Monday, November 14, 2005

Anonymous Liars

Eric Engberg has a great piece about confidential sources who lie. He cites the example of convicted criminal and current government employee Elliott Abrams, who lied to him about the operations of Lt. Crmnl. Oliver North back in the day. I wouldn't be surprised if Abrams continues to be a valued source for the reliable hacks in the Washington press corps, along with the various other indicted and as-yet-unindicted liars in the Bush Admnistration.

Of course, Mr. Engberg assumes an ethical press corps (or, at least one interested in returning to ethical standards). But when you've got reporters who conspire to deliberately mislead readers -- as in describing an Administration official a "former Hill staffer" -- it's not a case of politicians using the media, it's a case of the media abusing its readers. (How could a reporter accurately identify Abrams today: "An Administration official formerly convicted of lying to Congress"?) And if certain outlets adopted the laudable standards that Mr. Engberg proposes, the liars would still have plenty of outlets to which they could peddle their lies. Still, refusing to quote liars anonymously is a small first step toward actually exposing the Administration's lies.

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