Anonymous Sources: Not Necessary, Totally Avoidable
Eric Alterman, who I greatly respect, pissed me off when reading Altercation this morning. Ever since Deep Throat came out of the shadows I had been expecting a line like this in the press: see, anonymous sources are necessary because reporters could never get that information any other way.
Bullshit. A reporter has sensitive information from an anonymous source, which means it’s totally useless with zero value to the journalist with absolutely no place being merited for insertion into any part of the story. None. It’s useful for background information or developing leads, but there is no value offered to the reader from an anonymous source. Nothing.
If the source cannot go on the record, how is the reader to know they’re truthful? Furthermore, denial of the accusation or fact from the anonymous source has instant credibility, for that person is on the record. If fear is keeping facts or accusation from the record then they must by found with another method, for the credibility of the anonymous source has been destroyed.
Journalists destroyed it. How may times have the grossest lies and innuendo about good liberal politicians been happily spewed forth by “journalists?” How many times have we been lied to about the “war” on terror or the “terror alerts” here at home by anonymous officials? Countless times, all to great detriment of the country. Any time I see an anonymous source in a story I instantly stop reading, for I know the reporter is being lied to, is okay with it, and that I’m being lied to myself. No thank you.
Eric himself opined about that other disgraceful anonymous source episode currently in the press (sometimes): Valerie Plame. That's worked out really well, hasn't it?
But the real depth of my anger comes in the flippant, cocksure proclamation of the diction itself: see, as a journalist I know what’s correct and I can simply tell you what must be, even though my own profession has made a complete mockery of it.
It’s not really Eric’s fault, he just mentally arrived at the wrong place and time, but at that instant I would have done anything to be able to scream at him to shut the fuck up!
Hello? How is it possible that the US journalism corps has not an inkling of the utter disgrace it’s currently shackled with? Anybody home? A stolen election in 2000 but zero acknowledgement of this plain fact in the press. A war for lies in which they just rolled over and let the lies fly—hell, they helped with the war lying. Half of Bush supporters believe totally incorrect information about the President. The list goes on into infinity—the US journalism corps can’t reliably inform on anything but the most basic corporate information and actively participates in propaganda.
No journalist has any standing to pass judgment on anyone, let alone tell us what to do or what to think. We’re loathed and hated all over the world for our illegal, brutal war, (just for starters) and these charlatans greatly helped put us there. They just breeze and whistle along as the casualty lists grow and the children’s limbs fly—now now, citizen, let me tell you how the world should be. I don’t think so, bitch.
Ooooooo, profanity, the professionals will cluck. Oh my, he called someone a liar—oh no, that can’t be. The President wouldn’t lie, our anonymous sources wouldn’t lie. Would they? Of course not. We won’t swear and we won’t call people liars—instead you get an illegal horrifying war reported with “anonymous administration officials” that’s turned half the executive branch into war felons while we report on Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton. That’s much better than the truth, isn’t it?