In a New York Times article titled “National Enquirer Had Decades of Trump Dirt. He Wanted to Buy it All,” authors Jim Rutenberg and Maggie Haberman introduce the circumstances and possible consequences of a released recording of a conversation between President Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen. In the recording, they strongly hint at paying off National Enquirer for the files they have on Trump. The authors clearly delineate the process of the ongoing federal investigation into Trump’s campaign finance violations through the employment of rhetorical devices, including juxtaposition and syllogism.
Rutenberg and Haberman immediately begin the article by examining the relationship between President Trump and American Media, National Enquirer’s parent company. According to the article, David Pecker, the chairman of American Media, would often bury stories about Trump from the public. The authors continue by remarking that American Media, the “nation’s largest gossip publisher,” was not involved in “vetting [Mr. Trump’s] presidential candidacy,” a presidential candidacy “made for the tabloids.”
The writers logically extrapolate from the confirmed information about Pecker’s behind-the-scenes manipulation that there was similar manipulation during the election process. By clearly laying out the facts used to reach this conclusion, the authors make it simpler for an outsider to understand the sequence of events culminating in the shady dealings discussed in the recordings. Furthermore, Rutenberg and Haberman suffuse their framework of facts with contradictory language to emphasize the validity of their angle.
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The writers make a point of mentioning that American Media is the nation’s largest gossip publisher. By juxtaposing this fact with American Media’s absence of commentary on Trump’s past, the authors highlight the magnitude of the impact of American Media’s help for Trump. Rutenberg and Haberman’s information usage add new depth and meaning to what might otherwise have remained merely disjointed information on the page.
The authors dig deeper into the federal investigation by analyzing the position of key witnesses in the case. They spend two paragraphs describing the roles that Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, and Pecker play in the ongoing investigation. The recording directly mentioned Weisselberg in terms of setting up the deal with American Media, and Pecker, as American Media’s chairman, was the focus of much discussion during the recording and reported as having intimate knowledge of the particulars of the deal.
The article described both men as being “protected from self-incrimination.” After laying a groundwork of understanding for the reader, Rutenberg and Haberman cite Jeff Tsai, a practicing lawyer, for his quote that those reportedly given immunity by the government are the ones with detailed knowledge about the issue at hand.
The authors practice syllogism by first laying out a specific premise (Weisselberg and Pecker have been granted immunity) and then a general one (people who have been granted immunity often have insider knowledge of the case). By presenting a deductive system of reasoning, the two premises inevitably lead to a sound conclusion, backing up the authors’ earlier claims on the clarity Weisselberg and Pecker can provide for the case.
Rutenberg and Haberman’s use of deductive reasoning and contradictory choice of language give the article deeper meaning, helping clarify knowledge for the public and subtly make their point in a non-argumentative manner at a time when this sort of logical reasoning is all too rare.
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