'Lodestar': Did Mike Pence write anonymous NYT op-ed bashing President Trump? Bookies believe he did
Basing their bets on the word 'lodestar' used in the editorial, many leaned toward Vice President Mike Pence who has been using the word quite regularly has since 2001
After the New York Times' published an anonymous op-ed allegedly written by “a senior official in the Trump administration,” online speculators have started a parlor game trying to figure out the author's identity. Basing their bets on the word "lodestar" that was used in the editorial, online commentators are now leaning toward Vice President Mike Pence as the possible author behind the piece.
In the op-ed, the author also hailed the late Arizona Sen. John McCain as “a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue.”
In the New York Times' piece titled 'I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration', the author wrote that "many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office."
It described the President as unprincipled and "amoral," and stated that "meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back."
The word isn't a commonly used one, however, it is being said that Pence apparently uses it a lot. A lodestar is “a star that leads or guides” or a person who “serves as an inspiration, model, or guide”, per its definition in Merriam-Webster.
Audio producer Dan Bloom in a series of tweets explained why he thinks Pence is a key suspect. He posted a mash-up on Twitter showing that Pence has been using the word since at least 2001.
The word is "LODESTAR." Note that it comes in the same paragraph praising John McCain. That would rule out flame-throwers like Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino and suggest someone with Senate ties. This reveal is not going to take long. pic.twitter.com/NwnUtvFlko— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m) September 5, 2018
"Lodestar" just seems like an unusual word to use in general, not to mention in an op-ed that's going to be widely read. It has this whiff of sanctimony. So I search for John Kelly and James Mattis ever having used the word "lodestar." Nothing. But then...— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m) September 5, 2018
Two more months later (like clockwork,) February 2018. Vice President Mike Pence speaking in Tokyo, alongside Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. Place your bets... another "lodestar." https://t.co/OGIWVf2QxV pic.twitter.com/88vJJfVamM— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m) September 5, 2018
And lo, as I have shown in my previous tweets, peaches and nectarines are absolutely delicious, and Vice President Mike Pence really likes using the word "lodestar" in his writing. In fact, one might call it his...— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m) September 5, 2018
The New York Times said that they knew the identity of the official but chose to keep it hidden because the official's "job would be jeopardized by its disclosure". Although Pence is probably the only White House official who can not be fired, being openly identified as the author could potentially hurt any presidential aspirations Pence might have.
According to CNN, a former college classmate of Pence's, Scott Roos, once said that “God told him he would be president."
That being said, the Vice President's office expressed outright denial that Pence wrote the op-ed. His communications director Jarrod Agen resonated Trump's criticism of the article, who called it "gutless", adding that “our office is above such amateur acts.”
"The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds," Agen tweeted Thursday. "The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts."
A day before that, Trump tweeted: "Does the so-called 'Senior Administration Official' really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to [the] government at once!"
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the alleged author a "coward" who must step forward and resign, saying "he is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people."
However, the use of the word "lodestar" could just as well be a ruse. Previous stories about White House "whistleblowers" have claimed that staffers supplying quotes to the press wanted to keep the President guessing their identity and thus used words or phrases used by other members of his administration, Business Insider noted.
“To cover my tracks, I usually pay attention to other staffers’ idioms and use that in my background quotes. That throws the scent off me,” one White House official allegedly told Axios earlier this year.
That said, the Vice President was listed at 2-to-3 odds on the site MyBookie which opened a bet on the mysterious author of the op-ed.
"What tipped us off was ‘lodestar,’" MyBookie head oddsmaker David Strauss said of Pence. “When you search members of the administration (who have used that word) only one name comes up — and that name is Mike Pence. He’s used the word in multiple speeches this year.”
According to New York Post, the other 17 named potential leakers listed by MyBookie are: Education Secretary Betsy Devos (2-to-1), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (4-to-1), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (4-to-1), chief of staff John F. Kelly (4-to-1), Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (5-to-1), Attorney General Jeff Sessions (5-to-1), Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (6-to-1), Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (6-to-1), Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (7-to-1) Labor Secretary Alex Acosta (7-to-1), HHS Secretary Alex Azar (8-to-1), HUD Secretary Ben Carson (8-to-1), VA Secretary Robert Wilkie (8-to-1), Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (10-to-1), Ivanka Trump (12-to-1) and Jared Kushner (12-to-1).
Following MyBookie, Canada-based Bovada also issued its own odds on the alleged leaker and listed Attorney General Jeff Sessions as its favorite at 5-to-2.
He was followed by Pence (3-to-1), Kelly (4-to-1), Mattis (4-to-1), UN Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (10-to-1), “Javanka” (15-to-1), Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats (15-to-1), White House counsel Don McGahn (15-to-1), Melania Trump (50-to-1) and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (50-to-1), reported the Post.
Interestingly, the website listed President Trump himself at 25-to-1 odds.