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October 18, 2005

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Sourcing Edition)

Duncan Black writes:

Eschaton : Sideshow: This is the least important element of this case, though surely an important one for the press generally:

Mr. Fitzgerald asked about a notation I made on the first page of my notes about this July 8 meeting, "Former Hill staffer."

My recollection, I told him, was that Mr. Libby wanted to modify our prior understanding that I would attribute information from him to a "senior administration official." When the subject turned to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Libby requested that he be identified only as a "former Hill staffer." I agreed to the new ground rules because I knew that Mr. Libby had once worked on Capitol Hill.

Did Mr. Libby explain this request? Mr. Fitzgerald asked. No, I don't recall, I replied. But I said I assumed Mr. Libby did not want the White House to be seen as attacking Mr. Wilson."

Okay, look. You grant anonymity because a source is leaking information they aren't really supposed to. Maybe you grant anonymity in that somewhat comical fashion of "the source declined to be identified by name because of the administration's policy of not commenting" which is ridiculous but at least it's mostly transparently ridiculous. What Libby wanted was to, in essence, grant the entire senior administration "anonymity" by pretending the information was coming from somewhere. No idea if Miller ever granted such a thing, but any reporter who ever did should be fired, along with their editors.

But, Duncan, Miller says that she did grant Libby his request: she "agreed to the new ground rules."

The fact that Libby asked does carry the information that this is a request that complaisant reporters could be expected to grant...

Posted by DeLong at October 18, 2005 03:55 PM