On Thursday night, President Bush is scheduled to address the nation about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What will he say? Thanks to some careful cultivating of anonymous sources deep, deep inside the White House, the New York Times today uncovered a startling revelation, which hinted at the sure-to-be controversial subject matter of the president’s forthcoming speech.

“Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss proposals that have yet to be decided on,” noted the Times, “said Mr. Bush was likely to set out a broad commitment to rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, with a particular focus on housing.”

You mean tomorrow night the president isn’t going to backpedal out of the Louisiana Purchase? He isn’t going to suggest that the hundreds of thousands of displaced Americans should give up on housing and look into, say, caves?

Tell us more, anonymous sources, tell us more.

Unfortunately, that was the grand sum of the anonymous source’s revelation in the Times. Luckily, over at the Washington Post, unnamed administration aides were filling in the controversial details.

“At tomorrow’s speech, the president is to outline his vision more comprehensively than he has to date,” noted the Post today. “A top aide said he will stress that New Orleans officials will dictate how the city will be rebuilt, but will also make plain the reconstruction should reflect his vision of government — including reducing regulatory obstacles and emphasizing entrepreneurship over big government, the aide said. He will discuss plans to provide health care, education, jobs and housing assistance to flood victims, another aide said.”

Fair enough.

But there are still a number of important questions about the president’s upcoming speech that remain unanswered. Will he sympathize with the victims? Does he think America is up to the challenge? Do rescue workers deserve our thanks and praise?

We trust the Times and the Post, will continue to pry such valuable information loose from deep within the shadows of government - cloaked, of course, in offers of protective anonymity to the administration sources revealing such explosive news.

Felix Gillette

Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.