Andrew McCarthy posted a story today on National Review Online about the Herman Cain scandal that seems to have taken over the media this week. Mr. McCarthy points out that Politico ran with this story without substantial evidence that the story was true or newsworthy. Politico has compounded that error by keeping quiet about the source of their story.
Mr. McCarthy points out:
But we’ve learned the most about Politico. Look, for example, at this: Politico this morning had a post about how, after Cain blamed Perry for being the source of the sexual-harassment story, Perry promptly turned around and floated Romney as the likely source. Yes, congratulations GOP on the circular firing squad — but that’s not the point. The point is: Politico knows who the source is.
Meanwhile, Politico has twisted the story to be about who leaked the story rather than whether or not the allegations have any foundation. Since Politico knows who leaked the story, that is rather questionable journalism.
Mr. McCarthy concludes:
When I was a prosecutor, it was considered serious ethical misconduct to suggest to a jury something the prosecutor knew to be factually untrue. If the defense called Witness A, and I was aware of the fact that Person B had robbed a bank, it would be a weighty impropriety for me to impeach A’s credibility by suggesting in my questions that A had robbed the bank. If the judge asked me a question, my choices were to give a truthful answer or to refuse to answer and explain why the law supported my refusal — making a representation that was false or misleading was not an option. And if I later learned that I’d been mistaken in something I’d represented, my obligation was to go back and correct the record as soon as possible. All this because a trial is supposed to be a search for the truth, and I would be perverting the process if I suggested that the factfinder should consider something I knew to be inaccurate or false.
I guess similar rules don’t apply in today’s journalism.
Unfortunately, he is correct.