Monday, October 18, 2004

A New/Better CIA

Why not turn intelligence gathering over to the press? It seems no secret is better kept than those leakers who inform to the press. I know about every thing that happened in the White House from Nixon to Bush2, but I don't know who Deep Throat is, or who leaked the Valerie Plame position, or anything else that has ever been leaked to the press.

When someone leaks to the press; their name goes in the "lockbox." No one knows who and never will. Maybe the Washington press corp knows who all the leakers are, but that just confirms my argument: Once it is leaked to the press; it is as safe as safe can be. The CIA could take notes from the Washington press.

No one leaks on the leakers. The longer I live the more wonder I have about the phenomena. The Washington press corp lives on leakers. Can no new event occur in Washington that there is not a unnamed source involved? Send me a story about Washington in which all sources were attributed. Send it to me and to Ripley's -- they'll want it for there list of the rare and unkowns.

The New York Times comes out with a new policy about leakers and attributions after it got way burned by using unnamed sources. And what happens, in the same issue where they make a declaration about unnamed sources, they have stories in which some source who wishes to remain anonymous supposedly says a newbite. gmafb

It's like crack. The press can't keep from it. "Well if the other guys do it, we have to do it, also." My parents had a reply to that, but we wont go into that.

I'd like to see one organization -- "fucking PBS" maybe -- give us the news in which no news is unattributed. If the NYT or WP says something with unattributed sources, then you report it as coming from the NYT or WP. However, nothing goes unattributed unless it is an obvious fact. Probably never happen, but it would be interesting to see.

Don't they realize that maybe the reason for the leak is the bigger story, but that would mean the source is the story. Duh. Oh yea, that violates the apparent first rule of journalism. (You know: The 5 W's and a "H" except when it applies to you source.)

Jack Shafer has written often in Slate about "anonymice." All devotees of journalism should read his ...entry? column? blog? What are they doing at Slate? If Romenesko has covered it, I missed it. At any rate, it is a cancer in the body jounalistic. Where is going to stop; who can stop it? Should it happen in journalism classes or some crusty old reported lead the way? We are making a pack with the devil. Shafer's anonymice will infest us and one day we will pay a greater price than Judith Miller's loss of face for publishing anonymice claims, or going to jail to protect what is the greater news story under the cause of a "reporter's sources." Our responsibility is to news and truth not sources, readership, or ratings. Don't sell your journalistic soul to a source for print space or air time.

Well, maybe I go to far. I don't report for a living. Working for a pay is prostitution no matter what you do. I write, but it's not news. It is journalism if you believe journalism is writing for your reader. Maybe, those who can't report, blog. So it goes.

However, as much as I malign them, the Washington press do have one thing to their credit -- they can keep a secret. And, not just their own secret, they keep the secret of their fellow journalist. "If you keep my secret, I'll keep you secret." CIA, eat your hard on. As I said, there are no leaks about leakers.

They should be running intelligence. It is just an idea, but I'm the source for attribution.

If you missed it, don't leave without checking my Right/Left Dictionary at

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