Would you do everything you could to determine whether you could trust a source who lied to you before relying on him to treat a U.S. citizen guilty of treason?
By Jason Beale
Here’s a hypothetical question for journalists: Let’s say you managed to convince the translator in the room during the President Trump-Vladimir Putin meeting to speak to you, and you only, on the condition of anonymity, and you’re in the midst of writing an explosive, exclusive story for your publication. As you’re writing, you look up to see BREAKING NEWS on CNN, and listen as Wolf Blitzer reports the story you’re writing, with the exact fly-on-the-wall detail you received from your “exclusive” source.
So what’s your first move? Would you assume CNN must’ve convinced the Russian translator to talk to them and move on with your story without taking any action, or would you call your source to figure out where that CNN information came from? If your source denied talking to CNN, would you believe him and move on, or would you do whatever you could to determine whether you can trust this source on such an important matter? You’d want to know the answer to that question before proceeding, would you not?
A hypothetical question for editors: Let’s say you’re editing an article on a Pentagon policy change and notice a number of paragraphs that you think you may have read before in another publication. You Google the lines and find that your reporter appears to have lifted entire paragraphs of copy from another article.
So what’s your first move?