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.