Sunday, June 5


Bob Schieffer thinks today's press intimidation doesn't come close to what the Nixon crew tried and/or contemplated to do to the media.

David Gergen: Woodward and Bernstein vetted their sources and got double confirmations before they went to press. Not being done so much today, too much reliance on single anonymous sources. Richard Clarke is an example of the honorable way to handle dissent, he resigned and then went public openly.

Schieffer: Watergate shows how it should be done. They didn't just buy what one source told them, they checked it against other sources. The truth is the result and it is its own defense against bias.

Gergen: In the Reagan administration we had a policy that a certain number of people would meet with certain media on a regular basis to provide background. We believed it was important to establish relationships with reporters to build trust, which is the coin of the realm.

Schieffer: I couldn't have done my job without anonymous sources, but again, you have to check it out.


None of us could do our jobs without using anonymous sources.

Are we worried about legal action against journalists protecting sources? Kelli Arena: Yes, there's been a sea change. Steve Roberts (Cokie's husband): Felt was a hero. He was the classic case of a government whistleblower with conscience. The problem with defending the reporters protecting their sources involved in the Plame case is that we're dealing with a sleazebag who outed a CIA agent for political purposes. It's hard to defend. Arena: Yes, but do you want to start us on the slippery slope? Jackie Judd: We don't press anonymous sources enough to go on the record because it's "sexier" to cite anonymous sources, it adds credibility to the story.

Motivations behind Mark Felt revealing himself as Deep Throat? Jackie Judd: Probably as complicated as his reasons for leaking in the first place. In the end, it only matters that the story is true.

Kelli Arena: I think all news organizations are reviewing how anonymous sources are to be used. There's a push by editors to, if not get the name, to at least characterize the source's position as closely as possible, and to put into context their motivations in speaking out.

Steve Roberts: No such thing as a pure source. Everybody has a reason, whether honorable, ego-related, whatever. You always have to factor that in. And, like Jackie said, check check check.


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