On the Condition of Anonymity: A Poem for Margaret Sullivan

For many months now, Ive been keeping track of the overuse of anonymous sources in The Times as a way of discouraging a practice that readers rightly object to. The practice continues apaceas do ever-more-inventive reasons for granting anonymity.”
—Public editor Margaret Sullivan, New York Times, 12/29/2014.

In keeping with diplomatic custom, with NATO practice, with a strong Vatican tradition of secrecy, with the peculiar conventions of Oscar publicity—

In order to talk more freely about the campaign’s internal thinking
in order to protect her nephew’s identity—

To avoid drawing attention at her school
to avoid upsetting past and potential future employers
to avoid possible conflict with fellow executives in a rapidly changing situation
to avoid antagonizing law enforcement officials
to avoid disciplinary measures from the White House
to avoid losing business with HBO
to avoid antagonizing Mr. Dolan—

So that his family would not learn of his situation
so that his relatives still on the island would not encounter problems with the Cuban authorities
so as not to make their lives worse
so that Mr. Westin’s and Ms. Sweeney’s statements would be the only official comment on Monday night—

Perhaps not wanting to seem as if he was complaining—

For fear of getting telephone calls from people who disagreed with the verdict
for fear of being reprimanded by his superiors
for fear of jeopardizing their employment or relationships with Facebook
for fear of antagonizing Mr. Rudin
for fear of inflaming the mayor and the local authorities, who prize discretion for visiting dignitaries
for fear of running afoul of the Chinese authorities
for fear of retribution by child welfare officials — by Apple — by insurgents — by his fellow Taliban members — by Mr. Matiullah and the Karzais
for fear of arrest
for fear that he would be killed
for obvious reasons—

Because of the nature of the Taliban victory
because he was not allowed to discuss the incident with the media
because of the secretive nature of his work
because of the mission’s political sensitivity
because the situation is in flux
because of pressure from China’s security apparatus
because the drone operations at Shamsi were classified
because the agencies had not publicly acknowledged the glitches yet
because of the continuing criminal inquiry into thousands of classified documents Mr. Snowden leaked four years later, when he was a contractor for the National Security Agency
because the group’s leaders in Quetta, Pakistan, have canceled all interviews until they decide on a unified public response over the flag issue
because he is a retired deputy inspector with the New York Police Department and he did not feel comfortable being revealed speaking about the topic
because he is under police observation during the congress
because he is working with the Giuliani presidential campaign
because of the delicacy of the nuclear issue
because of the official no-comment position—

Because of a certain uncertainty about his plans
because he did not want added attention
because this is a delicate subject as the company prepares for its initial stock offering
because the talks are incomplete — are confidential — were meant to be private — were continuing and might fall apart
because of the delicate nature of his job to maintain internet infrastructure
because his employer does not allow members of his team to be named in the media
because he did not want to jeopardize his job search
because of a ban on discussing unannounced Apple products
because their agreements with Amazon are confidential
because Fox had not given permission
because CBS and Late Show were not commenting on personnel matters
because Mr. Weinstein had not authorized them to share his personal views
because he still occasionally does business with Mr. Watsa and did not want to offend him
because he did not want to complicate relations with Mr. Watsa, whom he still knows socially
because he didn’t want to criticize the competition even this late in the game
because Google considers discussion of pre-merger snacking to be taboo—

Out of respect for the entertainer’s family—

He spoke.

A Poem for Margaret Sullivan