Accuracy in Media

It appears that the mainstream media could not get enough from the anonymous author of an upcoming book that is highly critical of the Trump presidency. The author, who will remain anonymous, penned the book, “A Warning,” and excerpts from the book made the news cycle again even though the book was officially announced several weeks ago.

The anonymous author also wrote the New York Times opinion editorial that had the headline, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.” In response to the editorial, President Donald Trump criticized the New York Times decision to publish a “gutless editorial” and allegedly tried to identify the author of the editorial, without success.

NBC News admitted that it does not know the identity of the writer or whether the author’s claims are valid because the information is coming from an anonymous source. The source had sent an excerpt from the book to the Washington Post, which newspaper would not identify their source.

CNN echoed similar sentiments and said that the author is the same person who penned the New York Times opinion editorial, but did not mention if CNN knew the author’s identity. CNN confirmed that the author’s intent behind the book is “to convince the nation not to reelect Trump in 2020,” which was included on the book’s jacket cover.

Despite the lack of evidence or proof that the book’s claims were true, the mainstream media ran with the book’s excerpts as if the excerpts were factual. Although CNN and NBC News admitted that they could not verify the claims, they treated the excerpts as newsworthy and not sensationalism. Usually, journalists would verify claims such as these, especially as it deals with a sitting president during a reelection campaign, but it appears the mainstream media cannot investigate the claims due to the author’s anonymity.

Anonymous sources were important to journalism, which allowed for the dissemination of information to the public while protecting the source’s identity. Knowing a source’s name, but not disclosing it to the public, allowed the media to verify the source’s claim before publishing the claim. But with this anonymous source, who is a mystery to some mainstream media outlets, few of the claims could be verified. Yet the media saw fit to publish the book’s excerpts and claims as factual and wrongly influenced the public to believe the claims were true.

The mainstream media should do a better job with their coverage about the anonymous writer’s book and tell the public that this is unusual journalism and that not much of the claims were verifiable.

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