palin-pregnancy

The use of anonymous sources in the media, has blurred the line for bloggers and journalists alike.

Don’t have a source, but you believe something is true (or not), print it anyway, subscribed to that ubiquitous anon source, no responsibility on your part to prove your premise.

Yesterday I landed on the latest HuffPost article related to that most annoying rogue, Sarah Palin.  The story itself was sourced, unlike so many others on Huffington Post. What was unsourced were the comments of the bloggers, many of whom posted links to various Palin blogs, all links related to a story about the birth of Palin’s youngest child, Trig.

You may recall that during the campaign, shortly after Palin was introduced as the RNC’s latest Pig With Lipstick, a story began circulating on the net regarding the birth of Trig. The speculation involved a number of images of Palin, timing, and other factors, and many bloggers (even mainstream bloggers such as Andrew Sullivan) bit on it and made it in to a crusade.  The overriding problem emerged; there was no real evidence to support the theories. It was all based on conjecture and anon sources.

Even mainstream,  highly respected bloggers such as Andrew Sullivan, got pulled in to the story, and became obsessed with speculation.

I had already determined that I would not publish anything which referred to her children on my(former) blog, and so I avoided the “Trig Trap”. But, in another example, I fell right in to that proverbial trap, and I still am not sure how I feel about it.

Here again I am using Sarah Palin to make a point, as a story emerged about an incident which reputedly occurred in Alaska after Obama’s primary win.  An incident, you may recall, in which she is said to have referred to Obama as “Sambo” —  “So Sambo beat the bitch!”.  I first read the story on the LA Progressive site.

Does it sound plausible to you? It did to me, so enraged at her derisive and racist name calling, I decided to blog it myself in spite of the lack of  anything but one anonymous source.  Unfortunately for me, my conscience soon forced me to reconsider, and so when I could not get Snopes to verify it, I pulled the original post from my blog.

The author who first published the story faced a similar issue, although he chose to publish anyway, and eventually was so heavily criticized, that he also published the story of how he got the story.  You can read his original post here. And his follow-up commentary,  in which he defends his use of anonymous sources,  here.

And that brings me to the question which I have been considering ever since, and which was once again brought to the forefront not only by the story on HuffPost which brought out the bloggers, but by the many speculative stories put out by Queen Arianna in her seeming quest to hate on Barack daily……….

Where do we draw the line?

While it’s a great deal of fun to spin conjecture in to full-fledged fantasies, is it right to do so?

Are anonymous sources just a means of printing pure conjecture?

What’s your opinion?

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AdLib
Admin

Well said, excellent piece!

Looking at how the MSM has gotten lazy, ratings crazed and in bed with corporations (not to mention serving their parent corporations), I think the growth of the internet for news and opinion has been fueled by their declining lack of standards, investigative journalism and independence.

People don’t trust the MSM the way they used to and that’s a good thing. They turn to the internet but that too is vulnerable to corruption as we have seen.

The down side is that the MSM has become corrupt and can’t and shouldn’t be blindly trusted again after the march to war in Iraq (for which they all pounded the drums) and cowardice throughout the Bush years.

The up side is that these internets tubes provide a medium and platform that allows people of reason to speak out on issues and seek truth alongside those who want to obscure the truth.

And we can watch hamsters rolling around eating kernels of popcorn on piano keyboards at the same time!

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Kalima
Admin

Most MSM with the exception of KO and Rachel, remind me of the party game, where 20 0r more people have to whisper into the ear of the next person in line what they heard from the person to their right or left and the last person has to say it out loud to everyone there. It was always hilarious because it was just a game. Reporting downright untruths as facts for millions of viewers or readers is not a game and can at times be dangerous. Anyone who does this should be shamed into admitting that in fact it is just an unconfirmed rumour and proved wrong on the internet or articles. Oh silly me, Faux news? has no shame.

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Corgi Lover
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I would include the first 30-40 minutes of the Ed Show in that short list, right up to the point where he brings in the panel and lets some person from the right start their propaganda. Ed brings them in line to a degree, but they irritate me to no end.

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AdLib
Admin

The film “Network” announced what was coming down the line. Once the corporations took over networks, news was required to be another profit center.

Truth is not necessarily interesting at times, it doesn’t get the highest ratings or bring in the ad bucks. So for networks and cable news, “Truth” was canceled.

Who knows, maybe we can catch “Truth” in reruns on Nick at Night.

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Kalima
Admin

The demise of investigative reporting unless it’s hanging in a tree outside some celebs house all night peeing in a jar, is very sad. Has someone got their balls in a vise??

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Corgi Lover
Guest

Unfortunately, those going to their windows and yelling “I won’t take it anymore” aren’t the sane ones who understand why they’re yelling, but the ones who are yelling because of the lies they’ve been fed.

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KQµårk 死神
Member

Very timely and adroit article. The forth estate died once it sold out and became profit centers when they use to be loss leaders. The blog world is no better because they report option and like you stated stories from “anonymous sources” as fact without the proper fact checking required. “Anonymous sources” are not the root of the problem. The press has used anonymous sources for decades to get at the truth. The problem is with the 24/7 news cycle and the blog world the pressure on the current media to report news stories in a vastly compressed time frame. We are going to see more and more of these stories that are simple not true. How I miss the fourth estate.

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BigDogMom
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BigDogMom

Wonderful post nicole, I’m finding it harder and harder to believe the information that is out there, whether it be on the news or in print…I’ve taken to reading between the lines and checking two or three other main news outlets to see how close or how far apart they are…

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kesmarn
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Nicole, great points.
One of the most annoying and most favorite tactics of the right–especially Fox–is to make their point by asking a question: e.g. Rahm Emmanuel, is he in charge? ACORN, corrupt from top to bottom?
They can then say: “We don’t have an agenda! We’re just asking questions! That’s what good journalists do, isn’t it?”
All wide-eyed innocence…
Sigh.

Is HP far behind?

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BigDogMom
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BigDogMom

‘Just saying…’ The throw it out there and see if it sticks type of questions..gives the author/journalist an out if they are called out on their statement…Just asking, as Lou Dobbs would say…:]

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Corgi Lover
Guest

It seems that substantiation gets harder, not easier. The infamous “Google it” has turned into a waste of effort often as there is so much misinformation that you have difficulty finding the base sources and what was really said.

My current example is the Fox News / White House story from last week regarding the news feed. There is already a mythology built up around this “war” and what happened. Did Fox get purposefully slammed or not. According to my favorite liberal talking head, no, but I can’t find the information to accept or deny it, and already I have people who are buying the MSM adopted (?) story as Fox puts it out. I’m simple, I’d like to know what’s real on it.

People forget the deliniation between data and information, and sadly, between fact and spin. Having grown up with “Uncle Walter” I remember what relatively unadulterated news was like, even though I know even then there was corporate and, to a certain degree, government tampering with it. I also know that our own mythological history of getting the facts from newspapers doesn’t hold up in the light of day as much as we’d like, whether we look at Randolph Hearst or newspamplets from the Revolutionary War.

The discerning reader or observer must have a strong ability to look at the character and motivation of the source and the presenter, the type of information and the voracity of it as compared to other proven information, and whether or not there is a case for honest deniability. Unfortunately, far too many have become either too lazy or lack the cognitive skills to take this effort on.

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