Trust And/But Verify

9:50 a.m. E.T.

What we are seeing now on the Petraeus story reporting is a familiar dynamic whenever there is breaking news on a matter that involves national security, the law, and politics. Reporters are getting backgrounders from government officials who they trust in general and trust to give them the straight facts in this case.

In instances such as this, due to competitive pressures and the urgency of the story, journalists will sometimes implicitly put aside their usual healthy skeptical response to what government officials tell them.

There is a hunger for tick-tock details about the CIA chief and the other alleged players in the central drama, but there are also questions about the actions and knowledge of a range of government officials.

So far, while there are theories and suspicions, no government intelligence, political, or legal official is known to have behaved improperly regarding the investigation. But getting at the truth on all that is somewhat complicated by the identity of those providing information to a super-hungry press corps.

Related Topics: David Petraeus, Mark Halperin, Analysis

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