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New York Times quotes anonymous City Pages blog commenter on Michele Bachmann

New York Times quotes anonymous City Pages blog commenter on Michele Bachmann

Holy mackerel! The New York Times has now resorted to quoting comments from this blog in its stories on Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

In Friday's New York Times, Reporter Kate Zernike wrote a story headlined, "A Breast-Feeding Plan Mixes Partisan Reactions." About halfway down, it features an odd, unattributed quote supporting Bachmann.

"Holy mackerel, I might have to agree with Michele Bachmann on this one!" noted one person on a blog.

If the comment looks familiar, it's because it was left by an anonymous "guest" on the blog you are reading.

On Tuesday, February 15, we published a post about the brewing debate over breastfeeding between Michele Bachmann and First Lady Michelle Obama. The post attracted no small amount of interest, including Star Tribune columnist James Lileks, who took issue with our picture of Bachmann breastfeeding in an article published yesterday in the New York Post.

Among the comments on the blog post itself was the one that the New York Times quoted. You'll notice that the Gray Lady took the liberty of cleaning up the mispelling of Bachmann's first name (how many times do we have to tell you guys, it's "Michele" not "Michelle") as well as the butchering of "mackerel" (maybe we need to invest in spell-check for comments?).

The New York Times used this anonymous comment as a source on Michele Bachmann.
The New York Times used this anonymous comment as a source on Michele Bachmann.
City Pages

Although unable to trace the quote back to its source (us), The Huffington Post criticized the vaunted paper's decidedly low-standard for sourcing, in a post headlined, "Random Anonymous People With Unidentified Blogs Are Apparently Allowed to Be Sources for New York Times."

Also, on which blog can one find the line, "Holy mackerel, I might have to agree with Michele Bachmann on this one!" I'm asking because I cannot seem to locate it. This leads me to suspect that this line was not actually said "on a blog." Perhaps it was said by a blogger? If so, it would be useful to know the context of how this quote was obtained. Maybe this is someone Zernike bumped into at a coffee shop, or something? And this person has a blog, too, so that lends some awesome gravity to her commentary?

It's a mess! I can't judge for myself the quality of this random person's "progressive" political stances. I can't even prove this person exists.

New York Times quotes anonymous City Pages blog commenter on Michele Bachmann

While we're flattered that the New York Times saw fit to pay attention to our humble blog, we would caution against quoting our commenters. Some of them are trolls, as this one appears to be. Plus, if the commenter doesn't even know how to spell Michele's first name, how reliable a source could he or she really be?

And surely there is someone willing to talk about Michele Bachmann who will let you use their name? Call our office and ask for Hart Van Denburg.

Indeed, the use of anonymous sources in this manner would seem to violate the New York Times ethics policy as laid out in this post from the paper's Public Editor, who notes that this practice has long been a bugaboo for the Gray Lady:

The policy says anonymous sources should be used only as "a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way."

But if the New York Times is going to use our commenters as sources for quotes, we expect you all to up your game (looking at you, Kirk the Conservative Jerk).

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