December 10, 2016

The problem with anonymous sources

While we're not opposed to anonymous sources, we quote them as seldom as possible. Thus we have been extremely careful about citing reported CIA revelations about Russian interference in the US election. This is not because we think this impossible or unlikely but simply because the evidence relies too much on the reported anonymous views of highly skilled liars in American intelligence. This is not to say the reported information should not be thoroughly investigated, only that it should not be accepted without back up evidence.

Glenn Greenwald writes instructively on this matter   and while in this case he may be unduly cautious, he makes points that are useful considering whether in this case or not the anonymous revelations are accurate. As he notes:
Needless to say, questions about who hacked the DNC and Podesta email accounts are serious and important ones. The answers have widespread implications on many levels. That’s all the more reason these debates should be based on publicly disclosed evidence, not competing, unverifiable anonymous leaks from professional liars inside government agencies, cheered by drooling, lost partisans anxious to embrace whatever claims make them feel good, all conducted without the slightest regard for rational faculties or evidentiary requirements.


greg gerritt said...

And I would ban anonymous commenters too. If you ewill not sign your name, your word is worthless

Anonymous said...

And just think, pseudonym was the preferred means of public communication for James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay when they published their essays now known as the Federalist Papers. Voltaire, John Locke, too, published under pseudonym.
Guess their words were, or are, worthless to you. Must be so as they surely would not approve of your desire to ban individual expression.