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July 18, 2005

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Apropos of this and the piece yesterday, the public isn't part of the secret compact between reporters and sources, as was pointed out. But I think the public has (or had) an expectation that the journalist has done some independent checking to verify what the anonymous leaker has said, so that the public can more or less trust the story. At least this is the image we got from Watergate, in which Deep Throat gave the boys leads and they chased down information, knocking on doors etc.

As the press has become more of stenographers, that has really broken down, and people like Judith Miller now explicitly don't see their role as including independent research to fact check the anonymous sources. I think that is the source of the public's (justifiable) frustration and anger. If you wanted to be an Admin spokesperson, why not just take that job? Stop masquerading as a dashing and/or glamorous reporter, part of the noble 4th estate. A flack is a flack is a flack. The press has only itself to blame for their low esteem.

Pass the popcorn! This is going to be another not-fun day for Scott McClellan, as more Rove cover-up bites the dust - the claim that Rove's conversation was about welfare reform (sic), and merely touched on Wilson at the end, has now joined the inoperative list.

To the immediate point, when even Howie Kurtz admits that this whole episode hasn't been a shining media moment, you can feel the ground shifting. (Perhaps with 7.0+ intensity, in Left Coast terms.) It's plain from Kurtz's column that a good many reporters are aware of how much they've been in the tank, and feel a need to restore their honor.

It's a curious coincidence - if it IS a coincidence - that this whole thing is playing out against the backdrop of the Deep Throat retrospective, as if to remind everyone of the difference between a watchdog press and a lapdog press.

-- Rick Robinson

Proof of the truth of the old saying "even a stopped clock gets it right twice a day."

As far as Judith Miller is concerned, maybe we'll all get lucky and she'll get shanked. Or raped. Or something else equally awful that will make these Ivy League yuppie scum masquerading as "intelligent reporters" get it.

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