May 18, 2013
Shame on the News: Pols Get to Edit Their Quotations
Posted on Jul 16, 2012
The New York Times reports that it is now commonplace for everyone from campaign advisers to the Treasury Department to edit and approve quotes before journalists allow themselves to print them. Keith Olbermann calls it “appalling,” and that’s being nice.
Journalists are supposed to fight for the truth on behalf of their readers, not sniff around for table scraps from politicians.
According to the Times, “From Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department, interviews granted only with quote approval have become the default position. Those officials who dare to speak out of school, but fearful of making the slightest off-message remark, shroud even the most innocuous and anodyne quotations in anonymity by insisting they be referred to as a ‘top Democrat’ or a ‘Republican strategist.’ ”
Here are some examples of editing, which may sound minor but in effect puts the self-described journalist at the service of the powerful person he or she is claiming to report on:
This is just more shameful confirmation of what we already know: Don’t trust the establishment Washington press. How tough are you going to be on someone whose permission you need to work?
—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer
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