Back by popular demand!
Because so many of you enjoyed reading the adventures of the White House Press Corps with chief presidential spokesperson Scott McLellan on the subject of last week's security scare, I thought I'd bring you yet another exchange.
This time, the subject is single anonymous sources.
No, not the kind that fed Newsweek the contentious Koran-in-the-toilet story, but the sort that officially operates in the White House - but only unofficially.
Here's a taste from today's press briefing:
Q: In context of the Newsweek situation, I think we hear the caution you're giving us about reporting things based on a single anonymous source. What, then, are we supposed to do with information that this White House gives us under the conditions that it comes from a single anonymous source?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to.
Q: Frequent briefings by senior administration officials in which the ground rules are we can only identify them as a single anonymous source.
MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I know that there is an issue when it comes to the media in terms of the use of anonymous sources, but the issue is not related to background briefings. But I do believe that we should work to move away from those kind of background briefings. ...
But there is a credibility problem in the media regarding the use of anonymous sources, but it's because of fabricated stories, and it's because of situations like this one over the weekend. It's not because of the background briefings that you may be referring to.
Q: What prevents this administration from just saying from this point forward, you will identify who it is that's talking to us?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of background briefings, if that's what you're asking about, which I assume it is, let me point out that what I'm talking about there are officials who are helping to provide context to on-the-record comments made by people like the President or the Secretary of State or others. ... And as I said, one of the concerns is that some media organizations have used anonymous sources that are hiding behind that anonymity in order to generate negative attacks.
Q: But to our readers, viewers and listeners, I think it's all the same.
MR. McCLELLAN: And then you have a situation -- you have a situation where we found out later that quotes were attributed to people that they didn't make. Or you have a situation where you now learn that a single source was used for verifying this allegation -- and that source, himself, said he could not personally verify the accuracy of the report. ...
Honestly, you have to admire the guy's ability to say so little while talking so much.