Gibbs: White House proposed end to anonymous administration sourcing

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs approached White House reporters earlier this year in an attempt to end the long-standing practice of sourcing claims to anonymous administration officials, he told CNN on Sunday.

During that meeting with the press corps, Gibbs offered correspondents a no-background policy, in which the White House would only give on-the-record interviews if reporters promised not to cite unnamed sources, he explained to host Howard Kurtz in an interview on “Reliable

“I think we could all put what we want to say to the American people and to the news media all on the record,” he said. “I’ve offered to end it. But it’s got to be a two-way street.”

The news arrives as tensions between the White House and its devoted correspondents are growing, in part because of the minimal access they had to last week’s Nuclear Security Summit. Those reporters recently sat down with Gibbs to share their concerns in a meeting that lasted well over an hour.

Still, background sourcing is something of a staple in Washington journalism: Most administrations decline to comment on stories generated from tips offered by anonymous sources. However, those stories often shed light into scandals, mistakes, political moves or policy processes that would otherwise remain unknown to the public.

View the excerpted interview after the jump, courtesy of CNN.

GIBBS: I will say this. Yes, we had a discussion with the White House correspondents earlier in the year about the use of background sources. And I offered the Correspondent’s Association — I said, “Let’s end background.” Right? We won’t do background. You don’t do background.

KURTZ: And the reaction?

GIBBS: And the — the specific offer was if you’ve got a background source, one — you should put them on the record. And if you’re not going to put them on the record, then have somebody at the White House…

KURTZ: Give an on the record response…


GIBBS: Give — give them an opportunity…


GIBBS: … to say that that is or is not true. And we would attach our name to it.


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