HD: Lodestar
Posted: 06 September 2018 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Who wrote the NYT op-ed?

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Posted: 08 September 2018 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Now, I have no idea who wrote the Times op-ed piece, but the idea that its use of lodestar demonstrates anything is just plain wrong. Such armchair linguistic analysis is simply not valid.

Ok, but whatdya think of Slate’s William Salatan’s analysis?

He concludes that it is Jon Huntsman, ambassador to Moscow.

He analyses words like:

Country first. The op-ed glorifies the late Sen. John McCain. It calls him a “lodestar,” the word used by Henry Kissinger at McCain’s Sept. 1 memorial service to describe the senator. You dealt with this one very well.

Malign. The op-ed aims its most specific criticism at Trump’s coddling of Vladimir Putin:

In addition, malign—which is fancier and more correct in this context than the more popular term malignant—is one of Huntsman’s favorite words, especially when talking about Russia. Last year, at his confirmation hearing, Huntsman repeatedly denounced Russia’s “malign activity.”

Moorings. The op-ed criticizes Trump’s “amorality” and says he’s “not moored to any discernible first principles.” Amoral is a very unusual word in politics—the preferred term is immoral—but it was a favorite locution of Huntsman’s father, who used it to describe the Nixon White House.

Impetuous. The op-ed also uses this term to describe the president. It’s a rare word among politicians because it isn’t widely understood, and it sounds pretentious. But Huntsman loves it. In 2006, he said of tax reform, “We can’t be too impetuous.” In 2011, he cautioned against hitting China with trade penalties “in an impetuous, unilateral way.”

Inclination.

The op-ed says officials in Trump’s administration are bravely working to thwart his “worst inclinations.” It would have been simpler to write “worst instincts” or “worst tendencies,” but Huntsman likes inclination. He has used it when speaking about health care, bipartisanship, and troops in Afghanistan. In his July 21 letter to the Tribune, he proudly wrote: “Representatives of our foreign service, civil service, military and intelligence services have neither the time nor inclination to obsess over politics.”

work diligently”; the op-ed says officials in the Trump administration “are working diligently.”

Work diligently: Huntsman often said his campaign philosophy was to “work diligently”; the op-ed says officials in the Trump administration “are working diligently.”

Salatan concludes:

Maybe these resemblances are just coincidental, and somebody else will confess to writing the op-ed. Given the sheer number of people who could have written it—those who work with Trump soon learn to despise him—even the best guess is likely to be wrong. But the central mystery of the piece—why anyone would speak so loudly about serving in a “quiet resistance”—is a big clue. This is a carefully prepared diary of principle and courage that the author can use in a post-Trump world to gloss his legacy. Exactly the sort of thing Jon Huntsman would write

Huntsman’s disavowal is faint

Like other suspects, Huntsman has issued a statement to deflect accusations that he wrote the Times op-ed. But the statement—actually just a tweet—doesn’t come from Huntsman. It comes from the spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The full text reads, “Amb Huntsman: Come to find, when you’re serving as the U.S. envoy in Moscow, you’re an easy target on all sides. Anything sent out by me would have carried my name. An early political lesson I learned: never send an anonymous op-ed.”

He gets my vote!

[ Edited: 08 September 2018 03:48 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 08 September 2018 04:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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That’s just not how you do authorship analysis, as I pointed out in the piece.

Could it be Huntsman? Sure. But it’s probably not—not because I know of any evidence against him being the author, but because of the odds. There are so many people who could have penned it, that the odds that any one individual you name is the author are pretty long.

And certainly someone, somewhere has named the right person, and will cash in on that wild-ass guess if and when the author’s name is actually revealed.

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Posted: 09 September 2018 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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NYT described the author as “a senior official in the Trump White House”.
To my mind, the US ambassador to Russia would probably not be described so.

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Posted: 10 September 2018 03:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The actual words are “senior official in the Trump administration” not “White House.”

An ambassador, especially one to Russia, would so qualify.

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Posted: 10 September 2018 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I thank you for that correction.

Wikileaks has tweeted the following analysis.

WikiLeaks

@wikileaks
Based upon our statistical analysis of the language used in the New York Times anonymous Op Ed, the author is likely to be an older (58%), conservative (92%) male (66-87%). Sources should protect themselves by consulting “adverserial stylometry” and “forensic author profiling”.

9:49 AM - Sep 7, 2018

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Posted: 10 September 2018 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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OP Tipping - 10 September 2018 05:37 AM

an older (58%), conservative (92%) male (66-87%

That seems like a description of the entire Trumpenproletariat staff.

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Posted: 10 September 2018 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’m not up on the literature regarding whether or not stylistic authorship analysis can be deliberate defeated. My gut reaction is that it probably can, but individual methods of analysis will stand up better than others.

But as for the claims of identifying age, sex, and political leaning, I’m very skeptical of that. While there are some differences in speech and writing that follow sex, I don’t think the confidence levels are high enough to tell you anything about a single person or a single text. They’re general statistical trends,

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Posted: 10 September 2018 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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More on ”senior administration official.”

Although it’s obvious that this piece was penned by a non-linguist. No word or phrase has “inherent meaning.” All meaning is established by usage. What he means by “inherent meaning” is “well-established and widely agreed meaning.”

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