The ultimate anonymous source.

Reporters’ classic anonymous source has been identified simply as a source. Often, he or she is a well-informed source. Or a source close to…whoever the story is about. We have a section in our Journalese Dictionary devoted to “Source Sorcery.” The sources range from Analyst to Watcher. But there’s a popular new source: “people with knowledge of the matter.”

For example: “people with knowledge of the matter” are given n anonymousa source four times in a New York Times story about the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation of Trump’s taxes. (The story was published in the Boston Globe, Feb 23, 2021.) Now, it’s reassuring to know that Times’s reporters and editors claim to use knowledgeable people for their information. But what about any of the other anonymous sources the Times uses? Since they are not identified as knowledgeable, are they believeable? Are they ignorant of the matter? Are they the usual suspects, the BS artists at the neighborhood bar?

But even with with so many people with so much knowledge, the Times story ends with this:

“It remains unclear whether the prosecutors will ultimately file charges against Trump, the company, or any of its executives, imncluding Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.” Unclear is journalese for “The reporter has no idea whatsoever what’s happening or what’s going to happen.”

File under: All the speculation in the guise of news.

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