CNN's Ed Henry, moments ago: "In terms of the politics, what's fascinating is that Robert Gibbs clearly feels that dragging both Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh back into this debate is good politically for this White House. I can tell you a lot of Republicans on the other side are telling me privately, though, they wonder whether this could blow up in the White House's face."
Oh, the Republicans are privately saying this might backfire on the White House? They must really mean it, huh?
When political actors make statements against their own interests, it may be justifiable for journalists to grant them anonymity. And those unattributed statements may have added credibility, for the very reason that they are contrary to the interests of the speaker.
But in this case, Henry's "lot of Republicans" are telling him something that is consistent with their interest. Indeed, they are telling him the most predictable spin possible: that the current political debate will redound to their benefit. The statements have essentially no value. And yet Henry treats them as though they are some deep secret the Republicans are guarding, and as though his ability to tell viewers this secret constitutes some sort of scoop.
If Henry insists on spending precious air time recounting these private conversations with Republican operatives, I would suggest the following wording, which would more accurately convey the situation: "A lot of Republicans claim to think this could blow up in the White House's face, though I should note that I haven't been able to find any willing to attach their names to that prediction."