Politico Uses Anonymous Sources to Attack Hersh…for Using Anonymous Sources

Seymour Hersh reports in the New Yorker (6/6/11–subscription required) that there is s virtually no evidence Iran has a nuclear weapons program, despite huge efforts on the part of the U.S. to prove otherwise. Though Hersh’s findings do not contradict the past two National Intelligence Estimates, they do fly in the face of long-held official and corporate media views.

Corporate media routinely treat the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program as a matter of fact. New York Times reporter Michael Gordon has done it at least twice (2/24/03, 10/19/04), in one case suggesting that a U.S.-friendly regime in Iraq might pressure “Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program.” With little variation in wording Gordon’s Times colleagues Patrick Tyler (6/27/05) and Scott Shane (3/26/05) have done the same. So has the Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung (9/28/09), and Post editors and editorials routinely treat Iran’s nuke program as a proven fact (e.g., 9/11/10, 6/17/09).

So it’s not a big surprise that Hersh is coming under fire in in a corporate media which has largely internalized successive White House claims on Iran.

In a Politico report flagged by Glenn Greenwald , White House sources are quoted disparaging Hersh’s New Yorker piece in a report the concludes by reminding readers that Hersh has been criticized in the past for relying too much on anonymous sources. Just a little problem with that angle though, as Greenwald points out:

That’s the criticism that ends an article that relies exclusively on anonymous government sources, appearing in a D.C. gossip rag notorious for granting anonymity to any powerful figure who requests it for any or no reason. The difference, of course, is that the Pulitzer Prize-winning, five-time-Polk-Award-recipient investigative journalist who uncovered the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib scandal grants anonymity to those who are challenging the official claims of those in power (that’s called “journalism”), while Politico uses it (as it did here) to serve those in power and shield them from all accountability as they spew their propaganda (which is called being a “lowly, rank Royal Court propagandist”).

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.