Deputy AG Rosenstein warns – ahem – against relying on anonymously sourced reporting

Deputy AG Rosenstein warns – ahem – against relying on anonymously sourced reporting
Rod Rosenstein (Image: Wikipedia)

That’s pretty pointed.  The obvious target of Rosenstein’s concern would be the Washington Post article this week citing “five” unnamed officials to the effect that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump for obstruction.

Fox News sees it that way too:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Thursday evening that Americans should “exercise caution” before believing anonymously sourced reports, an apparent reference to ongoing leaks surrounding the investigation into alleged connections between Russian officials and President Trump’s campaign.

“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,'” Rosenstein said in a statement, “particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated.”

Rosenstein’s allusion to “not identifying the country” is of more than passing interest, of course.  Just who besides American officials would be feeding WaPo (or another U.S. news outlet) tales about Mueller’s investigation?

Fortunately, although it may matter in other contexts, that doesn’t matter in this one.  Got you covered, Mr. Rosenstein.  I don’t believe anything about the Trump administration from an unnamed WaPo “source” anymore.  I haven’t for months.  (I wrote about that back in May, when many on the right went into a collective swoon over Trump firing James Comey — as if the media-painted picture of “appearances” about that made any difference in terms of truth, or right, or wrong.  I think the only people it made a difference to were the ones sitting in newsrooms in Washington, D.C. and New York.)

In fact, if WaPo reports something on any topic that seems to defame or discredit the Trump administration, I assume it’s at least deceitfully slanted, and very likely false.

There was a time when I might have worried about dismissing such claptrap preemptively.  But in sober truth, that worry isn’t justified.  Too much of the paper’s anonymously sourced tale-spinning is proven false within days, if not hours.  If WaPo should happen to be reporting an honest nugget, someone else will get eventually hold of it.  I’d take BuzzFeed or even Infowars more seriously, at this point.

There’s an implication from this that most people haven’t thought through, I think.  It’s that there is no recovery from this loss of essential confidence in the mainstream media.  We cannot go back.  Their brand is already in decisive brain-death. Something else will come out of all this at the other end — some set of media outlets brokering information for the public audience — but it won’t be them.  They’re done.

That, moreover, has a larger implication that Rod Rosenstein probably didn’t think too hard about, before he issued his warning about anonymously sourced “news.”

Part and parcel of the loss of confidence in the MSM is the commensurate loss of public confidence in government that bases its actions on the appearances carefully fostered by the MSM.

And there is a special counsel for the fictional “Trump-Russia” theme-thing only because of those appearances.

That is a corrupt, unjust, and lawless way to use government power.  The danger of that for what comes next in America is very real, and it should keep Rosenstein up at night.  The people aren’t stupid.  Millions of them already understand that there was never anything to justify a special counsel for the “Trump-Russia” theme-thing, and that any supposed “process crimes” that can be manufactured from the “investigation” will be a colossal injustice.

Are the people bound by any obligation to sit still for that?  If the United States Department of Justice is not bound by an obligation to observe the rule of law — which it did not, in appointing a special counsel — how are the people under any such obligation?

It might not be so wise for Rosenstein to cast doubt on the MSM and their anonymous sources.  He appointed Mueller, based on nothing but a campaign of innuendo that has never panned out in anything real — in spite of an investigation that has now officially been underway for a year — along with a political feeling whipped up by the MSM and its anonymous sources.

Those anonymous sources are all Rosenstein’s got, when his fingerprints end up all over an outcome potentially so unjust that the people cannot simply sit passive and watch it perpetrated against them.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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