We are told by some partisans that news sources are to be distrusted, reporters are not integral to democracy, and that there are even ‘alternative facts’.
Late Monday evening, all those lines fell faster than Russians on the Ukraine battlefield.
It was reported by Politico the Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.
The ramifications of this story are enormous. Not only for health care rights for women, but also for privacy being understood, for decades, as an unenumerated right. Privacy has been a foundation for several large court decisions from the right to use contraception, to engage in private consensual sexual activity, and to marry someone of the same sex.
Make no mistake about how the legal weight of this abortion ruling could move the court going forward.
While all these issues and many more will be debated at length starting with Tuesday morning coffee in homes around the nation, I wish to give credit to the journalism profession, and specifically two reporters.
Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward.
We all should be proud of how they did their job with this story.
It needs to be noted that these journalists not only reported the story but also gave the full rounded coverage by writing that “it’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft” since February. They were not aiming for going beyond the fact the draft is a product from February.
They also fully grasped the gravity of the story surely being one of the newsroom’s biggest scoops and surely the biggest headline of their lives. They wrote that “No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending.”
The news about the court draft was able to be reported by the reporters due to the role of an anonymous source. It is these sources who are vital to a fuller understanding of what our government does and journalists are doing their job by then reporting on the information once it is firmly understood to have validity.
I understand that most people are not sitting around their living rooms contemplating anonymous sources. I can imagine how conservative media will be apoplectic today and feverishly disdainful of this news story, and how it was obtained.
To those who do not understand the role of anonymous sources, I have one name to add to this post.
It is absolutely true to say that had Felt not been an anonymous source there very well would not have been a Watergate story as we have come to know. It was “Deep Throat’ who alerted Bob Woodward in those parking garage conversations that presidential abuse was running rampant in the Nixon White House.
The pursuit of news, facts…the truth… is what reporters do. And anonymous sources are very much a way to allow the public to know what their government is doing.
And so it goes.