Thursday, October 12, 2006


Self-Contradiction at the AP

I wasn't intending to post today -- I've been busy lately. But this just made me laugh:
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- Democrat Mark R. Warner, the former governor of Virginia, has decided not to run for president in 2008, Democratic officials said Thursday.

Warner, 51, scheduled a late morning news conference in Richmond to make the announcement, according to two Democratic officials who refused to be identified because they did not want to upstage Warner's announcement.
This is so self-parodying, I'm not sure where to begin. Is it not obvious that these two nameless "officials" are upstaging Gov. Warner by spilling the beans early? What was their reason for remaining anonymous, then?

It's well-nigh unbelievable that anyone would say such a thing. My officemate, the long-suffering Daniel T., suggests that perhaps the two "officials" remained anonymous for the usual reasons -- so as not to get into trouble for leaking information they had no business leaking -- and that it was the AP reporter who invented the "upstaging" reason. If so, however, it seems that some journalists, anxious to avoid saying anything negative about Democrats (or anything positive about Republicans), are going to absurd extremes. (Call it Journalistic Objectivity, 21st-century style.)

Or perhaps the leakers in question explicitly asked that the news not be released before Gov. Warner's press conference... and later insisted that, if the information was to be published, that their identities be withheld. (I could then see a reporter cheerfully filing the story anyway, and thinking "hmm, they seem reluctant to upstage Warner; let me say something about that too".)

I'm not sure who is less responsible here -- the people who leaked the information, or the journalists who published it. Frankly, I'm not overly confident of either at this point, even though the information is pretty trivial.

But isn't that the point of integrity -- to maintain high standards, even when the results aren't important? If you try to maintain standards for the important stuff, while allowing yourself to get lazy for the small stuff, then where do you draw the line -- and how do you know you've drawn it in the right place?

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