Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"Some People Say Anonymous Sources Suck"

Atrios is rightfully highlighting the stupid media practice of granting anonymity to sources that push the Administration agenda.

One other insidious media practice to reject every time it is used: "Some people say..." It is the same tactic as granting anonymity to "high ranking government officials" who say things they wouldn't be punished for. It gives a political operative the ability to push an agenda without seeming overtly partisan, and that the agenda being pushed is "conventional wisdom."

No discussion should ever be able to advance beyond "some people say..."

Now, I never took part in forensics debates in high school. But I knew there were certain tactics for winning debates. One tactic was to challenge a source. Of course, a clever debater would just make up an official-sounding source, and, since the source material wouldn't be available, it couldn't be checked. That happens all the time in our mainstream media. People make assertions of fact, and the media does a terrible job of checking the facts and letting the public know.

But when a reporter, pundit or politician says "some people say..." the immediate response should always be, "who said that?" Ignore the issue broached until the person is identified.

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