The Atlantic Editor In Chief Jeffrey Goldberg Says Anonymous Sourcing Is ‘Not Good Enough’ After Backlash Over Trump Story

Screenshot MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, conceded on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” Monday that anonymous sourcing is “not good enough” after backlash over a story about President Donald Trump.

Goldberg faced criticism after a Sept. 3 story used four anonymous sources to allege that the president referred to fallen soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.” Since its publication, Fox News and other publications have confirmed details of the story. Meanwhile, multiple current and former Trump administration members on the trip where the comments were allegedly made have denied the report, according to NBC News.

After saying the sources were allowed to remain anonymous because they feared “angry tweets and all the rest,” Goldberg elaborated and suggested criticism regarding the sourcing is fair. Despite the comments, Goldberg also backed up his decision on anonymous sourcing for the article as well as the contents of the story.

“These are people just like other people, and they have this anxiety,” Goldberg said. “It is a reasonable question to ask why people who have had direct exposure to Donald Trump, who know what Donald Trump has said, who know what Donald Trump has done, won’t simply come out and say it.”

“And I share that view that it’s not good enough,” he continued. “But, you know, like other reporters, I’m always balancing out the moral ambiguities and complications of anonymous sourcing with a public’s right to know.” (RELATED: Biden Megadonor Owns The Atlantic, Reportedly Communicates Often With Journalist Behind Anonymously-Sourced Trump Bombshell)


Goldberg reiterated his past defense, saying, “there is a fear on a kind of superficial level of a Twitter mob.” He also said that he thinks “people are torn” with interfering “in Democratic electoral processes” and dealing with “a president unlike something” people have experience before.

“There is also real fear of personal safety, fear for your family, fear for what you’d put everybody around you through if you started talking about this sort of thing,” Goldberg said.

The editor in chief continued on to quote Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin, whose reporting has, in part, backed up The Atlantic’s story. Griffin said Saturday to Fox’s Neil Cavuto that her “sources are not anonymous to” her after Trump called for her to be fired.

Griffin noted Saturday that although she did not confirm “every line of the Atlantic article,” she “did find people who were able to confirm” most of the report.

“I trust these sources. These are people in the various rooms. And, but yeah, obviously it would be better if people would say — attach their names to what they know,” Goldberg said on MSNBC.