Media Blog

A Leaker’s Denial

The Washington Post article Nate referenced below — in which Mary McCarthy’s lawyer says she denies being a “key source” for Dana Priest’s CIA prisons story — couldn’t be more sympathetic to McCarthy, but it should nevertheless give us pause. A lot of bloggers, myself included, jumped to the conclusion that McCarthy was Priest’s source on the CIA prisons story because the CIA fired her for leaking classified information to journalists, including Priest. Without knowing what specific information McCarthy leaked to Priest, we should have been more careful.
I completely agree with Andrew McCarthy’s complaint that in this case, bloggers were misled by media reports — especially those in the Washington Post, which is in a position to report the facts but has chosen instead to build a story around McCarthy’s lawyer’s denial. But if we’re going to criticize mainstream news outlets for rushing to judgment — as they did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — we should hold ourselves to the same standard.
As for the powers that be at the Washington Post, they now find themselves in the unenviable position of the NYT during the controversy over Judith Miller. That is to say, on the most pressing question of the day’s top story — i.e. whether McCarthy’s denial is true or false — they have the answer but cannot or will not report it.
UPDATE: Rick Moran has dug up some interesting information about McCarthy’s lawyer, whose statement forms the basis for the Post’s article.
UPDATE II: Bob Somerby catches the Post in a Howler:

We had to chuckle as Jeffrey Smith and Dafna Linzer explained that in today

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