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Eye On Olympia

The leak-prone ship of state…

At Politico.com, writer Ryan Grim has a roundup of the types of leaks that political reporters tend to get, and why.

A couple of examples:

The Pre-emptive Leak: A corollary of the above, this is a strategy to disseminate damaging news extremely early in a campaign so that it’s an old story by the time it matters.

Lehane cites an example from last decade. “In 1998, congressional Republicans had a report on Gore and campaign fundraising that was designed to be devastating,” he writes in an e-mail.

The report “‘found’ its way to The Wash[ington] Times on a Saturday morning, which (a) tainted the report as it was covered initially in a right-wing publication, (b) diminished news value by having [the] Times preview it, (c) came out on a Saturday a.m. (good day to kill a story) and (d) allowed Gore operation to point to the leak as proof of the partisan nature of the inquiry and undermine its credibility.”

The Accidental Leak: “It’s generally a good rule of thumb to be friendly with the press. [But] not everyone in the press is your friend,” says Jones. “It’s a transactional relationship.”

Forgetting that can result in loose lips and is a surprisingly common reason for a leak.

Hat tip: Gene Rose at NCSL.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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