It’s really not that hard to spot a planted story. They have tells.
On the heels of last night’s bombshell courtesy of CBS’s Major Garrett that Republicans are behind the lies/propaganda about the Benghazi emails, you might be expecting an apology from ABC or at the very least, an acknowledgment that they were had. Someone should be investigating the lying leak, right?
Nope. None of that is going to happen, and if you think this is an anomaly, I’m sorry to tell you that actually, there were two stories this week sourced by Republican congressional aides’ interpretation of facts not available to the press. Yes, that’s right. It’s not just Benghazi.
Republicans are in the habit of planting stories in the press, and your “free press” falls for it over and over again. Big kudos to CBS, which was also fed the bogus Benghazi propaganda and turned it down. That’s called journalism.
This past week, I pointed out how the IRS scandal was sourced in a mainstream article as via “Republican congressional aides.” See, the entire narrative that conservatives were targeted and higher ups knew about it and did nothing was based on the interpretation of the briefing by the IRS given to Republicans.
A day later, ABC got outed as having misled the public on purpose by claiming they had actually reviewed the emails, after they got taken by a Republican source who deliberately lied to them about the content of the emails.
This is huge, but it will die with the Friday news dump, and the press will continue on their pseudo serious journey to “expose” the Executive Branch, when in reality, these same folks catered to the Bush White House’s propaganda and now they are catering to Congressional Republicans’ agenda. See the trend? It has nothing to do with the Executive Branch or the Legislative Branch, and everything to do with siding with the money/corporate overlords/and the scandal makers who know how to dress a story up with a Hollywoodesque marketing campaign.
An anonymous source makes sense in some cases, but when that narrative plays into a partisan agenda and it’s an “aide” instead of an actual elected official, caution is advised. Aides can be thrown under the bus. They exist to protect their celebucritter. True, sometimes an aide will leak things or say something the official can’t say.
I’m a liberal, but there’s no way I would take a Democratic congressional aide’s interpretation of documents I am not allowed to see for myself and source. There is no “exclusive” worth that risk, and it is inaccurate to call that an “exclusive”. It’s a fictional story being used to generate hits.
To deliberately choose to run an unvetted accusation as a fact and deliberately mislead your audience as to the source is unforgivable. That is not a mistake. That should be a career ender for whoever’s name is on that story.
People must learn to read articles with an eye for the source. No, you can’t honestly dismiss a source because it’s partisan. But they should disclose their bias to you, and their facts should be transparent and checkable.
If it’s a breaking story with a huge bombshell, they better have a source better than the interpretation of Republican congressional aides. Yes, everyone makes mistakes; it’s impossible not to when you’re covering news. New information corrects previous information, things shift, etc. These things should be transparent to the reader. ABC should apologize for passing Republican propaganda along as fact.
It should inform caution when two “scandals” in the past week were both sourced to Republicans leaking their “info” to the press. We should be investigating these Republicans and we should be holding the press accountable.
ABC should apologize, and the reporter should be fired. If you were going to bet your integrity on someone else’s interpretation of the facts that they won’t give to you to view with your own eyes, you’d better be damn sure they don’t have an agenda. You’d better be damn sure you trust their ability to be accurate.
Even then, who does that?
Ever play telephone? One go around with telephone should inform an average person that we all bring bias, emotion, history, triggers, and more to our interpretation of what is actually said. A reasonable person does not base a story on emails they have never seen, while claiming to have read them. They do not believe a partisan source with an agenda so much that they will take their word for what the emails said. This is absolutely outrageous, but nothing will happen to the press for it because the people tolerate it.
If you want a free press that vets its sources and is honest with you about who they are and what they have actually seen with their own eyes, outrage at being lied to on purpose must be voiced.
For a political writer, every source has an agenda. They give you a story because they have an agenda — no matter who they are. You have to vet that story. Agenda doesn’t mean they are lying. Sometimes the agenda is exposing the truth. But an agenda is always at play.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.