When a White House official conceded in a pre-speech background briefing (the truth) that the personal accounts plan would not save the system the President described as being in peril, that got the day off to a fine straight-talk start.
Is this the same authorized “background briefer” that the Times quoted yesterday? In that case it was Dan Bartlett, the former communications director and counselor to the president, whose extensive White House bio explains that he’s “responsible for all aspects of President Bush’s strategic communications planning and the formulation of policy and implementation of the President’s agenda. He also oversees the White House Press Office and the Offices of Media Affairs, Communications, Speechwriting, and Global Communications.”
Really, what’s the point of these briefings where a well-known “anonymous” source gets up in front of a room full of journalists? It’s obviously authorized by the White House and publicized by the White House–Bartlett’s job is to spin and do “communications” for the administration. Why do journalists let the White House use them in this way and why don’t they stand up for their readers? Are the briefings really that valuable that they’re worth breaking readers’ trust?
Who was the background briefer mentioned in The Note? Let’s keep outing these guys–drop us a tip or send an email. Are there any other authorized “background briefings” in the news today or coming up?
UPDATE: It took a few days, but Dan Froomkin found our answer.