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Sunday, May 13, 2018
MRC's Double Standard on 'Bitter 'Complaints About Anonymous Sources
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Kyle Drennen writes in an April 27 post that "In a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday, disgraced former Today show anchor Matt Lauer bitterly went after his sexual harassment accusers, dismissing the “many false stories” about his behavior “from anonymous or biased sources.” The comments came amid a lengthy Post report on NBC’s poor handling of such allegations, which also detailed new accusations of harassment against former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw."

So you're "bitter" if you complain about anonymously sourced reporting? In that case, the MRC is very bitter.

Tim Graham and Brent Bozell complained in a Martch 2017 column that "It’s beyond irony that the press that champions transparency also advocates relying on completely opaque sources on a daily basis," adding, "wouldn’t it help to know if these liberal newspapers are relying on Obama holdovers and granting them all the benefits of anonymity?" They also grumbled: "But we never know the donation records of 'senior U.S. officials' placed anonymously on the front page, do we? The liberal media merely insist 'Trust us.'"

Graham and Bozell bashed anonymous sources again in a May 2017 column attacking the Washington Post: "How many times must we attend the same movie? As we've seen so many times since Trump became president, these are anonymous leaks coming from nameless, faceless people whose motives might be pure, or could be poisonous." They added:

Earth to the Post: your new motto is “Democracy dies in darkness,” but anonymous sourcing is darkness. Every source who hides behind a wall as he tries to ruin other people’s careers is a self-serving coward with a personal or political axe to grind. Without knowing an identity, the public has no way of telling... anything. It’s idiotic for the press to demand transparency in government at the exact same time it rewards government officials who refuse to be transparent themselves. 

Journalists pat themselves on the back that they would never be “stenographers to power,” but they’re worse than that now.  In their zeal to destroy Trump, they've become stenographers to anonymous power. 

Graham reinforced his bitter argument in a TV appearance that same month (on Fox News, natch), grousing that "the news media today gets to use these anonymous sources, and the anonymous sources can say all sorts of terrible things about Trump" and repeating the "stenographers to anonymous power" talking point.

This bitterness is doubly hypocritical, given that just before the 2016 election, the MRC expended lots of time and energy promoting an anonymously sourced Fox News story suggesting that Hillary Clinton's indictment was imminent. But Fox News later had to retract that story -- something the MRC never told its readers about.

So it seems the MRC is bitter about anonymous sources only when they fail to advance its right-wing agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:34 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, May 13, 2018 12:09 PM EDT

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