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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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
 

More media fatuity on USG anonymous sources


The state of morale of the capital's press corps can be judged by the story (via CJR Daily) of the assault by Washington bureau chiefs on the pernicious institution of anonymous briefing (background briefing) of journalists by officials of USG speaking on its behalf:
...they pressed the demand with White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on Friday. "We tried to make the point that readers are sick to death of unnamed sources," said Ron Hutcheson, a White House correspondent for Knight Ridder. "Scott listened and he said he would chew on it for a few weeks, but everybody felt like he would give it consideration."

And Knight Ridder is generally accounted one of the least Bush-whipped of the Washington news operations!

Jay Rosen asks
Why does the press have to ask McClellan to end these stealth briefings, when it could end its own participation at any time?

And, in logic and common sense, a business tasked with providing independent news coverage of USG activities would have no difficulty in doing so. Would have done so years ago.

Except - that's not what they're tasked with. Their task is maximising long-term shareholder value - and I am pretty sure that their managements have studies and reports out the wazoo which show long-term shareholder value is maximised by going along with USG, not taking part in an insurgency against it.

The counter-example is the New York Times and Whitewater: my (imperfect to minute) understanding is that the Times not only ran the first story on Whitewater, during the 1992 campaign (the tale fell largely on deaf ears in the MSM) but was its most assiduous pursuer during the first Clinton administration.

Clinton's press operation was hardly neglected or negligible: the Times - then, as now, with 'Sonny' Sulzberger's hand on the tiller - was what passes for a liberal rag - and yet it chose to take the side of the VRWC.

As ever, this is a work in progress...


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