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Outing sources who lie

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Boomer7, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. Boomer7

    Boomer7 Active Member

    I mentioned this in the anthrax thread on the Sports/News board, but this might be a better place for a discussion on the responsibility of ABC News in this mess. The question is, if government sources lied to ABC about a purported link between Iraq and the anthrax attacks, should ABC out the sources?

  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I think ABC should go back and do a story about why government sources wanted to link anthrax to Iraq and name everyone it can.

    It could be that some schlub thought he was passing good info because that's what his bosses wanted him to do.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    If a source lies to you, all bets are off. The idea behind an anonymous source is that you will go to the grave protecting him or her because he or she gave you honest information and put themselves at risk to get the story out. If they are lying to you or using you for disinformation, all bets are off, and furthermore, as the reporter who was lied to, it is perfectly appropriate to expose the person for what they did. The only caveat to all of that is make sure you know for certain you were lied to and used and double check and confirm everything before you give up a source out of the sense of "spite" I am advocating.
  4. JakeandElwood

    JakeandElwood Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. They screwed up your arrangement, so they deserve no protection. Oh, and like Ace's idea of doing a story on their motivation, too.
  5. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    That's just it. It's an arrangement.

    I think a good analogy would be a prosecutor cutting a deal with a witness to either drop or lower charges for testimony. If the testimony proves to not be the truth, the deal for leniency goes away.

    If a source proves to be a liar, the deal for anonymity goes away.
  6. JakeandElwood

    JakeandElwood Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a good analogy to me, too.
  7. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I frankly don't know why we don't see more of this in the news. Of course, you out a source, usually a highly-placed administration official, and you no longer will get these "tips."
    I still want to know who was pushing the Jessica Lynch story.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Bingo, precisely.

    As long as the info is good -- or the source had good reason to believe it himself -- then you go to the grave with it.

    As soon as you KNOW they were just using you to float trial balloons -- hang 'em from the highest tree.

    This argument comes up here from time to time. Several times in the past, people have gotten extremely hot about this, claiming true journalists never ever ever ever ever ever give up a source, NO MATTER WHAT, and anybody who does (regardless of the circumstances) is an unethical SOB who should be drummed out of the profession.
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