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Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: pdq
Date: June 29, 2020 08:52AM
The NYT, talking about the retiring WaPo executive editor, included this tidbit:

Quote

Almost anyone who works in the Washington Post newsroom can look inside its publishing system, Methode, to see what stories are coming. And at the height of the furor over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 2018, some who did saw a shocking article awaiting publication.

In the article, Bob Woodward, the Post legend who protected the identity of his Watergate source, Deep Throat, for 30 years, was going to unmask one of his own confidential sources. He was, in particular, going to disclose that Judge Kavanaugh had been an anonymous source in his 1999 book “Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate.”

Mr. Woodward was planning to expose Mr. Kavanaugh because the judge had publicly denied - in a huffy letter in 1999 to The Post - an account about Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton that he had himself, confidentially, provided to Mr. Woodward for his book. (Mr. Kavanaugh served as a lawyer on Mr. Starr’s team.)

The article, described by two Post journalists who read it, would have been explosive, arriving as the nominee battled a decades-old sexual assault allegation and was fighting to prove his integrity.

... Mr. Baron and other editors persuaded Mr. Woodward that it would be bad for The Post and “bad for Bob” to disclose a source, one of the journalists told me. The piece never ran.

Even with my political leanings, I tend to think the editor is right. This certainly doesn’t improve my opinion of Kavanaugh, who in replying to the sexual assault claims of Christine Blasey Ford (and several others) seems to have honed the art of the huffy denial to razor sharpness. But as a matter of journalistic ethics, you don’t burn a confidential source unless you find out they lied.

Who knows if it would have changed things. Between this and Clarence Thomas, Republicans have a way of rallying around their Supreme Court nominees accused of creepiness or worse.
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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: Speedy
Date: June 29, 2020 09:02AM
It would have made zero difference. He could have shot someone on Fifth Avenue and Moscow Mitch would have pushed him through. Elections have consequences.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: June 29, 2020 09:06AM
I agree that the end result would have been the same and the Post would have violated a tenet of its integrity.
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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: Sarcany
Date: June 29, 2020 01:20PM
Quote
mrbigstuff
I agree that the end result would have been the same and the Post would have violated a tenet of its integrity.

Not at all.

It's perfectly ethical to reveal a source when the source subsequently lies about the exact subject of his previously anonymous disclosures, in particular when those lies can have great impact on the reputation of the paper and/or its reporters.

It's considered abuse of the system of ethics when someone tries to take advantage to play both sides. You lose the privilege of anonymity when you abuse it.



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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: June 29, 2020 01:40PM
Quote
Sarcany
It's considered abuse of the system of ethics when someone tries to take advantage to play both sides. You lose the privilege of anonymity when you abuse it.


Not in any newsroom I have ever worked in. Anonymity was kept regardless unless the person released us from it. Even after Mark Felt told the world he was Deep Throat, the Post did not acknowledge it until he told them they could.

Any news organization that does not follow that tenet has some serious issues.

That said, at the Times our staff could not grant anonymity without approval by the executive editor. If they did, any material given by the source could not be used.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld

"WE CALL BS!" -- Emma Gonzalez
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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: June 29, 2020 02:08PM
Quote
Sarcany
Quote
mrbigstuff
I agree that the end result would have been the same and the Post would have violated a tenet of its integrity.

Not at all.

It's perfectly ethical to reveal a source when the source subsequently lies about the exact subject of his previously anonymous disclosures, in particular when those lies can have great impact on the reputation of the paper and/or its reporters.

It's considered abuse of the system of ethics when someone tries to take advantage to play both sides. You lose the privilege of anonymity when you abuse it.

Well, that is in direct contradiction to the few articles I've seen defending the Post in not publishing.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2020 02:08PM by mrbigstuff.
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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: AllGold
Date: June 29, 2020 07:28PM
Quote
Speedy
It would have made zero difference. He could have shot someone on Fifth Avenue and Moscow Mitch would have pushed him through. Elections have consequences.

Correct.

Kavanagh's confirmation process was effectively a job interview for one of the most prestigious jobs in the world and sexual assault allegations aside, it was clear he wasn't up to snuff.



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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: Sarcany
Date: June 29, 2020 07:55PM
[www.salon.com]

The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum argued yesterday that despite the need for journalists to use confidential sources, "the profession -- and the rest of us -- [are] better off if sources know that they run the risk of being unmasked if their mendacity is egregious enough to become newsworthy in its own right." Drum added: "I'd say that part of [Ross'] re-reporting ought to include a full explanation of exactly who was peddling the bentonite lie in the first place, and why they were doing it." Nonetheless, Drum said: "In practice, most journalists refuse to identify their sources under any circumstances at all, even when it's clear that those sources deliberately lied to them."

Drum is right that it is unusual for journalists to out their "sources" even when they are exploiting the confidentiality pledge to disseminate lies to the public, but such outing is by no means unprecedented. Last year, when I first wrote about ABC's broadcasting of this false Saddam/anthrax story, I spoke with numerous experts in "journalistic ethics," such as they are, and all of them -- journalists, Journalism Professors, and media critics alike -- agreed that while the obligation of source confidentiality is close to absolute, it does not extend to a source who deliberately exploits confidentiality to disseminate lies to the public. Under those circumstances, it's axiomatic in journalistic ethics that a reporter is not only permitted, but required, to disclose the identity of the source who purposely used the reporter to spread lies...




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Re: Tidbit about Kavanaugh
Posted by: RgrF
Date: June 29, 2020 08:07PM
The value of anonymity outweighs the value of disclosure.
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