Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Unamed Sources Mean Unknown Biases

I am a little disturbed by Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh's use of unnamed sources as a basis for his column on whether John Edwards is sincere when he says he regrets his vote on the Iraq war. According to these two anonymous but supposedly high-level Kerry/Edwards 2004 campaign aides, Edwards was gung-ho about standing behind his vote to authorize force in Iraq. The implication, of course, is that Edwards is only apologizing for his vote because it's politically expedient, and not because he actually believes that it was wrong.

The problem, however, is that since Lehigh's story relies on three former aides that he declines to name, we have no way of assessing what might motivate them to come forward. Most of the people involved at that level with the Kerry campaign in 2004 are now working for other candidates. Lehigh does not mention whether these sources are supporting other 2008 candidates -- John Edwards' rivals -- and readers are left to wonder. I have to imagine that almost everyone who was a high enough level operative to be privy to the conversation that Lehigh describes is still working in politics, and has something to gain if their preferred candidate wins the Democratic nomination. This is the same sort of conflict that lead CNN to label James Carville a Clinton advisor instead of a "political analyst" during on-air segments.

Even if Lehigh's sources aren't biased in favor another candidate, it's quite likely that they still may have an axe to grind with Edwards. He has been expressing his frustration with the 2004 consultants for some time now, and it's likely that some of them might want to make him look bad in return. Edwards' message these days is that he's tired of listening to consultants, even his own, and whether or not that message is being scripted by a campaign aide, I have to imagine that it's causing a little discomfort among the DC consultant class.

And just in case anyone was wondering about my own biases, I'm neutral on the current crop of Democratic Presidential candidates. I'm not picking on Lehigh because he dissed my candidate because I don't have one. If you'd like to read reaction to the column from an actual Edwards supporter, check out this post at Boston for Edwards.