Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A modest proposal

The Washington press corps -- by which I mean the representatives of the corporate media, including the Associated Press, the television networks, the New York Times and those few other newspapers and newspaper chains who still have their own reporters in DC -- should agree on the following policy.

"Senior Administration Officials" -- which means, essentially any political appointee including cabinet secretaries, administrators of independent agencies, and their deputies and assistants, official spokespersons for government agencies, political operatives of all stripes, and of course the president's staff including the office of the White House counsel, the chief of staff, and the National Security Agency -- will not be quoted nor will their remarks be paraphrased, discussed, represented or alluded to, unless the speakers or writers are identified. There is no reason I can think of why it is in the public interest for the phrase, "A senior administration official, who did not wish to be identified, said . . ." ever to appear in any broadcast or print report by any journalistic outlet which expects to be viewed as legitimate or credible. Nor any phrase with similar meaning.

Whistleblowers, as they call them -- people who reveal information to reporters that powerful people do not wish to be revealed -- are a different category. Bill Keller may not be able to grasp the difference, but obviously, I'm a lot smarter than he is. Or maybe just more honest.

I probably won't be back until Sunday, as is usual this time of year. Stay cool.

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