Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan says anonymous sources provide a better foundation to a news story than official sources. Sullivan was speaking to CBC News Saturday about how the Washington Post used 30 anonymous sources to write its article this week on President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
The story, which alleged sinister motives on behalf of Trump, was composed by four reporters and was pieced together from “the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI and on Capitol Hill, as well as Trump confidants and other senior Republicans, [to] paint a conflicting narrative centred on the president’s brewing personal animus toward Comey.”
Despite standing behind the Post’s latest story, Sullivan claims that she would prefer not to use unnamed sources because of the obvious reasons: they offer no accountability or assessment.
“There is no way to get at the story through talking to the White House press secretary or listening to the spin that is offered by officials who are willing to go on the record,” she told CBC News.
Sullivan made the claim while talking to Canada’s government-owned broadcaster for a segment of the The Investigators. Sullivan did agree with Trump on one point: that “there is a tremendous amount of leaking being done.”
On Friday, Trump declared to Fox News’ Judge Jeanine that his communications team can’t keep up with him and he even suggested that it might be high time to elimate the daily White House briefings to the media.
Not surprisingly, Sullivan recoiled at the very thought, saying that the daily briefings are more essential today than ever because the Trump administration is using the media to tell “people things they need to know about an administration that is spinning and it’s quite opaque.”