February 28, 2013

New York | The Huffington Post | National Journal | Guardian
In his plea Thursday, U.S. PFC Bradley Manning said he’d tried to leak diplomatic cables to three news outlets, but he couldn’t get through to any of them.


“We have no record of Manning contacting The Times in advance of WikiLeaks,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Joe Coscarelli. Huffington Post reporter Michael Calderone followed up on a tweet by Times reporter Charlie Savage saying Manning had tried the public editor. Clark Hoyt was in that job at the time; he tells Calderone, “I have absolutely no recollection of ever hearing from him.”

Had Manning tried National Journal, he may enjoyed airtight anonymity. “Going back to my first political beat, covering Bill Clinton’s administration in Arkansas and later in Washington, I’ve had a practice that is fairly common in journalism: A handful of sources I deal with regularly are granted blanket anonymity,” NJ Editorial Director Ron Fournier writes.

Any time we communicate, they know I am prepared to report the information at will (matters of fact, not spin or opinion) and that I will not attribute it to them.

This is an important way to build a transparent and productive relationship between reporters and the people they cover. Nothing chills a conversation faster than saying, “I’m quoting you on this.”

Whatever that’s called, it isn’t journalism,” Glenn Greenwald writes in response, “though I have no doubt, as he says, that it’s an incredibly common practice in how the DC media ingratiates itself with the President and his top advisers.”

Calderone, in a perhaps unintentionally ironic echo of Manning’s plight, hasn’t heard back from the Post. I asked a spokesperson there and another at Politico about Manning’s reportedly thwarted contact with their organizations and will update if I hear back.

Disclosure: I used to work in the same newsroom as Politico and was once unable to get in to the office because of a snowstorm.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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