When the Supply and Demand Curves For Blind Quotes Meet

There’s an interesting piece by Emily Schultheis up at National Journal about the problem Hillary Clinton’s proto-campaign is already having with the vast number of “former associates” of her and her husband who make themselves available to media for blind quotes explaining this or that aspect of what she’s doing or undoing.

Ever eager to voice opinions on everything from the timeline of Clinton’s announcement to her 2016 message to how her “hipster black-rimmed glasses” fit with the optics of a Brooklyn-based operation, self-labeled advisers are going rogue. And by freelancing, they’re taking the Clinton story out of Clinton’s hands, even as she tries to build a team that’s more leak-proof and less willing to air dirty laundry than in 2008.

Schultheis suggests the official HRC operation’s reluctance to make information available to the media contributes to the appetite for anonymous chatter served up by some former DAS at the Interior Department or Little Rock kibitzer who’s appointed him- or herself as a lifelong “Clinton Insider.” But it obviously works both ways:

Asked how the campaign could get a handle on all the anonymous outside chatter, [Phillipe] Reines placed much of the blame on the media for being willing to grant anonymity to sources who don’t know what they’re talking about. Unless the unnamed “advisers” stop talking to reporters, or reporters stop quoting them, Reines added, there’s no way to get the issue under control.

I’d say there’s something else going on here that transcends HRC coverage: a lot of reporters have a bad habit of shopping for blind quotes that just by sheer coincidence validate their own opinions. This enables them to speculate and pontificate just like some loathsome pundit or (shudder!) blogger without losing their credentials as hard-nosed shoe-leather reporters. The acid test of being a real journalist, you know, is being able to report the facts, even if the “facts” are some anonymous schmo’s opinion you found by calling up the usual suspects.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.