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> "You are not going to see the Chinese give up on ‘zero days’ just because we do"

This is a dishonest argument - many of the zero days held by the Chinese are likely to be the same zero days being withheld the N.S.A., so by disclosing them the N.S.A. would be dealing a huge blow to our adversaries' offensive capabilities.

The NYT should have gotten a quote to counter-balance this argument from a "senior intelligence official" (upon whom they shamefully, but predictably, bestowed anonymity). Now many of the people reading this article will come away believing this is akin to nuclear disarmament, which is a totally inapt comparison.

The reporter is David Sanger. He's more or less a direct propaganda/press outlet for Washington.

> upon whom they shamefully, but predictably, bestowed anonymity

I'm with you on the rest of your points but not on this one. Balance would be nice but anonymity is often key to good reporting. There's nothing shameful about soliciting a quote and then keeping that person anonymous.

I'm not against all anonymity, but in general, anonymity is bad for journalism. It makes it impossible for readers to judge the credibility of the source, and puts people who want to challenge the source at a disadvantage. It permits the source to say whatever they want, without any fear of it harming their credibility.

In narrow circumstances, such as whistle-blowing where the source would face harm from a disclosure of their identity, anonymity is both appropriate and essential (and in such a case it's essential for the newspaper to do as much verification as possible before conferring anonymity). But a government employee spewing pro-government propaganda does not need the protection of anonymity.

Edit: reworded for clarity.

For some details to back up agwa's statement, http://ajrarchive.org/Article.asp?id=1596 has some interesting history on anonymity in newspaper reporting. For example:

> During his shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, Kissinger insisted on anonymity even though the information was reported by the press traveling with him and attributed to the "senior official on the plane." On one of Kissinger's sojourns, humorist Art Buchwald attributed information to a "high U.S. official with wavy hair, horn-rimmed glasses and a German accent."

> Periodically, journalists grow weary of the insistence on anonymity and rebel. But generally not for long.

> In 1971, then-Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee ordered that information provided by Kissinger about a pending summit meeting be attributed to him because it was simply too important to be reported anonymously, according to Walter Isaacson's book "Kissinger."

> "The Post's action caused a widespread realization that reliance on backgrounders had gone too far," Isaacson wrote. Nevertheless, the White House Correspondents Association soon passed a resolution agreeing to abide by Kissinger's briefing rules.

How does it help us, the public, to let Kissinger choose when to make anonymous statements?

Overall that American Journalism Review link points out that time and time again, with only a few exceptions, anonymity is abused.

> many of the zero days held by the Chinese are likely to be the same zero days being withheld the N.S.A

Are you sure?

Is he sure that's it's likely? I'm sure that it's likely he does.

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