Dan Froomkin writes
President Bush yesterday took the highly provocative rhetorical step of likening those who support negotiating with our enemies to Nazi appeasers. For most people following the presidential campaign, it was an obvious attack on Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama, who has been particularly critical of Bush's refusal to talk with leaders who disagree with him.
On the record, White House officials issued disingenuous denials that Bush was talking about Obama. But on background, they admitted as much.
CNN's Ed Henry reported that "White House aides privately acknowledged the remarks were aimed at the presidential candidate and others in his party."
Sasha Issenberg writes for the Boston Globe: "White House officials indicated that the criticism applied to Obama."
Brian Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News that "it was clear to those listening that it was in part to make a point about Barack Obama back home." NBC correspondent John Yang then added: "Privately, White House officials said the shoe fits the Democratic frontrunner."
When asked at yesterday's gaggle if Bush's remark was "in any way directed at Senator Obama," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino replied: "It is not." And not only that: She tried to blame Obama for such an interpretation. "I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you," she said. "That is not always true and it is not true in this case."
He doesn't mention the obvious fact that Yang, Williams, Issenberg, and Henry violated good journalistic practice by granting anonymity to the officials who were obviously dishing the official off the record line.
Granting anonymity in this case served no legitimate journalistic purpose. The journalists are complicit in the unusually clumsy charade.