The Washington Prowler runs with another anonymously sourced claim

That didn't take long. The American Spectator's blog, the Washington Prowler, is again circulating a baseless, anonymously-sourced claim about a public official, this time speculating about why Colin Crowell -- a senior adviser to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski -- is leaving his position.

The only evidence The Prowler offers up for its conjecture comes from unnamed “sources,” “FCC staff,” and “speculation” from the “telecommunications industry.”

Last week, the Prowler got burned on similar folly when it published a column -- again based entirely on anonymous “sources” -- claiming that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' office had a report on the cost of the health care law compiled by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services “more than a week before” the health care votes, but HHS “refused to review the document before the vote was taken.” In spite of quick adoption by the right-wing media, the claim turned out to be false.

That didn't keep the Prowler from reversing course, falsely claiming that they had never said that HHS had received such a report, and asserting (again, based on anonymous “sources”) that HHS had received the data that was later contained in the report and withheld it. In emails to American Spectator editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., exclusively obtained by Media Matters, CMS chief actuary Richard Foster demolished both Prowler pieces, calling them “completely inaccurate” and “factually incorrect.”

The Prowler has a history with dubious anonymous quotation, which is perhaps what has earned it sharp criticism from conservatives and liberals alike, including National Review's Jim Gerharty:

“I've been wondering if the quotes from anonymous sources that appear in the American Spectator's Prowler column were a little too good to be true since, oh, 2004," he wrote. “I know how tough it is to get Democratic sources to talk to conservative publications ('Hi, this is Jim Geraghty with National Review and... hello? Hello?') and yet, one disgruntled Democrat after another apparently picks up the phone and trashes their bosses to the AmSpec's Prowler in vivid and colorful terms that confirm every conservative's worst suspicions.

”So I'm less than shocked that Richard Foster, the chief actuary for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is categorically denying the latest jaw-dropping allegation from the Prowler, that his office sat on a report that the health care bill would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers until after the bill passed."

Geraghty later added: “Putting faith in a Prowler report requires caution and assessment of risk, much like handling flammable materials or giving up three draft picks to get Tim Tebow."