In the past few days the New York Times and Washington Post broke three major stories with the help of leaks: John Edwards' readiness to declare paternity, Stanley McChrystal's blunt assessment of the Afghanistan war, and Barack Obama's intervention in the New York governor's race. For Post media columnist Howard Kurtz, they all raised questions of propriety and influence. "None acknowledged the elephant-in-the-room question of whose agenda was being advanced through these leaks," he writes.
The Edwards article, on page one, may have been stoking interest in an upcoming book, while Bob Woodward's McChrystal exclusive, which may have helped the White House, left the Pentagon "frankly disgusted." The New York story may be most shocking of all: "senior administration officials" speaking "on condition of anonymity" were able to knife David Paterson without any attribution. For Kurtz, it's another case of journalists "erring on the side of keeping readers in the dark about those pulling the strings offstage."