When a reporter quotes someone anonymously, or uses the source for information, it would be obvious to most everyone that the source knows what he or she is talking about. After all, a reporter wouldn’t base a story on someone who is dumb as a sack of rocks and had absolutely no idea of what the hell is going on.
But to make absolutely sure that the source is trustworthy, honest, insightful, and knows his or her stuff, the New York Times insists that reporters write: “….according to a person with knowledge of the subject.” Just in case you thought the reporter is quoting a bag or rocks.
A great illustration of this was a Dec. 15, 2021, story about Manhattan prosecutors lookng into Trump’s assets to see if the guy committeed fraud. The story begins: “NEW YORK — As prosecutors in New York weigh whether to charge Donald Trump with fraud, they have zeroed in on financial documents that he used to obtain loans and boast about his wealth, according to people with knowledge of the matter.” Those same “people with knowledge” are quoted four times in the story, and, of course, are not identified. Man, you gotta believe those anonymous wise guys are in the know. New York Times reporters don’t use BS artists.
As is usual for the New York Times political stories, this one, with a three-reporter by-line, is mainly speculation, with “examined the possibility,” “could implicate,” “could help his defense,” “underscore the challenge,” “They could sieze on a pattern,” “If prosecutors,” “Trump’s lawyers would most likely argue,” “lawyers might argue.” Of course, if none of this happens, you won’t find it reported in the New York Times.
File under: All the speculation in the guise of news.