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Media Transcript Reform!

Greg’s post about the reporter using “law-abiding illegal” in the Chertoff transcript reminds me of one of the antiquated customs of D.C. media life: why are all the reporter’s names left off official transcripts? To disguise the identity of the bonehead questioner? I found the same thing yesterday when I noticed that President Bush had dressed down British reporters for implying Tony Blair was no longer effective. Even when Adam Boulton of Sky News stated his name at the start of his question, the official transcript excised it. (I first thought he said his name was “Boswell,” not “Boulton” beneath the accent, which made it hard to Google.)  

White House spokesmen have made it easier to figure out by using first names a lot in replies, even when it wasn’t necessary (“No, Helen, the President doesn’t bomb Arabs for giggles.”) But Washington press offices ought to let the public know who these questioners are, so we may evaluate them in some small fraction of the way that they evaluate our public officials. It’s awfully hard for journalists to kvetch that “senior Washington officials” won’t speak on the record in briefings, but they won’t allow their names to be placed on the official transcripts.

Tim GrahamTim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...

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