Anonymous Sources and Fairness

You don’t have to be a supporter of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief who’s been charged with sex crimes in New York City, to be appalled at some of the journalism about this case. Sadly, you can find a prime example on the website of the normally high-minded Center for Public Integrity, a totally damning piece by John Solomon based on lurid new allegations from two unnamed sources “familiar with the investigation.”

The sources insisted on anonymity, Solomon reports, “because of the ongoing investigation….” What in the world does that mean? Nothing: It’s an empty non-excuse for refusing to stand behind their own words.

Here’s my take. These sources are almost certainly in law enforcement. I believe they are almost certainly trying to solidify the public perception of Strauss-Kahn as a criminal scumbag, and do this so thoroughly that almost anyone serving on any jury will come into the trial with a predisposition to find him guilty — and that his defense lawyers, knowing that this is the case, will go with a plea bargain.

I don’t doubt that Solomon has reported faithfully what he was told. That doesn’t make any of it true. Nor do I doubt that Solomon and his editors trust these sources. There’s no reason why you should, since they won’t stand behind their own words.

I’m no fan of Strauss-Kahn, nor of the French media’s habit of glossing over ugly behavior among the people — almost all men — who rule government and business. He may well have done this crime. But I’m sticking with innocent until proved guilty.

I’ve been a longtime fan of, and have contributed to, the Center for Public Integrity. That won’t change. But as I’ve said privately to a friend in the organization, I believe this piece was way below the center’s standards.

One thought on “Anonymous Sources and Fairness”

  1. “I believe this piece was way below the center’s standards.”

    But not Solomon’s.

    Solomon showed his stripes when he signed on as the front man/editor for Moon’s Washington Times. In an appearance on C-span after he made it onto the Moon payroll, he pushed about every deception that the Moon org has used to sell the paper as something other than Moon’s effort to push our political system far right and more in tune with his theocratic ideology in his role as the “messiah” and G-d incarnate. Among its many roles, Moon also uses the paper to make his followers see him as powerful and give him face overseas. Moon has personally boasted about using the paper as an intelligence gathering asset.

    On C-span Solomon said he wanted to be sure people who read his WT reporters would feel they got all of the story. Funny, editing out facts to fit his agenda is what his critics charge him with doing. Search his name at Media Matters or Talkingpoints Memo for plenty on that.

    On c-span Solomon said that “every editor that (he) talked to” before taking the position in the Moon organization, said that there was no interference from the Unification Church at the WT. Beyond the fact that Moon doesn’t have to give orders to people like Solomon or Wes Pruden when he wants a USA skewed to the right – Solomon didn’t talk to the editors who have been reported all over the internet saying what he didn’t want to hear – and Solomon is supposed to be an “investigative” reporter.

    You can see Solomon shamelessly mainstreaming Moon’s agenda here:

    And for those who do not want to lie to themselves about what the Washington Times is all about watch this – pay close attention to the second and third speakers:

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