Politico's profile of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and his run of top-level scoops has been greeted with some grumbling from his colleagues who are quick to point out that his high-profile exclusives were based on leaks from the White House. "David Ignatius, beneficiary of White House leaks, is praised by anonymous W.H. official as a great journo," tweeted Reuters columnist Jack Shafer. Salon's Glenn Greenwald, who, as Dylan Byers pointed out in his piece, has described Ignatius as "the CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post," took to Twitter to complain about the anonymous administration official Byers quoted praising Ignatius. "Why does an administration official need/get anonymity to slobber all over David Ignatius' greatness?" he wrote.
That attention to anonymity and information management is just why Ignatius gets the access he does, Byers argued in his profile. "People know that they can give him information and they know it will be handled correctly and safely," fellow Post reporter Sally Quinn told him. "He understands the significance of the information, and he knows what to do with it." Last week Ignatius broke the story of the Osama bin Laden documents that revealed a plot on President Barack Obama, and last month he revealed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's fear that Israel would attack Iran, a pair of stories that have made him the national security it-boy Byers describes. But they also show the importance of keeping your sources happy in the fickle world of Washington reporting.
And Ignatius does keep his scoop-providers happy. The unnamed Obama official that Greenwald complained about, told Byers that Ignatius's reputation for high-profile, fairly reported stories was what made White House officials want to give him the more high-profile scoops: “David is not only influential, he’s a serious journalist who is taken seriously. His byline gives [the bin Laden] story instantaneous cachet, credibility and, yes, visibility.”