Ann Coulter pointed out that a fellow by the name of Greg Packer keeps turning up in articles published in the NY Times and other NY publications as a man on the street. He has been quoted over a hundred times in various publications on various topics. He was quoted for an article about Hillary Clinton's book signing: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign.".
At first this conjured up images of reporters sitting around at home all day while dreaming up copy:
"Let's see what's in the old assignment bin." (Rumages through a stack of paper slips.) "Ah! A story on the Hillary book signing. Perfect."
(Starts typing on a laptop while leaning back on a couch.)
"Oh, and they had people going out the door and down the street...yeah, that's it...down the street." [tickatickaticka]
"Ok, I need some quotes." (Grabs the Rolodex) "Ok, no, no, no, ... oh yeah, here's one. Greg Packer, he'll be a good one."
(Grabs the phone and punches in a number) [ring ring ring]
"Greg! How's it hangin, man? Say, you weren't by any chance at the Hillary book signing today, were you? ... You were?... First in line? I need a quote from you on that.... No, needs to be something more enthusiastic..."
But then I realized this guy may very well have been at all these events, and he knew where the reporters were and tended to hang with them trying to get his utterances into print. Which tells me that the guy was probably telling the reporters what they wanted to hear, and that's why his quotes get published. It would be just another opportunity for reporters to launder their own views through a third party, which is what such quotes from unnamed and semi-anonymous or obscure sources are often about.