Get Well Soon

Dana Priest, the Washington Post journalist who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the terrorist renditions in Europe, claims that her source for the stories, Mary McCarthy, had no political agenda in leaking classified information to her. When asked by Newsbusters, she said:

“I've always found this view amusing, and rather convenient for the White House, which likes to point to someone else when it's own policy decisions don't work out right or fail to achieve the stated goals (like other administrations, I would add). Most CIA people I've met probably voted for George Bush.”

When first reading that comment, my immediate reaction was “Ya, right!” Thirty years of reading the Washington Post makes me, shall I say, skeptical. Her claim that a Washington bureaucrat, caught leaking classified information damaging to the Bush Administration, does so absent of a political agenda is simply laughable.

But in a day when newspaper circulation is dropping like a rock, I wonder why people like Dana Priest cannot recognize the damage their agenda driven reporting does to themselves, their companies, and the institution of a free press.

There cannot be any doubt that somewhere in her mind she knew that her source had partisan motives. A simple Google search would have raised troublesome doubts.

Given the track record of her reporting and her colleagues at the Washington Post, one has to suspect that if her source had been a Republican appointee and contributor, she would have considered those facts important to her reporting.

And now that several European commissions have concluded that there is no truth to the accusations raised in her articles, one wonders if a little more skepticism about her source might have spared this country untold damage to its reputation in Europe and throughout the world.

But there is some doubt whether this kind of thing matters to MSM journalists. Ms Priest, after all, won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting, whether it was factually correct or not. And in a world where media companies show so little respect for objectivity and truth, one cannot expect journalists themselves to care.

These are the signs of a sick institution.



4:12 PM

As a journalist (albeit a hick journalist at a small weekly in Connecticut), I can tell you that almost all leakers have some sort of political motive. The trick is to carefully weigh the source's motives and consider them when deciding whether to go with the story. Also, the reason the leaker wishes to remain anonymous should be made as clear as possible. A simple "spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the material" is not enough. In fact, it's weaselly.

Complete objectivity is impossible for any human being (even star journalists). But the most important thing is to be fair, and even someone with an agenda can do that. The problem is most journalists go into the field because they want to change the world or save it from bad guys. And as we all know, most of those people are libs. And to them exposing bad deeds done by the right is always good. This will never change until conservatives and moderates start going into journalism in big numbers, but I'm not holding my breath ...