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Woodward on Snowden: “Let’s make you a protected source.”

by on April 22, 2014

Bob Woodward said in an interview with Larry King that had Edward Snowden come to him with the leaks, he would have kept his identity secret.

“I would have said to him ‘let’s not reveal who you are. Let’s make you a protected source…”

In addition to keeping the source secret, it seems as though Woodward would have also kept the data private. He said, “…give me time with this data and let’s sort it out and present it in a coherent way.'”

As we know, Pulitzer Prizes were recently given to a number of those who had a significant role in disseminating the leaks (find a great Jay Rosen article about the prizes here). We know that the governments involved in the spying did not take kindly to the news reports that blew the lid off of NSA activities. We know that journalist were targeted. We know that British government officials barged into The Guardian and demanded that reporters destroy the hard drives of their laptops that contained secret data.

Considering the government backlash, what would the potential consequences be had all the data remained in the possession of one reporter? Do you think Woodward is treading on thin ice morally by suggesting that he had the right to have control of the leaks or does info like that need to be shared with other reporting bodies? Woodward said he would have kept Snowden’s ID secret; what right does a reporter have in determining the status of a sources identification as being public or private?

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One Comment
  1. As long as what Woodard uses the information in the same way he did with Deep Throats information, because trusting an anonymous with information like this better be factual and not slanderous. Also look what happened to Snowden, he had to flee the country after he revealed the information about the NSA, so Woodard would have been right to keep his identity a secret that way you still have a man on the inside, like Deep Throat.

    Especially if the source requests to be anonymous, it’s up to the reporter to ask why and if the source doesn’t give a reason, then the reporter has no business talking to the source. Nowadays sources need good reasons to be given anonymous names like Deep Throat and it’s also up to the reporter to check if the information is sound. That way no one loses their job in the process and the reporter has to then prepare for the coming storm of government subpoenas.

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