Yesterday evening, an unpleasant pungent odor settled in around the same time that a piece appeared in the HuffingtonPost alleging that the President had a brand new offer for the Republicans in the fiscal negotiations.
“The details of the offer were sent to The Huffington Post on condition of the source's anonymity. The White House has moved off of its initial and second revenue demands of $1.6 trillion and $1.4 trillion respectively. As of now, the president would be fine raising $1.2 trillion in revenue. He also is no longer insisting that taxes increase on families with income above $250,000. Instead, he is calling for a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts for incomes of less than $400,000.”Oh really? On condition of the source’s anonymity? That won't do. Back in the day, substantiation and attribution were how Journalism was done. Those are antiquated notions now. Consume at your own risk.
Later in the evening, the odor grew more rank when a second piece appeared in the HuffingtonPost. The President’s new offer included a detail that the first article somehow missed.
In the morning news outlets here and there were reporting the same thing, that the President offered to cut Social Security benefits by changing the methodology for calculating annual cost of living adjustments by using the Chained Consumer Price Index.
There was still no substantiation or attribution. Various news reports referred to the President's offer as fine print found in drafts circulating around Capitol Hill. Others seemed to be regurgitating what was printed elsewhere describing President Obama's offer, "as summarized in news reports Tuesday morning."
Later in the day the following statement by Press Secretary, Jay Carney, appeared on the White House website.
The President has put a balanced, reasonable proposal on the table that achieves significant deficit reduction and reflects real compromise by meeting the Republicans halfway on revenue and more than halfway on spending from where each side started. That is the essence of compromise. The parameters of a deal are clear, and the President is willing to continue to work with Republicans to reach a bipartisan solution that averts the fiscal cliff, protects the middle class, helps the economy, and puts our nation on a fiscally sustainable path. But he is not willing to accept a deal that doesn’t ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors. The Speaker’s “Plan B” approach doesn’t meet this test because it can’t pass the Senate and therefore will not protect middle class families, and does little to address our fiscal challenges with zero spending cuts. The President is hopeful that both sides can work out remaining differences and reach a solution so we don’t miss the opportunity in front of us today.I make it a practice to never accept news reports that are unsubstantiated and unattributed as the final word on anything. I don't care if the source is the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post. I might make an exception for Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! Otherwise, forget it. Give me names, dates, places, something that can be checked. That means nothing can be believed unless it comes from the source.
Once bogus news is squeezed out of the tube and the public reacts, it almost doesn't matter what the subject says several hours or half a day later. Even if he was never quoted in the first place, he's the one who appears to have changed his story, because the public just isn't that fastidious about what it consumes.