Bad Sourcing, Phony Beards

Two exchanges from today’s Howard Kurtz media chat, one serious, one not:

Question: “In your column today you quoted Spencer Hsu as saying ‘We don’t blow sources, period, especially if we don’t have reason to believe the source in this case actually lied deliberately’ in regards to the correction that the Post was forced to make only hours after an article was published on Sept. 4 regarding when exactly Gov. Blanco declared a state of emergency–The article claimed she had not declared one the day before the storm when in fact she had done so several days before the storm struck.

“My question is how can Hsu stand by that statement given the White House’s recent lack of credibility in such matters (read Plamegate) and the fact that information regarding when Blanco made the declaration was easy to research? And if the source was that ill-informed that many days after the disaster isn’t that a story unto itself?”

Howard Kurtz: “Whatever other credibility problems the administration might have, that doesn’t change the situation when a reporter tells an official he will accept information on a background basis. If the official is not intentionally lying, the journalist would be betraying his promise by identifying the source after the fact. I think there were two problems here. One, the information obviously should have been double-checked. But even if what the administration official was saying had been accurate, I don’t think The Post should have published it on a not-for-attribution basis. Why in the world can’t the official be on the record talking about what the governor of Louisiana did or did not request? That kind of free pass should not have been given.”


Question: “What is with the phony beard growth on these male reporters down there. Come on, if there is electricity to power the camera and satellite uplink they cannot plug in an electric razor? Come on.”

Howard Kurtz: “Of all the many and myriad aspects of the crisis coverage that I have tried to scrutinize, that is an angle that had not occurred to me.”