Okay, maybe not the most suitable graphic for breakfast reading, but too good not to share.
Also well worth reading: Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, in the Esquire Politics blog, explains where all those Beltway “anonymous sources” come from:
… When you read a news account which cites, “unnamed sources” and “a senior defense official” and “a senior military leader” and other such anonymous sources, you are often (though not always) being fed a line. A polite lie on the journalist’s part, but the problem is, you have not been let in on the lie. It is a well defined pirouette between journalists, political public affairs officers in all of the federal agencies, and the professional civil servants and military officers who serve at the direction of our political leaders. What happens is that there will be a press briefing (not a conference, that is something different) during which there are two parts, the “on the record” parts, and then the “background” briefing. In a briefing usually only the standing, regular, accredited press outlets are there, and all of them operate under these same “house rules” I am about to describe. Left, Right, Center, the journalists in DC who cover the White House, State, and DoD, abide by the rules, because if they do not they will lose that most precious commodity — access…
First, a public affairs person will come to the podium and give the synopsis of the days briefings. Then, if there is an “issue” what might happen is this: (I will use DoD as an example, but the same model applies at the White House and all, depending upon the issue). The Public Affairs spokesman says, “And now I will introduce Major General Thomas J. Smith. He is the commander/program director of unit X/program Y, and he will talk to you for ten minutes about what just happened in place Z. You may ask two minutes of questions at the end. Major General Smith is to be identified as, “A senior military leader.” At the White House the same process occurs with senior civil servants, and in some rare cases even deputies to cabinet members identified ‘anonymously’ for you, the reader. (“He is to be identified as, “A senior member of the government who is close to the President.”) Then that person will basically lay out all the facts that the government cares to put forward, but which it does not want attributed to the government directly.
But in all of this you are thinking, when you read the news story, “Whoa, there is some GOOD journalism. They got person X to say Y! That proves what I was thinking.” And you are probably imagining meetings in parking garages late at night, a la Woodward and Bernstein. But what has really happened, regardless of the political party in power these past 40 years, is that what you thought was a good-old-fashioned All The President’s Men moment, was actually a deliberately orchestrated release of information…
That is not to say that good old fashioned reporting and investigating does not still occur. It does, and a lot of it is also done by these very same reporters, when they have the time. And sometimes there can be an anonymous source in a story who is anonymous to protect them from the very real possibility of retribution. But more often than not, at least in the DoD/State/White House stories that you read, the anonymous sources you are seeing are not really anonymous at all. All of the reporters know who they are, and they all got the same briefing. Only you have been kept in the dark…
I am for some reason reminded of the old saw, “There’s a mark at every poker game; if you look around the table and can’t figure out who that mark is… it’s you.”
That being said, what’s on the agenda for this week’s Friday doc-dump?
Well, I had finished eating, so thanks for the graphic.
In regard to your post, check out this post over at AmericaBlog, where it is revealed former NSA Director Haydn was doing on off the record briefing with a reporter, on the Acela, being overheard by reporter in next seat, who started live tweeting what he was hearing.
This is a prime illustration of the arrogance of power and position that now characterizes our society. We have trended this way increasingly for the past 15 or more years. I see it not only in our political leadership, but in our corporate and business leadership, and even in the leadership style and actions e.g. of the major midwestern university where I worked and where I retired after 25 years. It is one of the key things that has taken our society and culture totally off the rails. It is the phenomenon of the 1% in action.
c u n d gulag
What’s on the agenda?
Well, I’m waiting to see how the Republicans try to tie the fake Hawaiian birth certificate, no college transcripts, Reverend Wright, ACORN, The Whitey Tape(s), Solyndra, Benghazi, and the IRS scandals, to the Obamacare rollout.
You know, the rollout which is NOT at all better – NO WAY! – than W’s Medicare Part D fustercluck of a rollout!
Which was a smooth as… uhm… silk!
But don’t ask our MSM to remember the Medicare Part D rollout.
It was so long ago, you’d think they need another Rosetta Stone, to help them figure it out.
@HeartlandLiberal: Yeah, I wrote about Hayden’s “accidental disclosure” last night. The comments were pretty funny, as long as you have a very Menckenesque sense of humor.
So I’m in London right now, visiting some colleagues to do some measurements on some specialized equipment they have. Before I’m allowed to touch anything, I have to go through their institution’s safety briefing. In the course of which, the safety director tells us to “do have a think” before starting anything that’s potentially dangerous. I swear, it’s impossible to be more stereotypically British in one’s phrasing without literally uttering the phrase “jolly good old chap”.
In this, we are no different than any other society where propaganda has overtaken the truth, or even the desire to seek it out.
Interesting excerpt. I don’t like the practice, but I don’t have an obvious solution that doesn’t make it worse in terms of disseminating information.
We can blame the journalists, but what incentives do you think they are getting from their bosses to dig deeper and/or not play the game?
This is the biggest reason, in my opinion, why the so-called “print” media is dying. Not because of technology, but because most people are not going to willingly pay for information they know is bullshit. If the major news outlets had kept up their hard line and stayed true to their perceived duty of speaking truth to power, then they would all be alive and kicking quite nicely.
Of course, what the Internet may have proven is that the major news print outlets have always been feeding us bullshit, in which case they were doomed to die anyways.
That’s where I am in my media consumption.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
The interviewee of that Daily Show voting rights clip, the “Rush Limbaugh of Western North Carolina”, has been forced out of his position as a precinct chair. Again.
Girls night out with some friends I haven’t seen in person for about thirty years. Then a work day tomorrow (fall open house on campus) and a wedding tomorrow night. Ugh. I hate a fully scheduled weekend.
Anyone who imagines that the media aren’t part and parcel of the ‘system’ is just not paying attention. And, by the way, ’twas ever thus.
the agenda for today is vacuum sealing all the redfish & sea trout we caught yesterday. :)
We’re all part of the “system” depending on how you define the system.
Got to chop clippings from the 12-foot tall pomegranate shrub into smaller pieces for disposal. Ragga-fragga thorns mean it’s going to be really annoying. Also have to get around to collecting and moving about 7 or 8 wheelbarrows of juniper clippings in addition to the 4 loads already disposed of.
If they were trimmed more often than annually, would seriously consider reaching for the kerosene.
Going to work on the first subfreezing morning of the year. Hopefully my hammer will avoid all my fingers before things warm up a little bit.
freezing my butt off while I run errands. Also too. I can’t find my winter coat so there is that. Yay me.
Well I have a weekend of cleaning up downed tree limbs from a freak 6 inch snow storm here in NE Ohio at a time the leaves were still on the trees.
I’ve been aware of what Bateman describes for 8-10 years now, because it made the rounds of the blogosphere at about that time. It’s disturbing that journalists continue to perpetrate this fraud on their readers. Supposedly they’re supposed to be letting us in on the truth, not helping to conceal it from us.
Gotta say, these sorts of quotes never gave me a mental image of Woodward and Deep Throat in the parking garage; I had more of a vision of a reporter being able to get a key quote from a ‘senior administration offficial’ over the phone, or maybe occasionally in a one-on-one chat in the SAO’s office.
A major paper or network like NBC or CNN or the NYT or the WaPo, that isn’t going to get shut out of the game, could reveal what’s actually going on, by doing a story periodically, not about any specific background briefing, but giving an overview of what they’re like, with enough detail to paint the picture, but nothing that would identify a specific briefing.
One reporter could interview other reporters (on background, just to complete the circle of irony) who would describe the typical situation: the room, the podium, the seating, the number of reporters present and a loose description of what outlets they represent, the introduction of the speaker, the statement of the ground rules, whether the background briefing was preceded by an on-the-record briefing, etc.
The story could be given a permanent link on the network/newspaper website’s politics page, so that the reminder would always be there.
How hard would that be, really?
Best to you, and your dad and family. Good to see you back commenting.
Just watched some bundled up little kids trundle up the street to the elementary school.
Brewing coffee and thinking on a bike ride.
I love Luckovich.
I will never forget one he did while he was at the Time Picayune. It was for the paper about the time of the Super Bowl when the Bears blew out the Patriots. It was used to illustrate an historical article about the city of New Orleans. It was a drawing of Bienville or Iberville and the wording was something like “golly what a great place for a city” with swamp and alligators. Still makes me laugh to think of it.
2/3 of the way through a short working day as I am off to the London Screenwriters’ Festival this weekend to pitch and pitch and pitch. Meeting a model/fitness writer friend for lunch on Sunday who somehow managed to spend last weekend in Brussels with Jay-Z.
I got that beat, though: I went to TWO birthday parties for five-year-olds. #thuglife
OK, I saw this cartoon while eating breakfast, and I still think it’s screamingly funny. I guess it’s partly because I’m just crass enough myself, and partly because I’m happy to see that someone in the corporate media gets it.
Cartoon is funny, and accurate. Heading off to house sit for friends for the weekend. They’re off to Yosemite. I’ve realized I’ve lived in CA for over a decade and never seen Yosemite; Went to LA for a bit to explore higher ed options-never went to the art museum; lived in the Bay for nearly 5 years-never saw Coit Tower or GG Park; lived in NYC for nearly 20 years and never went to the Statue of Liberty. Time+Money+Opportunity have not been there at the same time. It’s hard not to be jealous as my friends travel around, take great pics and I have many wonderful pictures of the same damned things over and over. I think I’m a fairly nice sort who’s always happy for their friends having a nice life, so it’s a new thing to be jealous that people get to go places.
@R-Jud: OOo Best of luck with the pitches, and the birthday parties.
@ruemara: You really should see Yosemite, it’s a pretty easy drive from anywhere in CA. And crowd-wise, now is about the best time. Just do it, even if only for a weekend. We went every year when I was a kid, I miss it.
In (approximately) the immortal words of Bernie Taupin, it’s just their job five days a week. They generally don’t mind it if they let us in on the truth in the process of protecting and promoting their careers, but it’s strictly a coincidence.
Don’t forget, if you’re going to be in the Anaheim area at any point, email me and I’ll send you 2 tickets to the Happiest Place if you want to go. You can email me through my site.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
Yosemite is pretty cheap if you camp or stay in a tent at Curry. You should go. Yosemite is my favorite place in the US.
ETA: Working 12 hour nights for the next three days. Bleargh.