Newsweek Publishes Scathing Administration Critique With No Named Sources

For those who have read or seen a lot of press reports since the announcement of the indictments against I. Lewis Libby on Friday, you have likely observed a growing number of quotes from White House “aides” and “insiders” concerning a state of panic and disarray within the administration. Yet, most of these reports do not give the names of the sources, and, instead, suggest that the informants wish to retain anonymity due to the current environment within the White House.

Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe wrote an article for the upcoming issue entitled, “Flying Blind,” wherein they asserted, “Team Bush is in turmoil.” To be sure, the title is quite appropriate, for not one of the eight “quotes” or paraphrases from White House “aides” identified the name of the source. In fact, two of these (the second and third bullets below) were referenced by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" this morning:

Stephanopoulos: Well, let me just -- one more question on this because there was a kind of a surprising quote in "Newsweek" magazine just out this week. It said, "'This is a White House in turmoil right now,' said a senior aide in the White House. As for Rove, the aide said, some insiders believe that he had behaved if not criminally then certainly unethically." You have people from the White House telling "Newsweek" magazine they believed Karl Rove behaved unethically. Doesn't he have an obligation to clear it up and doesn't the president have an obligation to clear that up?

Here is a complete list of all the unnamed quotes and paraphrases in this article:

  1. “‘The indictment speaks for itself,’ said the aide, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the situation.”
  2. “‘This is a White House in turmoil right now,’ said a senior aide, one of many who declined to speak on the record at a time of peril and paranoia.”
  3. “As for Rove, the aide said, some insiders believed that he had ‘behaved, if not criminally, then certainly unethically.’"
  4. “As an aide now tells it, Cheney's influence began to wane from the start of the second term and effectively came to an end as the Fitzgerald investigation gained momentum in recent months.”
  5. “‘You can say that the influence of the vice president is going to decrease, but it's hard to decrease from zero,’ said a senior official sympathetic to Cheney's policies.”
  6. “Bush has grown more confident, aides say, having jettisoned the Cheney training wheels.”
  7. “‘The president has formulated a lot of his own views,’ said an aide, ‘and has a very firm idea of what he wants to do and accomplish with his foreign policy.’"
  8. “‘Now isn't the time for a long ball,’ said a senior aide. ‘It's time for simple blocking and tackling. We have to demonstrate that we can make sound, competent decisions.’"

History suggests that Ben Bradley, the former editor of the Washington Post, insisted that someone go on the record concerning the Watergate scandal before he would allow anything to be published in his paper about it. Today, journalists are under no such obligation from their editors or news producers, and, as this article clearly demonstrates, can write or state whatever they want without naming one source.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.