Here’s some inside baseball you probably did know about. According to no less an authoriity than the New York Times, that paper’s reporters and a whole lot of other national political reporters are bunting when it comes to quotes.
President Obama’s reelection team won’t talk to reporters unless they get “final editing power over any quotes that appear in print.”
It doesn’t seem to be strictly a Democrat game. Anyone wanting to interview one of Mitt Romney’s five sons have to agree to have quotes approved by the press office.
“Romney advisers almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything that they would like to include in an article,” the Times story by Jeremy W. Peters stated.
One Obama campaign manager deletes his cusss words. Why can’t he just learn to talk without swearing? Another is too verbose and edits his quotes to make him appear more concise.
As the NYT noted, “The snippets of interviews that ultimately do appear in print are usually so sanitized that they sound as if they were ripped straight from a press release.” And here’s the real knee slapper: “Many journalists spoke about the editing only if granted anonymity, an irony that did not escape them.”
Just for the record the Mountain Democrat does not let politicians edit quotes. Because we cover government meetings extensively government officials are used to being quoted in the paper and talk to us on the record whenever further information is needed. Unless they say somethng that doesn’t make sense a reporter isn’t going doublecheck a quote with a source.
National media, particulalry the Washington, D.C., crowd have historically used anonymous sources. It is something that probably started with President Franklin Roosevelt, who would hold informal press conferences in the Oval Office and often ask the reporters to attribute their information to a high White House source (not to be confused with a “high white horse souse”).
But the quote editing appears to be a consequence of hyper competitivesness by the national media. As Peters described it, “Now faced with the millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any quotes that appear in print.”
It just seems the national media is slowly degenerating. Whether it is attributing high snow levels on Alaska’s Mt. Mckinley to “climate instability” caused by so-called global warming or letting political staffers edit quotes, the New York Times and other nationally influential newspapers involved are losing their credibility.