- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2019

So are you weary of impeachment mysteries yet — all that breathless reporting from wide-eyed correspondents quoting anonymous sources who are “familiar” with the situation at hand. The unknown authorities are now a fixture of broadcast news coverage as the impeachment inquiry against President Trump picks up speed and races towards the desirable conclusions of certain lawmakers and government officials.

“Viewers of broadcast evening news this past month were bombarded on a near-nightly basis with anonymously sourced reports about the ongoing closed-door impeachment inquiry,” writes Bill D’Agostino, an analyst with Newsbusters.org, a conservative press watchdog.

From Sept. 24 — the day the impeachment inquiry was announced — to Oct. 24, ABC, CBS and NBC devoted 322 minutes to the probe in their evening newscasts, across 140 separate news segments. Of those, more than half — 82 stories, or 57% of the total — relied at least in part on information from anonymous sources, Mr. D’Agostino says.

The networks are using these anonymous claims “to pass along damning accusations against President Trump” that cannot be independently verified. The analyst also points out that the Society of Professional Journalists and even The New York Times stylebook advise that anonymous sources aren’t recommended and are considered a last resort.

Here’s exactly what the journalists’ society recommends: “Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.”



Yes, well.

“Put another way, every source who talks to a reporter is promoting the facts and spin that best reflects their agenda. When President Trump or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on camera, viewers can make up their own minds about how much to trust what is said. But when a source hides behind the cloak of anonymity, that source’s agenda is also hidden from the audience,” Mr. D’Agostino advises.

READY FOR A VEGAN PRESIDENT?

Presidents have done many things before taking office — the previous professions have included lawyers and former lawmakers or elected officials, of course — along with engineers, educators, farmers, soldiers, entrepreneurs — oh, and one actor, which was Ronald Reagan.

We now live in the age of identity politics, which now is addressed by a noteworthy poll which asked voters if America is ready for a gay or lesbian president, or one who is female, Hispanic, unmarried, agnostic, or even vegan. Hint: Everybody agreed that the nation would be comfortable with a woman as president.

See the numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

And one more thing. Presidential polls can indeed delve into noteworthy. A Harris Poll once asked 3,300 people if they would mind if a U.S. president or presidential candidate had a visible tattoo. The results: 6 out of 10 said they couldn’t care less about the presence of ink on the nation’s commander-in-chief.

MEANWHILE IN KOREA

Seems like old times? North Korea has conducted its 12 weapons test this year, firing off a pair of short-range projectiles which traveled 230 miles into the East Sea, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Make no mistake, if there is no change in the current trajectory of U.S.-North Korea relations there is only one possible outcome: a long-range missile or nuclear weapons test by Pyongyang that will spark a crisis just like in 2017. The only question would be how President Trump would respond,” says Harry J. Kazianis, senior director of Korean studies at the Center for the National Interest, a foreign policy think tank.

“North Korea has warned time and time again that if there is no mutually acceptable deal on denuclearization by the end of the year they will set out on a new way. That new way seems to me what Pyongyang always does when it wants attention — setting off a crisis that can’t be ignored. And the best way to do that is early in 2020 test an ICBM that can prove once and for all North Korea can hit the U.S. homeland with nuclear weapons,” he advises.

MEANWHILE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire’s famous status as the “first in the nation” primary state during presidential elections is a big draw. No Labels — an interest group originally founded by Jon Huntsman and several others to emphasize bipartisan political cooperation — is descending on the Granite State this weekend for a “Problem Solver Convention.” The event is aimed primarily at undecided, undeclared or independent voters. Some 1,500 will be on hand to weigh in at what the group calls “the largest ever mass in-person focus group and straw poll.”

Also appearing: Republican presidential hopeful Bill Weld; Democratic White House candidates John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson; veteran pollster Frank Luntz; and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of No Labels.

“The first in the nation New Hampshire primary will be pivotal in determining the nominee who will compete against President Trump for the highest office in the land. No Labels believes the candidate who can best articulate their ability to be a ‘problem solver’ will ultimately capture the imagination of the public. Candidates will have an unprecedented opportunity to make this case,” the organizers again.

Trump strategists, be advised.

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POLL DU JOUR

• 70% of U.S. voters say America is “ready” for a female president; 53% of Republicans, 68% of independents and 84% of Democrats agree.

• 63% say the nation is ready for an unmarried president; 56% of Republicans, 62% of independents and 71% of Democrats agree.

• 56% say the nation is ready for a Hispanic president; 44% of Republicans, 55% of independents and 66% of Democrats agree.

• 54% say the nation is ready for a vegan president; 43% of Republicans, 52% of independents and 66% of Democrats agree.

• 40% say the nation is ready for a gay or lesbian president; 22% of Republicans, 42% of independents and 54% of Democrats agree.

• 38% say the nation is ready for an agnostic or nonreligious president; 24% of Republicans, 42% of independents and 48% of Democrats agree.

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,997 registered U.S. voters conducted Oct. 25-28.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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