Spinonymous sourcing from Politico

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

As noted by Greg Sargent and others, the Politico, in its write-up of President Obama's decision to release the CIA torture memos, granted anonymity to a "top official" from the Bush administration defending the interrogation procedures as "techniques that work" and attacking Obama for inflicting "grave damage to our national security." Sargent corresponded with Politico's Mike Allen, asking why he allowed this official to defend his boss and take pot shots at the new guy while hiding behind the shield of anonymity. Allen said the situation is "not ideal, but better than making readers wonder what the official Bush view is."

But how could it be the "official Bush view" anyway if it's being provided anonymously? Moreover, can readers really "wonder what the official Bush view is," given that Bush himself has made clear where he stands on the use of these interrogation methods? Dick Cheney, for his part, has not held back in saying that Obama's national security decisions have made the country less safe.

Put simply, why grant anonymity to a Bush official to (a) repeat Bush's defense of his policies and (b) criticize Obama, as Cheney has done? Shouldn't readers be given full information to be able to evaluate the speaker's credibility and possible personal stake in the issue and maybe for other reporters to follow up by actually challenging the speaker on his or her assertions?

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Interrogation
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