Here’s the overview: I don’t understand this part of the story at all. I don’t understand how Jeffrey Goldberg can get away with atrocious journalistic conduct like this, even as he fails to hide it. He merely assumes his offense to fairness and his profession will be ignored, forgiven, or even cheered.
How stupid and ethically-crippled do journalists like Jeffrey Goldberg, the Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic Monthly think the public is? Are they right? What aren’t all legitimate journalists furious about this? Are there any legitimate journalists?
In 2004, then CBS News star Dan Rather used a forged document to “prove” that President George W. Bush had ducked accountability for going AWOL with the National Guard. Rather’s justification was a spectacularly unethical one that lost him his job and reduced him to the wandering, discredited partisan hack pundit he is today, fit only for MSNBC. Rather claimed that using the fake document was justified because what it proved was “true,” and the public had a right to know. (Rather and his producer were deliberately attempting to defeat Bush in his re-election bid, just as The Atlantic has been working to ruin Trump for fours years. I read Jeffrey Goldberg’s rationalizations for for his “Trump said mean things about American soldiers two years ago” smear as arising out of the same unethical dung heap as Rather’s debacle.
He deserves the same fate as Rather, too.
Goldberg conceded on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” that anonymous sourcing is “not good enough” to base a damning story like his on. Yes, just like a forged document is not good enough to base an explosive accusation on. In some ways, a forged document is better—you can check the veracity of a document. Anonymous sources might be biased, partisan agents, proven liars, or not in a position to see and hear what they claim. How can their veracity be checked? They can’t be.
And then, having admitted that his sources were not ethically sufficient, and saying that “I share that view that it’s not good enough,” Goldberg went on to defend running the story! “But, you know, like other reporters,” he said, “I’m always balancing out the moral ambiguities and complications of anonymous sourcing with a public’s right to know.”
Huh? Right to know what? Rumors? Slander? Hearsay? The reason such evidence “isn’t good enough’ is that it is not sufficient to demonstrate a fact. Journalists are ethically bound to report only that which can be substantiated, and anonymous sources cannot do that. There is no “moral ambiguity.” “Not good enough” is “Not good enough.”
Pretty simple, actually.
Then Goldberg went on to explain, as he had before, why his sources remain anonymous: they are “afraid” of a “twitter mob.” But it doesn’t matter why they are anonymous (or why they say they want to be anonymous). All that matters is that the sources are anonymous, and thus the story is not verifiable, should not have been reported, and was irresponsible and mischievous to report.
“I trust these sources,” Goldberg said on MSNBC. “These are people in the various rooms. And, but yeah, obviously it would be better if people would say — attach their names to what they know.”
Yes, and Goldberg might trust any sources who attribute vile words or deeds to President Trump, whom his magazine has sought to vilify for four years.
Goldberg is a disgrace, as untrustworthy as Rather, and unworthy to report for a magazine, much less lead one. Yet his incompetent colleagues have allowed him to spin and rationalize, enabling his intentional deception.