In Salon, Glenn Greenwald spent the weekend doggedly pursuing a series of disturbing questions — old but terribly pertinent once more — about ABC News’ coverage of the anthrax attacks in Oct. 2001. Specifically, the network promoted reports that linked the anthrax letters to Saddam Hussein — reports that (a) we now know had zero basis in fact and (b) were based on confidential sourcing. The identity of those sources (whom we can today judge as manipulative liars) could tell us a lot about the deceptions that led us into Iraq and the many unanswered questions still swirling around the anthrax incidents.
The key thing about protecting anonymous sources is: it’s all about protecting whistleblowers from retribution. If you’re a reporter and you discover that your sources demanded anonymity because they were manipulating you or lying, you’re no longer under any obligation to protect them. (See Greenwald on all this here.) In fact, the public good probably demands that you expose them. Which is what Greenwald, and Rosen, and Gillmor, and what I hope will be a growing number of respected voices are all pushing for in the case of ABC and anthrax.
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