I didn't mean to imply that it was - I meant to imply that the journos will credibly pass on what the anon sources say, and credibly pass in their status.
So - if NYT says 'a source within the white house said ABC' - then you can be almost assure that 'a source within the white house said that'.
I agree - it doesn't mean that the statement itself is factual - but it is only presented as 'what someone said' - not as a fact.
The 'bias' in reporting is not from the statements themselves - but the topics they chose to engage, the people they speak to, the selection of the quotes, the context etc..
Credible news outlets don't just lie and make stuff up. They do other things, but not that.
I do however view "selection" as an act omission. And I believe in the context of presenting information citizens have a common interest in, omission is a lie.
A key selection in the coverage of the election was to avoid disclosing the relative sizes of the crowds at the campaign rallies of the respective candidates. Accurate information may have spurred some of the 46% of people who didn't vote to go to the polls. I'm strictly independent, but I believe more people voting is always better.
I also believe a lot of bias comes in with the analysis of facts or statements, which can lead to omission of important perspectives. And I do believe often times, these perspectives are shaped by the needs of the network's advertisers.
It's basically impossible not to contextualize, and to provide information selectively.
That's the inherent and systematic problem with managing information.
They have no choice but to do it.
So there are a lot of 'editorial rules' and 'best practices' in the trade to try to ensure fairness. It doesn't always work, and it's not always applied.