Transparency

TRANSPARENCY….Avedon Carol asks:

How on earth did Howie Kurtz find out about the existence of two brand-new blogs that appear to have come into existence solely to attack Nancy Pelosi over how she flies home, and why did he represent them as “typical” of the blogosphere’s reaction to the fake flap — and not even mention the many, many established blogs that have been debunking this stupid story?

That’s a very good question. As the Roger Ailes post Avedon links to points out, Kurtz wasn’t likely to have found these blogs via a Google search, so somebody must have brought them to his attention. Who?

This prompts me to revive one of my pet suggestions for improving political reporting: transparency. For example, take today’s Daily Flap: Mike Allen’s story about how Barack Obama used to say that Barack was Arabic for “blessed” but now says it’s Swahili for “blessed by God.” Whether or not you think Allen is being beat up more than he deserves over this, he could have avoided the whole thing — and made his story better — by telling us why he included this in his piece. Is it really something he noticed on his own? Is it something making the rounds of reporters who are following Obama? Did he get it from another Democratic campaign? From a Republican source? He doesn’t have to name names, but especially in a story that’s ostensibly about how other people are going to attack Obama, it would be enlightening to know where the various attacks are originating.

Ditto for other stories. Why did you decide to quote Bill Donohue? Is it because he called you or because you called him? That story about John Edwards’ house. Where did the idea come from in the first place? Friend or foe? Etc.

For what it’s worth, this is something that blogs do a little better than traditional media. I don’t do it as consistently as I should, but I usually try to indicate where an idea came from. Often it’s just from reading something in the press that I link to, but sometimes it’s via reader email or via another blog, and in both cases I usually say so. If some organization complained about a post and I’m responding, I try to mention it (like here, for example). This gives you at least a clue about why I’m writing what I am and what axes to grind are behind it.

Anyway, I know this isn’t going to happen. No need to remind me of that in comments, thank you very much. But it should.