Turtles all the way down

I'm working very hard right now to get to the bottom of a number of confusing local issues with a complicated history.  It was a pleasure, therefore, to read the clear-thinking columnist Holman Jenkins on some basic issues about reliable sources:
Splitting is . . . a method of columnists. Example: All true things about Donald Trump are bad, all bad things about Donald Trump are true.
* * *
Splitting columns write themselves, and tend toward lists, as if piling up claims is a substitute for examining them. So Christopher Steele was said to be a “credible” ex-spy, though unasked is what exactly he was in a position to be credible about: only that he faithfully relayed claims made by his source’s sources to his sources, and a little bit about how this game of telephone was set in motion—i.e., money was dished out.
Once upon a time, no reputable paper would print a sensational claim from a source who won’t vouch for its truth, who got it from a source he won’t identify, who got it from a source he can’t or won’t identify, and all were paid.
Citing Mr. Steele’s credibility was not even a competent appeal to authority, since his credibility derives from a profession that specializes partly in disinformation.

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