Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Obama's oppo research

I've long thought that most reporting doesn't come from reporters wearing out their metaphorical shoe leather but from their receiving leaks from self-interested figures in politics and the bureaucracy. Ben Smith reveals how true this is when he tells how he got a little scooplette about John Edwards paying $400 for a haircut. It turns out that that little bit of bad PR for Edwards was fed him by the oppo guys on the Obama team.

Not quite the "above-it-all" facade that Obama tried to portray his campaign as.
I was always interested in candidate Obama's relationship with the dark(er) political arts and asked him at his first campaign press conference why he'd hired opposition researchers; he responded that they were to check out the candidate himself and to examine high-minded policy questions.

That was not, exactly, the whole truth. Indeed, Obama's campaign had a particularly capable opposition research shop, a source of tips to many reporters, not all of them on policy. And Plouffe, in passing, outs the campaign as the source of a brief item I did in April 2007 off an Edwards campaign expenditure — probably driving as much traffic, chatter and grief as anything that short I've ever written.

"We did much less of this [opposition research] than other campaigns did," Plouffe writes a bit self-servingly, "but there were times we indulged — it was our researchers who found John Edwards's infamous $400 hair cut expenditures."
There's nothing wrong, in my book, with a candidate doing oppo research on his opponents or with journalists reporting it. That's what politicians have been doing since our nation's beginning. It's their sanctimonious pose that the politicians are purer than all that or that the reporters are not just reporting leaks that have been handed to them that is so grating.

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