A New Level of Anonymice

As Judy “Ms. Run Amok” Miller appears to be inventing new rules of sourcing, Al Kamen today offers some guidance on what to be looking for when reading stories:

Eyebrows were raised when New York Times reporter Judith Miller disclosed in an article Sunday that she had graciously acceded to a request by Vice President Cheney ‘s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., that, if writing about ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson and using him as a source, she identify Libby only as a “former Hill staffer.” Miller said she “agreed to the new ground rules because I knew that Mr. Libby had once worked on Capitol Hill.” In this town, that’s pretty close to saying your source was “some guy.”

Predictably, other senior officials, citing the article, have begun demanding similar treatment from reporters. So Loop Fans should be alert if they read that a “former sports business executive” or “cheerleader” held forth about the importance of the recent Iraqi elections. It’s probably President Bush.

“A former oil services executive” or “Ivy League dropout” most likely is code for Cheney. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card might be that “former fast food restaurant executive” given for his management of a McDonald’s franchise when he was in college.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could speak as a “winter sports enthusiast” for her ice skating talents or, for even deeper background, just “a football fan.” Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld might be that “Midwest Republican” for his time in Congress, or he too could be a “former Hill staffer,” having worked as an administrative assistant to two former representatives, David S. Dennison (R-Ohio) in 1958 and Robert P. Griffin (R-Mich.) in 1959.

And then there’s Karl Rove, a former public relations executive.

What about how to identify Judy Miller when she begins to leak details about her case in an attempt to salvage her reputation: “Former inmate”? “Formerly respected journalist”? “One-time best-selling author”? “Iraqi Nation Congress pawn”? “former hiking partner of Arianna Huffington?