Exclusive: Mattis’ Speechwriter Denies Authoring Anonymous Book
I have a book out, and it's got my name on it, said Mattis' former Communications Director Guy Snodgrass.
If you blow the whistle on something going on within government and write a book, you should put your name on what you have to say. That’s the opinion of Mattis’ former Communications Director Guy Snodgrass.
Snodgrass has recently been accused by former Bill Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet of being Anonymous, the author of the New York Times oped “I am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” and “A Warning,” a new book purporting to be an inside account of the Trump administration. The anonymous author decries Trump’s “amorality,” his “preference for autocrats and dictators,” and his “reckless decisions” but said “many of the senior officials in [Trump’s] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
Snodgrass lambasted Anonymous, in an exclusive interview with The American Conservative, saying that Anonymous’ actions are “close to sedition” because the author is “working to undercut the government from the inside.”
“This is America; I’m putting my name on what I’m saying; I’m safe in this country,” said Snodgrass, the author of the recent book “Holding the Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon with Secretary Mattis.”
Snodgrass said that with the freedom and safety Americans enjoy, there is no reason that someone should publish anonymously, particularly if they want to be taken seriously when they write “a warning” to citizens or call for reforms.
“We can and should have this kind of discourse,” he told TAC. “We want an open and transparent government. That’s something Americans should crave.”
Snodgrass is suspected of being the anonymous author because Kusnet thinks the former Navy pilot’s writing style is similiar to that of Anonymous.
First, A Warning and the original op-ed both read like they were written by a speechwriter. They both feature short sentences and one-line paragraphs, the frequent use of alliteration, and “reversible raincoat” constructions (Lincoln had a “team of rivals,” Trump has “rival teams”). The two texts also repeat the same words or phrases but in different contexts (as in, “The United States can have an open door without having open borders.”) These tics all reflect a speechwriter’s mandate of writing for the ear as well as the eye…
Even more tellingly, Anonymous addresses speechwriters’ specialties—the process of briefing public officials on complex issues and the impact of presidents’ words on Americans’ attitudes—while reverently describing a visit to a speechwriters’ shrine: the shelves in the White House library reserved for bound volumes of presidential papers. One of his original anecdotes would be especially appalling to a speechwriter: Trump apparently forbids staff to take notes at meetings with him. For linguistics mavens with a penchant for forensic analysis, the op-ed uses several words, including “lodestar” and “not moored,” that would be familiar to pilots with a literary bent. And Snodgrass shares the same literary agency—Javelin—with Anonymous.
Kusnet was among the first people to identify the anonymous author of “Primary Colors,” a book about Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, as Joe Klein, because, “I read the book carefully and couldn’t help noticing that it read just like Joe Klein’s pieces in Newsweek and, before that, New York magazine.”
But Snodgrass was quite emphatic when he spoke to TAC a few weeks ago that authors should do the honorable thing and put their name on their work. He had to submit his tell-all book about his time with Mattis for Pentagon prepublication review, where it was inexplicably delayed; until he sued, after all. Given that headache, it’s understandable why Snodgrass might feel aggravation over being publicly linked to Anonymous.
“No, I’m not the author of ‘A Warning,'” he wrote in an email to TAC Monday. “I currently have a book out and it’s got my name on it.”