Ed Driscoll

Anonymity, Si! Transparency, No

Hugh Hewitt posts that he would be happy to discuss his memories of working with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts with a reporter from the Washington Post–if she was willing to interview him during his radio show:

The subject didn’t matter to me. I had my assistant call back and say fine. She could interview me. Only one condition: The interview had to be conducted on air, live, during my broadcast. Would she please call the show line at 3:06 Pacific?

I had a similar request from a New York Times reporter for a similar interview a couple of days back. I made the same offer. He didn’t respond.

Amy Goldstein did respond. She declined. My assistant relayed that Ms. Goldstein didn’t want her story “out there” before it ran.

Fine, I thought. But then I got to thinking: Isn’t journalism supposed to be in the public interest? If Goldstein wants information from me, and I am willing to give it to her, isn’t she putting her own interests in a “scoop” or an “angle” ahead of the public’s by refusing to conduct an interview she thought would be useful in the first place? And isn’t she going forward with a story she knows may well be unnecessarily incomplete because she doesn’t like the fact that her questions and my answers would have been on the record?

I of course want my listeners to get a chance if not to see the sausage that is MSM “news” being made, at least hear it being ground fine. I had hoped to compare whatever I was able to provide Ms. Goldstein with whatever it is that she publishes on the subject. Interesting all around, no?

But she declined to conduct the interview she requested. How interesting to note that the Post is willing to use sources that insist on anonymity, but not sources that demand transparency.

I’m not sure if I’d want to interview somebody for an article on the air myself. But on the other hand, I’m not out to play the same kinds of gotcha games that the legacy media have specialized in since the days of Watergate.

Update: Roger L. Simon writes that he’d like to employ a level of transparency on the Pajamas Media site similar to what Hugh discusses above. It would be a remarkable contrast to big media’s approach to interviews and journalism, as one of Roger’s commenters highlights:

[The MSM] will never do it unless the market forces them to do it. If they printed or allowed their web site to carry the entire interview it would take away their most prized weapons. The ability to take partial qoutes and tailor them to the narrative that they are weaving.It would also take away their ability to play the “He said this but this is what he really meant” trick of taking the person being interviewed words and interpret the “true” meaning. The press has fallen in love with the ability to treat the news as a historical novel. Lets face it, it is harder to be a great reporter when you can’t play a little bit with the facts.

Well, it’s definitely harder to play at being a great reporter when you can’t play with the facts.