Since nowadays we collectively seem to have a greater consciousness around “fake news,” here is a free tip.
When you read/watch mainstream news, anything that is reported as coming from anonymous government sources is guaranteed 100% propaganda and you can be virtually certain that what is being reported is at best partial truth, at worst full blown fabrication.
In terms of journalistic ethics, anonymity is supposed to be granted to a source only when that source is divulging sensitive information in the public interest that could put him at risk of backlash if his identity were known.
But in the vast majority of cases in mainstream reporting, anonymity is used to allow government officials to make baseless, accountability-free claims, usually to manipulate public opinion in one direction or another. By insisting on anonymity, these government sources ensure that they cannot be called out or criticized if/when their statements are discovered to be baseless, erroneous, or complete fabrication.
For the majority of cases, if a government official is just relaying facts to the best of his knowledge, there would be absolutely no need for anonymity. And if the information sought by a journalist is sensitive, the official can always decline to comment. Truly sensitive information in these government agencies are highly guarded and controlled and to think that there would be an opportunity for an agent or official to casually divulge such info to the NYT or Washington Post without that being easily discovered by the agency in question is ludicrous.
Therefore, when you do read a report full of anonymous claims from government sources, that is a clear red flag that what you are reading is fake news.