The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
 

Backgrounder bollocks: Milbank marks our card


As this year's Pulitzer Prizes are awarded, I reflect that, gradually, the cast of DC political scribblers are distinguished one from another in (what passes for) my brain.

Some, like the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller [1], by their extraordinary sycophancy toward their subjects in USG (and, let it be said, that is a hotly contested category); others by a more independent cast of mind, as evidenced by their drawing the fire of low-grade USG attack-dogs (a much thinner field!).

Amongst this latter group is WaPo's Dana Milbank (last mentioned here on March 28), who risks further character assassination by an exposé of the running sore of the background briefing in the paper today.

Prompted by the revelation of Richard Clarke's effort, of course. He sums up the current state of play:
The notion of speaking "on background" has been around for decades, allowing reporters to get senior administration officials to speak candidly, and sometimes critically, about their boss's policies. But somewhere along the line, administrations learned to turn background backward. The White House now organizes authorized background briefings almost weekly, in which officials are cloaked in anonymity. It appears from these sessions that the anonymity is not to protect officials who say something negative -- but to shield them from embarrassment for sounding like cheerleaders.

He gives recent examples of the practice, the latest a conference call from the White House on Sunday, boosting employment statistics.
By the end of the briefing, reporters had had enough. "I'm just wondering," one asked the anonymous briefer, "what possible reason there is why all this isn't on the record?"

Have the worms turned? Is the Pope Jewish?

  1. Of whose excesses the Howler had a classic example yesterday.


|
free website counter Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com