Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Leak Doesn't Mean Some Hero Got a "Scoop"

Glenn Greenwald may be behind the Salon wall now, but that wall's pretty thin. It's no Times Select. Just turn off your AdBlocker for a sec, refresh the page, and click the ad to may your way into his brilliant writing:
[Media sources like CNN, NY Times, and the Washington Post] are now flagrantly violating their own 'principles' regarding anonymity literally on an almost daily basis, as one 'report' after the next does nothing but pass along official Bush talking points under the guise of 'leaks' from vaguely defined anonymous Bush officials.

There are two serious and obvious dangers generated by reports which rely upon anonymous government sources -- (1) it allows the government to disseminate false and misleading claims without any accountability, and more importantly, (2) it elevates rank government propaganda to the level of 'investigative reporting' by implicitly bestowing it with the appearance of journalistic approval.
As I've said many times before, it just seems like Glenn can keep up with his mind better than I can (my own mind). His writing is a testament to the English language. This is called clear explanation:
From Watergate forward, readers instinctively view information "leaked" by anonymous sources as more credible than formal government statements, since it seems logical that anonymity would be used only when government sources are contradicting, or exposing the falsehood and corruption behind, official government claims.

For that reason, to report official government claims under the guise of anonymity -- as though those assertions are the by-product of some brave leak or vigilant journalistic investigation -- is really to mislead readers. But a substantial amount, if not the majority, of reports based on anonymous government sources is now nothing more than glorified government press releases which access-hungry reporters are (willingly) tricked into viewing as some sort of scoop and therefore passing it on willingly as though it is journalistically verified fact.
Keep it in mind, and just look at these clowns.

No comments:

Post a Comment