Have you ever watched a gangster film? What about a political thriller? Within each film comes a potential trial of some form or another. What many criminal investigations need to make a case is the various sources that provide information.
President Trump went on yet another Twitter rant about how sources that are leaking information to reporters that may expose criminal activity should be exposed.
It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names.... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
....it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
The terrifying thing about this situation is that not only does the leader of the free world want sources to be exposed to danger, but exposed to danger because he may or may not want to drag them for exposing his possible criminal activity.
That’s not how things work. If I was accused of a crime, and a witness watched me commit said crime, would I be privileged in having the source’s name in order to investigate them? No.
Journalists go to jail for not revealing their sources. Why? Because it’s their job to protect their source no matter what. A journalist must put everything on the line to protect them, because if that source is found out before a trial, it could completely upend an investigation.
The one thing that a journalist must do is verify a source. This means that they must, to the best of their ability, find out that the source information is legit. This isn’t just for journalists, but also for law enforcement.
Think about it. For an investigation, the police may throw up a hotline for information on a crime. They’ll sift through all of the tips to find one that isn’t complete crap. Once interviewed and verified for valid information, that source will probably be under protection because any hurt that comes to them could kill the case. I mean, how many times have you watched something where an informant or witness was killed for coming forward after their identity is released? A lot.
Anonymous and off-the-record sources can be difficult. Multiple anonymous or unnamed sources were proven to be inaccurate during the OJ Simpson trial. If I learned anything when studying journalism, it’s that the unnamed, anonymous, or off-the-record sources need to be scrutinized more or even ignored.
The problem we have in this political climate is that every story that comes out with sources that are independently verified are thrown under the bus with a tweet of “#fakenews.” It doesn’t matter who says what about something that is under investigation; if it’s negative about Trump, it’s labeled as such.
Even stories that are almost fairly clear to understand, the strange harassment of facts and stuff literally caught on tape are turned into conspiracy theories where no such evidence of that exists. Take for example the newly elected Montana Congressman Gianforte:
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses — Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
He body slammed and attacked a reporter on tape and in front of Fox News reporters. Fox reporters? Huh. They said it was much worse than what you heard:
At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”
Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left. (Via Fox News)
This, again, comes from Fox News. Fox News is part of the “Real News” since Trump manages to nearly quote verbatim everything positive about him said on the network.
Does anyone notice how the Montana Congressional race was such a big deal to Dems & Fake News until the Republican won? V was poorly covered — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
Trump’s baffling lack of knowledge that Gianforte’s race in Montana before the assault is telling. His idiotic tweet claiming more fake news is responsible for bad reporting on the assault shows that he’s not really sure about much, including how sourcing or reporting on stories works. Since the Fox News reporters were the ones who came forward with a more damning accusation against Gianforte, does that mean Fox is fake news?
The problem here isn’t that there’s a problem with how you verify a source, no, the problem is that the leader of the free world can say any story is fake no matter how much evidence is against him, only because he doesn’t know the source, so he can intimidate them. A doctor could say I weigh 500 pounds. I could say what he said is BS and get on a gym machine with a weight limit of 300 pounds. I can say what the doctor said was false, but I’m the one standing on a broken machine because of my weight. You can’t keep claiming something is fake when the evidence is slowly bubbling up to your neck.