Radiolab on "Neither Confirm Nor Deny"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jad Abumrad in CR2 talking with Brian Lehrer (Jody Avirgan)

Reporter Julia Barton and Jad Abumrad, co-host of Radiolab, explain the story behind the phrase "we can neither confirm nor deny" -- also known as "The Glomar Response" -- and how it has come to frustrate so many journalists and others seeking official information.


Jad Abumrad
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Comments [7]

On the other hand, given how close it still is to the tragic passing of Mr. Lehrer's wife (which I was shocked and saddened to learn of and extended my condolences for), perhaps I should have been more sensitive with my timing. I stand-by everything I wrote but perhaps I should have restrained myself a little longer.

Feb. 26 2014 12:58 PM

@ BL Show Moderator: My comment was directly related to the topic of this segment. The individual (sorry I can't recall the name) pitching w/ BL right after the segment boasted that this show never resorts to the evasive "neither confirm nor deny" response that was the very topic of this segment. I cited an example that I distinctly recall in which Mr. Lehrer did /exactly that/ (i.e., responded to a specific, direct claim by neither confirming nor denying it.)

My now-removed comment would have been entirely on-topic even absent the pitching segment that specifically prompted it.

Feb. 26 2014 12:41 PM
BL Moderator

[We've removed a couple comments that were off-topic. Remember, if you have a comment about WNYC programming (or the fund drive) please contact listener services Thanks.
-BL Producer-]]

Feb. 26 2014 12:03 PM

The Glomar response is the response of a 5 year old, "I'm not telling"

Feb. 26 2014 11:12 AM
Fred from Brooklyn

I'm a psychologist and I have had to use the Glomar response many times. Sometimes if a loved one of a patient calls for information, sometimes if I get a call from another professional (who calls without a release). I suspect this is standard procedure in my field and does not constitue an admission.

Feb. 26 2014 11:11 AM
david wilson from cliffside park, nj

I think there is a connection between the phrase "I can neither confirm or deny" and "I can't comment for reasons of national security."

What do you think? Is it a Cold War connection?

Feb. 26 2014 11:09 AM
Steve from Rockville Centre, NY

When parents are asked by their kids if they took drugs when they were kids, they Glomar their children.

Feb. 26 2014 11:08 AM

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