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Swallow This, Deep Throat 

A case for silencing anonymous sources

Thursday, Apr 22 2004
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Page 6 of 6

For in his position as “backgrounder,” Richard Clarke was serving as the most hallowed of the unnamed — “sources close to the White House.” Administration after administration has utilized this shadow vehicle (comparable to the black-clad retainers in Japan’s Bunraku puppet theater), the better to make statements that it won’t be interrogated on — for a willing press has exchanged its voice for the “get” of the story.

That is until the pathologically resentful Bush administration elected to burn the bridges of tradition, the better to strike back at a perceived enemy.

“We asked them to lift the rules, and for obvious reasons they did,” Jim Angle of Fox News has remarked of the imbroglio. And since the “rules” were “lifted” and precedent was broken, it therefore means that now all bets are off when it comes to attribution. Because of what the White House has done to “punish” a “disloyal” ex-employee, there is no reason whatsoever for a reporter to pledge confidentiality about anything. Lou Grant and Mary Richards would certainly agree that nothing less than complete candor and specified attribution will do.

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After all, it’s part and parcel of “the public trust.”

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