Random Anonymous People With Unidentified Blogs Are Apparently Allowed To Be Sources For The New York Times

As you may have heard, a whole dumb political battle has broken out in America because First Lady Michelle Obama has been raising awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding and supporting the women who choose to nurse their children in that fashion. Because Michelle Obama happens to be on one side of a political divide, those on the other -- most notably Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) -- are now totally yelling about this. The resolution to this problem will probably not improve the economy in any way, or end a foreign war, but at least it's shiny and new.

So, today, the New York Times digs into this important battle, in an important piece by Kate Zernike titled, "A Breast-Feeding Plan Mixes Partisan Reactions." And I am terribly puzzled by this editorial decision:

"Holy mackerel, I might have to agree with Michele Bachmann on this one!" noted one person on a blog.

Wait. What?

A new mother who called herself a progressive Brooklynite -- and would not be identified for fear of scorn from her Democratic friends and other mothers -- said that while she hated "just about everything to do with Bachmann's politics, she is not completely wrong here."

Okay, so, taking up one side of the argument is a random person "on a blog," who doesn't want to be identified. If that's what you have to offer as far as attempting to demonstrate some crosscurrent of opinion on the matter, it's best not even brought up.

Also, on which blog can one find the line, "Holy mackerel, I might have to agree with Michele Bachmann on this one!" I'm asking because I cannot seem to locate it. This leads me to suspect that this line was not actually said "on a blog." Perhaps it was said by a blogger? If so, it would be useful to know the context of how this quote was obtained. Maybe this is someone Zernike bumped into at a coffee shop, or something? And this person has a blog, too, so that lends some awesome gravity to her commentary?

It's a mess! I can't judge for myself the quality of this random person's "progressive" political stances. I can't even prove this person exists.

Word of advice to any aspiring journalists: if you are reduced to citing "one person on a blog" as your source, it's probably time to find another occupation.

Buried in the middle of the piece is the part that should have been the real headline:

"Ms. Bachmann was wrong that Mrs. Obama wants the government to pay for breast pumps; the I.R.S. would simply allow people to deduct breast-feeding expenses if they itemize, or use the pre-tax dollars in their medical savings accounts to pay for pumps."

And neither of these things was what "one person on a blog" was referencing. Really, really shabby journalism.

You know what? The blogger that I found and can identify and can link to (at Eclectablog) makes a really excellent point! If you can concede the fact that Michele Bachmann was wrong, what value are you adding by finding some random person who won't identify themselves, claims to be a blogger but won't prove that claim, and is also wrong?

This piece is very typical of political writing: there's an argument, that argument is easily resolved by the simple assertion of objective fact, but let's focus on the argument instead of the resolution because all the arguing is so exciting! We're actually lucky that this piece actually gets around to saying what is wrong, after eleven paragraphs. For some reason, it was deemed necessary to first break the news that Kate Zernike knows random New Yorkers who are terribly uninformed about politics.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]