Who’s Anonymous? A.I. Code Cracker Suggests it’s Not Pence

September 16, 2018

When The New York Times published the anonymous op-ed of a senior White House whistle blower, the fuse of speculation was lit. Who betrayed President Trump? Who wrote it?

The most intriguing possibility was Vice President Mike Pence who enjoys the best protections from a firing and benefits the most from a Trump exit. My analysis, however, suggests it was not the VP’s fine hand at work because, in a word, his musings are seldom subtle.

Using ChopTalk beta, an AI-enabled prototype tool that ID’s and decodes strategies of influence, I compared eight Pence op-eds written over nine years to the Times’ jaw-dropping account. As the graphic suggests, only one Pence editorial, “Ensuring Religious Freedom in Indiana,” yielded a similar signature.

Scholars have shrugged at such findings. But what differentiates this from other semantic sleuthings is the unmasking of motive. Teasing out key words (think lodestar), phrases, patterns, sequences and other conventions of language is illuminating but these do little to reveal the normally opaque strategies of a comminique or of the communicator behind it.

What these data suggest is that Pence’s op-eds are seldom supported by the probing influence strategy Test (aka, trial balloon). Whether as VP or the former Indiana governor, Pence is not prone toward patience or to beat around the bush. As shown in the Taxonomy of Influence Strategies, his editorials are more often marked by plays that control, confront and generally engage. These include Contrast, the freezing play that uses data, facts, acts and other claims to solidify certain truths, and Challenge, which in the style of most politicos presses others to be evolve and advance. He prefers a simple construct: Present evidence then to cheer his constituents toward his position.

More can be done to verify the vice president’s rhetorical finger print. New writings from the veep and other anonymous suspects (e.g., Mattis, Pompeo, Sessions) can be added and analyzed. A composite of other classes and categories of New York Times op-eds can also be examined for comparisons and correlations.

While these findings help keep Pence out of the White House dog house they open the door to new techniques that look beyond mere messages and toward fundamentally new signal sources — the motives and strategies of influencers and propagandists alike, be they CEOs, politicos, NGOs or terrorists.

What’s your analysis? Let me know @playmakeralana or email me here.

Post by Alan Kelly