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Hello Ricochet folks, thanks for opening this! I’ve been a silent, lurking, paying member for seven years because I want to fund my favorite podcasts and I’ve never had anything interesting to contribute. After reading the following, you may conclude that I still don’t have anything interesting to contribute.
I understand that it may sometimes be legitimate to report stories that are anonymously sourced. Such sources may be more reasonably used when the reporter knows the source’s job title and proximity to the details in question, or perhaps when a source has previously earned the reporter’s trust. I’m curious, however, about a few things:
- What obligation does a reporter have to an anonymous source who provides information that is later proven to be false?
- Should such a source be “outed” by the reporter?
- For what reason would a reporter continue to protect the anonymity of a source that intentionally caused them to report erroneously?
- If a reporter is made aware that an anonymous source has lied, should the reporter be additionally obligated to determine whether other stories have been furnished by the now-tainted source?
- Should news consumers be alerted to other stories — that the reporter now knows — should be treated with additional suspicion?
Two recent examples…
Example 1: Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before he was fired by President Trump
- Days Before Firing, Comey Asked for More Resources for Russia Inquiry By Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo | May 10, 2017 | Source = “… four congressional officials …”
- Comey Had Asked for More Money for FBI’s Russia Investigation By Ken Dilanian | May 10 2017 | Source = “… a senior congressional official with direct knowledge …”
- Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before he was fired by President Trump, officials say By Ashley Parker | May 10 | Source = “… two officials with knowledge of the discussion …”
We have subsequently learned that:
- The Justice Department has flatly denied that Comey met with Rosenstein to ask for more resources. “I want to address the media claims that the FBI asked for additional resources for the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. I’m not aware of any such request,” Rosenstein said, according to his released remarks.
- The anonymous claim appears to have been made with ignorance of how the Bureau manages finances and resources. The FBI’s resource requests are made in their budget. They don’t make case-specific requests in the middle of the budget period.
- Shouldn’t we hear about the “… four congressional officials …” who victimized the unsuspecting Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo?
- Shouldn’t we hear about the “… senior congressional official with direct knowledge …” who made a fool of well-intentioned Ken Dilanian?
- Shouldn’t we hear about the “… two officials with knowledge of the discussion …” who bamboozled Ashley Parker?
- If not, shouldn’t these reporters be asked to explain why not?
Example 2: Comey never told Trump that he was not under investigation
Comey expected to refute Trump By Gloria Borger, Eric Lichtblau, Jake Tapper and Brian Rokus, CNN
We have subsequently learned that:
- Comey testified that he personally told President Trump he was not under investigation on three occasions.
So now, shouldn’t Gloria Borger, Eric Lichtblau, Jake Tapper and Brian Rokus be motivated to tell us who hoodwinked them? If not, shouldn’t they be asked to explain why not?