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

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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Journos moan over anonymous briefings

Liz Halloran of the Hartford Courant hosts an indignation meeting on the subject under hed and dek Hiding Behind Anonymity/'Background Briefings' Increase Under Bush:
Though common practice in past administrations, many Washington reporters and editors say the Bush White House has taken the use of anonymous briefings to the extreme...

There's no pretence at scientific method here: just as with USG anonymice, we have to take her word for it. (Who says Americans don't do irony?)

WaPo's Dana Milbank takes a slightly different tack than the usual:
I don't see them as a problem so much as just plain useless. I can't remember the last time I used anything from them.

Now, that gives us material for some quantitative research [1].

  1. I'm somehow not motivated to trawl Milbank's recent stuff: but at least, unlike the moneygrubbers at West 43rd Street, it's free online to be trawled.


Let's note the latest wheeze for beating the media addiction to USG anonymice: Jack Shafer (September 22) invites journos attending background briefings to email him with the briefer's names, which Shafer would then pass on to us Great Unwashed.

But let's also recall that this isn't Shafer's first effort on the subject: on June 16, I mentioned his earlier notion that journos themselves should out the briefers.

(In his recent column, Shafer mentions Daniel Okrent's June 13 (equally fatuous) notions on the subject - my comments on which also from June 13 - but is pleased to link to the NYT pay archive. My link to Okrent's piece is durable and gratis. Just saying...)


On June 28, I noted Okrent's challenge to leading newspapers generally to forswear the use of USG anonymous sources. It went nowhere: even his Manhattan colleagues gave it a Bronx cheer! (The Catskills' loss...)

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