Should ABC News Reveal Anonymous Sources in Anthrax Probe? Bloggers Say Yes by Kim Pearson
News organizations are accustomed to fending off demands from judges and law enforcement agencies that they reveal their confidential sources. But what happens when this demand comes from news-savvy bloggers? Currently, ABC News is facing this quandary. This blog "meme" was sparked by two noted journalism professors: Jay Rosen and Dan Gillmor, in response to Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald's criticisms (Aug 1 and Aug 3) of ABC News' coverage of the 2001 anthrax scare.
In fall 2001, five people died and 17 were injured when someone sent a series of anthrax-laced letters to several members of Congress and prominent journalists. Last week, a leading suspect in the case (Army biodefense expert Bruce Ivins, 62) apparently committed suicide. According to news reports, Ivins' lawyer said Justice Department officials had informed them of their intention to indict Ivins for the anthrax murders.
Greenwald noted that at the time, ABC ran a series of stories citing "well-placed" anonymous sources implicating Iraq in the attack. According to Greenwald, these stories contributed to the misinformation that fueled public support for the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Greenwald argued that apparently ABC's "well-placed" sources lied, thus forfeiting their right to anonymity.
What's remarkable is that Rosen and Gilmor turned Greenwald's argument into a blog meme by asking other bloggers to pose these three "vital questions" to ABC: