Wednesday, July 27, 2016

NYTimes vs. DNCleaks

People keep citing this New York Times article by David Sanger that attributes the DNCleaks to Russia. As I've written before, this is propaganda, not journalism. It's against basic journalistic ethics to quote anonymous "federal officials" in a story like this. The Society of Professional Journalists repudiates this [1] [2]. The NYTime's own ombudsman has itself criticized David Sanger for this practice, and written guidelines to specifically ban it.

Quoting anonymous federal officials is great, when they disagree with government, when revealing government malfeasance, when it's something that people will get fired over.

But the opposite is happening here. It's either Obama himself or some faction within the administration that wants us to believe Russia is involved. They want us to believe the propaganda, then hide behind anonymity so we can't question them. This evades obvious questions, like whether all their information comes from the same public sources that already point to Russia, or whether they have their own information from the CIA or NSA that points to Russia.

Everyone knows the Washington press works this way, and that David Sanger in particular is a journalistic whore. The NetFlix series House of Cards portrays this accurately in its first season, only "Zoe Barnes" is "David Sanger". In exchange for exclusive access to stories, the politician gets to plant propaganda when it suits his purpose.

All this NYTimes article by Sanger tells us is that some faction within the administration wants us to believe this, not whether it's true. That's not surprising. There are lots of war hawks that would want us to believe this. There are also lots who support Hillary over Trump -- who want us to believe that electing Trump plays into Putin's hands. Of course David Sanger would write such a story quoting anonymous sources, like he does after every such incident. You can pretty much write the story yourself.

Thus, we should fully discount Sanger's story. If government officials are willing to come forward an be named, and be held accountable for the information, then we should place more faith in them. As long as a faithless journalists protects them with anonymity, we shouldn't believe anything they say.


Josh Wieder said...

I was wondering where this claim had come from. I should have suspected nebulous, unconfirmed rumor-mongering. My first thought when I saw the dump was some email admin at the DNC who really likes Bernie Sanders.

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