White House press secretary Sean Spicer talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Washington. Spicer discussed XXXXX and other topics. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Anonymous Source Says Something. Named Source Disputes It. New York Times Believes the Anonymous Source.

I think the key bit of testimony from James Comey yesterday was this bit in an exchange with Peter King (R-NY):

Leaks have always been a problem. I read over the weekend subjects from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln complaining about them. But I do think in the last six weeks and couple of months there’s been, at least apparently, a lot of conversation about classified matters that’s ending up in the media, and a lot of it is just dead wrong which is one of the challenges because we don’t correct it.

A lot of what anonymous sources are saying is wrong. A good bit of it has been fabricated. But the media is reporting every salacious detail that comports with their world view. The latest comes today from the New York Times, which includes this key bit:

Within the White House, a number of Mr. Trump’s advisers — including the press secretary, Sean Spicer, who has himself repeated unsubstantiated claims of British spying on Mr. Trump — have told allies that Mr. Trump’s Twitter habits are making their jobs harder, said administration officials interviewed over the past week. Mr. Spicer said he has no problem with his boss’s tweeting. “It’s just not true. I have not commented on the tweets to anyone including my wife,” he said in an email.

An anonymous source says Sean Spicer is unhappy with President Trump’s tweeting. Mr. Spicer denies it. The New York Times reporter tweets it as fact and the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, has to call them out on Twitter for making up stuff.

One anonymous source tells the New York Times what the Times thinks has to be true. But the actual person denies it. Still, the Times runs the anonymous source as the credible fact.

This is the state of journalism in America. Narratives are more important than facts. Remember too that this is about traffic. No doubt Glenn Thrush’s tweet about Spicer will drive traffic to his story. That will boost the story on the screen at the New York Times that shows incoming traffic to the Times’ website. Reporters have every incentive to print stories with anonymous sources confirming their biases because scandal drives traffic and traffic ultimately drives paychecks and hiring and firing decisions.

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Erick Erickson

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