Since the Plame affair broke, it has become a standard for the news to report why they grant anonymity to a source. This is a positive trend. However, this particular one caught my eye today in a New York Times article:
One senior Republican strategist, granted anonymity because his assessment would put him at odds with party leaders, said that Democrats were succeeding in their main goal: turning the race into a national referendum on Mr. Bush and the Republican Party. "Is the race being nationalized?" this strategist said. "Yes."
So, "because his assessment would put him at adds with party leaders" is grounds for granting anonymity? Seems awfully weak grounds to me. I would think that anonymity should be granted in cases where the content of what the person is saying is crucial to getting out the story to the public. However, it is not clear that this article required this quote in order to make its point or to get out information crucial to the public interest and common good.
Since anonymous sources must always be viewed somewhat skeptically, it seems a significant weakening of the practice to have granted it in this case, for this reason, for this unimportant quote.