Through the looking glass


Former anonymous source laments press gallery’s use of anonymous sources.


Through the looking glass

  1. I am curious about your thoughts on this subject Aaron.

  2. I'm beginning to think that Delacourt was set up.

    • If she was she fell for it from velshi AND from Dhalla…..not her best day and not Velshi's best day either….Dhalla, well its all relative isnt it.

      • Agreed.

    • It couldn't happen to a nicer Liberal reporter. She is one mean spirited reporter who doesn't even try to hide her bias.

  3. I'm all for cynicism when it comes to our politicians whatever their stripe, but is it just me or is Wherry on a prolonged anti-Harper kick lately?

  4. I'm all for cynicism when it comes to our politicians whatever their stripe, but is it just me or is Wherry on a prolonged anti-Harper kick lately? And if so, could it have to do with the current Liberal meltdown-in-progress? And if yes, is that because he likes to fight for the underdog or because of alarmed partisanship seeping into his political commentary?

    • This is about CPC mouthpieces/red herring creators, not the PM.

    • This is about the hypocrisy of CPC mouthpieces/red herring creators, not the PM.

  5. I'd like to propose an experiment. How about every Canadian journalist abstain from uisng anonymous sources for…say..one year. Just to see what effect it would have on our politics.

    Bonus – Jane Taber would be out of a job.

    Who's in?

    • I support the use of anonymous sources. It's just that journalists seem to have become confused about when anonymity is important or not. They all seem to believe they're dealing with "Deep Throat" every time some piece of gossip floats their way.

      What I do wish is that the "profession" had binding standards of practice the way real professions do. But it's too late for that.

  6. I thought Kory's print piece today was well-written, and I also would like to know Aaron's thoughts on this subject.

  7. From 10ikes article:

    "I know, this sounds a bit hypocritical coming from the guy who until recently made a living being an unnamed "PMO official","

    Yes, yes it does.

  8. In gotcha journalism, there is no credible anonymous source.

  9. The fact of the matter is that this caucus doesn't air its dirty laundry. That's a liberal thing. So why would Soudas deliberately rat out Velshi and why would Tenecke pounce some more on reporters who use anonymous sources?

    Well I smell a rat. I think that Delacourt was set up. I think that this whole thing was a plan to discredit Delacourt and she fell for it.

  10. I was disappointed Kory didn't explain why he was an anonymous source. He was the official spokesperson, so why couldn't he speak under his own name? If there were fewer people wanting to be anonymous sources, maybe the media would treat them more as a special case, and run down the guidelines on when and when not to use them. As it is, since almost every story seems to have an anonymous source at its heart, it can't help but become standard practice to use them.

    • A good question… (part 1)

      It is essentially an imperfect compromise with the Press Gallery. Let me explain:

      I started holding PMO briefings for media as a part of an effort to be more transparent and equitable in how the PMO communicated with the Gallery. I believed, and still do, that it is better media relations to provide information to representatives of the entire gallery at the same time, rather than making 30 phone calls every time you have something you want to communicate. The calling approach is inherently preferential. You end up talking to the biggest and friendliest first, and usually don't get to the bottom of the list before being diverted by the next crisis-of-the-moment.

  11. A good question (part 2)

    These type of briefings are often pretty mundane. They go over important logistical details for upcoming PM travel, related media filing requirements, etc. It is also a chance to provide a bit of an overview of what the general direction the government is heading, and what we are hoping to accomplish. It also gave smaller outlets a chance to ask some questions directly to me that would likely have been delegated to one of my staff.

    Why not have these “on the record”? Well that relates to a long standing dispute between broadcast media and print media. For print this means quoting you by name, but for broadcast it means audio and video recording.

    It was my belief, and still is, that bringing the cameras into the room would defeat the purpose of the entire exercise. It would become like the White House Press Briefings – political theatre – and the necessary process discussions and longer-form background would go back to a series of one-off calls. There are many other forums for that sort of theatre, such as Question Period and press conferences.

  12. A good question (part 3)

    Where do I think this should go? I believe PMO briefings should be “on the record”, but keep the cameras out. I also think the transcripts should be posted to the web so journalists outside of Ottawa (not to mention the public) can have access to the information as well. There are some security complications when providing detailed itinerary information, but I am sure there are ways to delay posting some of those details.

    I made this point on FB earlier today and Neil Macdonald asked (paraphrasing here) — why not unilaterally impose the change? Well, I was never comfortable taking that path having watched the Press Gallery draw and quarter my predecessor for unilaterally making what I believe were some very sensible changes regarding media access. Consensus is usually a better approach with these matters.

  13. A good question (part 4)

    My attempt at a work-around was to offer most of what I said “on the record” after the briefing to anyone who bothered to ask. Many did. In fact, I probably set a new record for “on the record” statements by a Communication Director to the Prime Minister.

    I was never entirely comfortable with the practice, because it made the whole endeavour look secretive. In the end it was not a perfect system, but I think it was as Michael Ignatieff says: “the lesser evil”.

    Anyway, I hope that answers your question.

    • Please, trying to dodge cameras leads you to go anonymous?

      Wow, it's too bad you guys never heard of the web, or blogging software, such as you're using now. Why, then you could post detailed, technical briefing notes, they could ask questions, and you could actually find out the answers, media access would be preserved, there'd be no circus, and it would also be sourced and so not easily denie… oh.. sorry.. now I understand.

    • Too long. Put in the form of an attack ad the next time.

    • Thanks, Kory! I really think its great when the subject of the discussion responds, and I appreciate it.

      However, although I understand what you're saying, you'll forgive me if I don't take it completely at face value (can't trust politicians or media anymore). It's just that it seems to me that news broadcasts include news without film of the actual event all the time. Perhaps they have a reporter standing in front of the building where the robbery took place, or show the aftermath of the fire or whatever. So I'm not sure why broadcasters couldn't film you walking into the room, and report on what you said. Or just have the anchor read the story like they do so many others.

      Now, can we find a news anchor or someone to join this discussion?

  14. check

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