The strategic press leak, if used properly, can be an excellent proactive crisis management tool. (“Managing Public Relations Through the Strategic Press Leak”, http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/managing-public-relations-through-the-strategic-press-leak/)
Some people who leak information to the media are seeking to manipulate coverage. Cloaking information in secrecy may make it seem more valuable to journalists, and anonymity reduces the ability of others to cross-check or discredit the information. Later, the leaked information may be plausibly denied. (“News leak”, Wikipedia, April 29, 2013)
Anonymous official sources leak information to, for example, the Associated Press. The AP is the “cut-out” between the secret sources and the public. The public does not get to question the secret sources, nor do the secret sources even have a name.
Some recent examples of strategic press leaks via secret sources as proactive crisis management tool for the Boston Marathon bombings aftermath include…
- April 24, 2013: Two U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity told David Crary and Denise LaVoie of the Associated Press that Tamerlan Tsarnaev frequently looked at “extremist” web sites. (“More details emerge about the brothers”, published in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, April 24, 2013)
- April 25, 2013: Unnamed anonymous “officials” told Rodrique Ngowi, Lara Jakes, and Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press writers, that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had “acknowledged his role in the attacks” in the period between being taken into custody and being read his Miranda rights. (“Feds: Suspect talked before rights read”, published in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, April 25, 2013)
- April 27, 2013: Speaking from the shadows, two “government officials” told Associated Press, “on condition of anonymity”, that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, had had her name added into a “terror database” in 2011. (“Suspect moved to new site; FBI picks through landfill”, published in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, April 27, 2013)
- April 28, 2013: Unnamed U.S. officials, “who spoke on condition of anonymity”, told Associated Press that Russia’s FSB had eavesdropped on a conversation between Zubeidat Tsarnaeva and her son Tamerlan in which they had “vaguely” discussed jihad (“holy war”). (“Suspect had raised concerns with Russians over remarks on wiretap”, published in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, April 28, 2013)
In a normal trial, the accused has a right to confront witnesses. But in a “trial by ‘news’ leaks” the accused cannot cross-examine the secret sources who give strategic leaks to the Associated Press. So unnamed U.S. officials can say whatever they want, and the public cannot ask them questions! These “strategic leaks” go on to enter the public mind. Many people now accept as proven that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had made a confession to authorities before being read his Miranda rights. Many people now accept as proven that Tamerlan and his mother Zubeidat had been discussing jihad. That’s what happens when you are tried in the newspapers and not in a court of law!
And what about Misha, international man of mystery? A red-bearded chubby intellectual exorcist had somehow “just took the brain” of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. “Suspect Misha Wanted For Questioning” urged the April 29, 2013 Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry. Where and who is Misha?
The secret sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have responded to the Misha question. “U.S. officials say investigators have found no evidence that a conservative Muslim friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev had any connection to the Boston Marathon bombing,” reports Matt Apuzzo of Associated Press. Two U.S. officials, who “spoke on condition of anonymity”, say “the FBI has identified an individual believed to be Misha.” (“No Sign ‘Misha’ Tied To Boston Bombing: Officials”, by Matt Apuzzo. Associated Press, April 27, 2013)
FBI now knows who Misha is!? When do the rest of us get to know the identity of Misha? When will the “two U.S. officials” be cross-examined about it?
Late breaking: “On Sunday evening, Christian Caryl at the New York Review of Books introduced the world to the man he says is Misha.” Misha, according to Christian Caryl, is Mikhail Allakhverdov. The purported Misha lives in Rhode Island in a “modest” apartment. Allakhverdov denies having had any part in the Boston Marathon bombings. (“Boston bombings: Is Misha a red herring?”, by Peter Weber. The Week magazine, April 29, 2013)