I am so glad to see that someone finally wrote about this! It has been frustrating to see so many people making a ridiculous big deal about a journalistic practice that is both fairly common and very effective as a method for getting "the goods" to write great pieces of journalism that we're all grateful for revealing to us the kinds of things that we all want to know about. Those and other journalists don't at all deserve to be lambasted for the kind of behavior revealed by some of the Podesta emails; they're doing their job, and they're doing it well, and at the end of the day, you
get to benefit. WikiLeaks and the Oily Washington Press
, by Jack Shafer, senior media writer of Politico
Some noteworthy excerpts – of which the very last line is my favorite:
The toadying behaviors are driven by the power relationship between the news media and an administration or campaign. I would bet that many establishment reporters tiptoed around the Romney people as well, and asked them pretty-please for interviews. It’s a certainty that many of them bowed to George W. Bush when he was in the White House. Not saying it’s right. Just saying it is. […]
The primary reason Washington operators can dictate the terms of engagement with Washington journalists is that the true insiders are few and the journalists are many. […] [L]ong before the invention of email, journalists routinely donned false faces to charm their sources. They pretended to be sympathetic, they feigned interest in their sources and their families, they fawned, they socialized with them, fed their egos and remembered their birthdays. If you were a Washington journalist, you would, too. […]
Lesson learned, maybe Washington journalists will stop over-relying on email and return to the time-honored audio burn-bag that is the telephone to court and seduce and exploit their sources. Meanwhile, over drinks, they will recover soon enough and laugh at your petty ethical concerns.
I would like to draw your attention to a particular phrase the importance of which could very easily be missed. In the second half of the first sentence of the middle excerpt: the true insiders
. There is an important reason he uses the word 'true' there.