Sunday, September 7, 2008

Who tipped Sully?

Dean Barnett won't even name (much less link) Andrew Sullivan, but when discussing Sully's posting of a link to a court motion filed by Scott Richter (Todd Palin's former business partner), Barnett does raise an intriguing question:
The "news" about the motion to seal the divorce papers appeared in the virtual pages of the Atlantic first, not the National Enquirer or the Daily Kos as one might expect. Obviously, Atlantic field reporters haven't trekked up to Alaska to monitor every random court filing. Therefore, someone had to tip off the Atlantic's chief rumor spreader about the motion to seal the divorce papers. It would be interesting to know at whose bidding the Atlantic staffer in question is spreading unfounded smears.
Allah has suggested that Sully is now the main agent moving Palin smears into the media mainstream. What Dean seems to be insinuating is that Sully is doing this with the assistance of unnamed operatives of the Obama campaign and/or the Democratic Party. A more interesting question, perhaps, is whether Sullivan knows that his tips are coming from such sources and, if so, whether this makes any difference.

Look, if Karl Rove e-mailed me an old photo of Obama in his cokehead days, partying down with some half-naked hotties, I wouldn't be obligated to reveal where I got the photo. If I published such a photo and it turned out to be a forgery, however, I can no longer claim that "journalism ethics" requires me to protect my source.

Now here you have an instance in which Sullivan posted the link to Richter's motion requesting that the divorce records be sealed. Did Sully explicitly suggest that this was because the records contained evidence of the Enquirer-rumored scandal involving Sarah Palin? Not that I can see.

On the other hand, Atlantic editor James Fallow is one of those highfalutin journalism snobs that get on my nerves, and unless he wishes his upscale publication to acquire the reputation of a supermarket tabloid, perhaps Fallows ought to ask Sully to be a bit more careful about gossip-mongering and conspiratorial theorizing.

Excuse me if I appear to be defending the indefensible, but having been on the receiving end of the witchhunt treatment from the Left, I don't want to endorse witchhunting by the Right. If Sully is doing wrong, he ought to mend his ways. There are, however, ways to correct an errant jourrnalist short of hounding him into the unemployment line.

Also, politics ain't beanbag. Team Maverick's likely to be putting some pretty heavy stuff on Obama in the next few weeks, and then the Democrats will be crying foul. So just be ready, at that point, to ask them where their scruples about "smears" were when their favorite bloggers were smearing Palin.

UPDATE: Ace points out that, in "retracting" this "scoop," Sully managed a clever feat:
[Sullivan] keeps his main page entirely clean of the taint of retraction. . . . In fact, as you can see, on the main page, not only does he not clearly retract the story, but the only information posted there is a reassertion of the original smear.
His "retraction" -- at least on the main page -- actually just defames Sarah Palin anew.
Yeah. I hadn't seen that. So I now look like an idiot for even attempting to defend Sully.

Say your prayers, Andrew. They may look all cuddly and everything, but there is nothing more ferocious than an enraged Ewok.

1 comment:

  1. And I caught Kos astroturfing for the Obama campaign:

    At least that's what it looks like to me. I'm going by their standard of proof and assuming it's true until they debunk it to my satisfaction.