Tom Harper is the Home Affairs Correspondent of The Sunday Times, a newspaper that recently ran a scary story about Edward Snowden, spies and betrayal. It was called: ‘British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese’ in fact. You can read it here if you don’t mind paywalls. Well, it was based on a single source, and Tom went on CNN to defend that. Watch what happened…
One of the laugh out loud moments for me is when CNN‘s George Howell asks with genuine bewilderment of one professional to another one who has essentially just crapped all over one of two of the basic tenets of the trade*, ‘So, essentially you’re reporting what the government is saying but as far as the evidence to, you know, substantiate it you’re not able to comment or explain that at this point, right?”
Tom’s response is an object lesson in how not to do political journalism (any journalism in fact):
No. We picked up the story a while back from an, um, extremely well placed source in the (UK government’s) Home Office, um, and then, um, carried on trying to substantiate, er, what was going on through various sources in various agencies, er, throughout Britain, um, and then finally presented the story to the (same) government (that the story came from in the first place) and they, um, effectively confirmed, er, what you read in today’s Sunday Times.
Video via Techno Guido
* (1) Only using a single source. (2) Using that same source to authenticate the story.
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