Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Anonymous sources

   I began this post about a month ago, but this incident seems as good a time as any to publish it.  Mike Allen's phrasing of his question to Rick Perry is similar to the oft used disclaimer that a reporter's source "spoke under conditions of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly" or some version of that.  Here are the alternate translations I have developed for news stories when anonymous sources are quoted:

... because the source wanted to spew gossip and not be held accountable for it.
... because the source wanted to make things up for political purposes.
... because the reporter wanted to insert his own views in the story by inventing an "anonymous source."
... because the reporter has always wanted to sound like Woodward and Bernstein because they were so COOL!
... because the reporter was too lazy to actually interview anyone.
... because the reporter was too timid to ask a tough question.

   Regarding the Allen/Perry exchange linked to above, why didn't Allen, a longtime experienced political reporter just ask Perry, a candidate whose campaign has obviously had some ups and downs, "It appears to me you ran this campaign as a gubernatorial campaign for too long and you didn't look big enough, get big enough, fast enough.  Do you take responsibility for that?"  Perry could still have refused to answer, but Allen would not have ended up with egg on his face.

   This being said, I do not question Mike Allen's integrity.  As far as I know, he's well respected and a straight shooter.  At least that's what my sources say.

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