Friday, March 07, 2008
you're gonna get shot, shot by me:
Publishing something that somebody vents to you and then immediately says is off the record when there is no broader significance to his/her comments makes you a fucking douchebag. It makes you the reason people justifiably hate the media. It makes me want to lodge a screwdriver in your achilles tendon, because you just abused a responsibility I take very seriously. It makes sources reluctant to talk to real reporters on the record.

Michael Calderone has the Scotsman's defense of ratfucking Samantha Power:
Sometimes, public figures say something and then attempt to retract it by insisting it was "off the record" after the event. But by then it is too late, particularly if it is in the public interest that the story be published.
I dare you to come up with an explanation of how the "public interest" was served by publishing her comments.
--Spencer Ackerman
For real? Powers made an amateur mistake, plain and simple. I guarantee that any paper in any part of the world with that sort of comment about any candidate would have run it -- especially if the "off the record" plea is made after the fact.

In the world of Washington, everything that's said has to prefaced with an explicit qualifier -- either it's on the record or not; either you can use it or its just for background. She didn't abide by this time-tested rule, and she got burned. This isn't Hillary's fault. If Obama doesn't want this happening again, he has to make clear that his advisors should only speak on the record when told to do so and when handed the proper talking points.
Blogger Martin Andres Austermuhle | 11:24 AM

More importantly, what's a ratfucking?
Blogger Damir | 11:25 AM

Ahhh, here it is:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ratfuck

Sorry to have doubted your language, Spencer. I just assumed it was a colorful neologism.
Blogger Damir | 11:43 AM

Isn't it her job to say what happened at the interview? If an aspirant to power blurts out their true feelings during an interview, don't we want to know?
Blogger Dave Hunter | 1:00 PM

Yeah, for real. Spencer's point is that there's basically zero conceivable "public interest" arising from reporting that quote.

It's like if you blurt out "fuck" in the middle of an interview--yeah, the reporter has a "right" to report it, but unless unless you're running for the deacon board, what's the relevance? In this case, Martin, I think that a lot papers would respect the subject's request, since it's obvious that the ONLY "cash value" to reporting the quote would be to predictably allow Hillary's campaign flame her with it as insulting, etc.

But the reported decided that the "public (of a foreign country, no less) needed to know", and the net consequence is that the American public now knows that when Samantha Power gets worked up, she can lose her cool and engage in hyberbole that's offensive to those of monstrous ethnicity. In exchange for this invaluable information, the United States very likely loses the public service of a talented foreign affairs thinker.

All-in-all, a wonderful demonstration of the wisdom and benefits of a free commercial press.
Blogger Eric | 4:13 PM