White House press secretary Josh Earnest angered a lot of journalists at today’s press briefing over his comments regarding the anonymous sources of a story he was questioned on. Via The Hill:
Complaints from White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday about anonymous news sources prompted a testy exchange with reporters who noted that administration officials regularly demand anonymity.
Earnest was asked about a Washington Post report charging that the administration ignored predictions last year from the Department of Homeland Security about the surge of unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the border in recent months.
ut the spokesman looked to challenge the report by arguing it was “based entirely on anonymous sources.” Earnest also offered a broader critique on the use of anonymous sourcing in a bid to challenge the credibility of the story.
“In the course of reporting, I think it’s important, based on my own personal view, for those kinds of quotes and those kinds of stories to be given greater weight than just anonymous sources,” Earnest said. “So, what that means is, if you have anonymous sources at the White House who are telling you something, and you’re gonna say to them — that anonymous source — ‘Look, I’m willing to give your side of the story a little less weight right now, because you’re telling me this anonymously.’ “
That prompted complaints from reporters who noted that the White House routinely insists on anonymity when unveiling new efforts.
“Would you guys commit then, when you have situations like today’s call, which is people specifically picked by the White House to roll out a policy of the White House, would you commit to have those people speak on the record?” asked Associated Press White House correspondent Julie Pace. “Because there doesn’t seem to be a reason to put them on background.”
“What I will commit to is a case-by-case evaluation of the background or the ground rules of each of these kinds of calls and a commitment to an open dialogue with you about the ground rules that will serve your interests and the White House interests the best,” Earnest said.
Make sure to click on the link above from The Hill to read how some Washington Post journos responded on Twitter to a particularly ridiculous criticism Earnest leveled at them about not sending anyone to the briefing to “defend themselves” on their border story published today. It goes without saying that the write-up wasn’t exactly flattering to the administration, and for that – of course – journalists must be punished. It’s the Chicago-on-the-Potomac way.
As always with this White House, it’s do as I say – not as I do. “Transparency” you can believe in, and all that …