Lorne Manley, writing in today’s New York Times, examines the question of unnamed sources and how mainstream news organizations are siding with the White House to curtail the practice. Not exactly. Scott McLellan, the White House flack, would like to end the media’s use of non-attributable sources altogether, while the leading news organizations wish to establish a more stringent set of rules to curtail a practice that allegedly fuels public mistrust of the media.
As a public relations executive whose raison d’etre is to advance the interests of his “client” (this Administration), Mr. McLellan’s call for an end to this practice is understood. After all, judging from the number of tomes published by those leaving the government, I imagine there are many other Beltway insiders who have stories to tell. From the media’s perspective, its ability to serve the public interest will be severely hurt should the practice end completely.
Frankly, I do not believe that the use of unidentified sources is something the lay public even knows or cares about. Whether this practice contributes to its growing mistrust of the media has yet to be proven. However, mistakes and bias in reporting do.