Off-the-Record Smears

I’ve received, in as many days, two unsolicited emails from the same Tier 1 Republican campaign beginning with an announcement that they were Off the Record and then proceeding to cast aspersions on the same Tier 2 Republican candidate, presuming in hopes that I would publish said rumors without sourcing the campaign.

While my rudimentary understanding of journalistic ethics is that I’m not bound to rules of attribution unless I’ve agreed to them, my own site policies, written with emails written by private individuals in mind, states that, “The content of these messages, including the identity of the sender, is presumed for publication unless otherwise requested.”

I’ll give thoughts to a carve-out in the site policies for campaigns and other organizational contacts. In the meantime, let me just state for the record that I find these attempts by campaigns to plant smears reprehensible.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Media, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Christopher says:

    wow. so what is it you have thought to this point that political pesidential campaigns do?

    Shocked! SHOCKED!!

  2. bains says:

    While I’m curious which campaign is asking you to spread rumours, I certainly hope you let the campaign in question know just how sleazy you think that kind of behavior is.

  3. Triumph says:

    What’s the point of having a blog if you won’t spread off-the-record smears?!?!

  4. McGehee says:

    Here’s my proposal for a policy: If a campaign emails you with a smear aimed at another candidate, you will publish the smear — except that you will replace the name of the targeted candidate with the name of the candidate whose campaign sent the email.

    In fact, I’m tempted to set that policy for my own blog right now. At last, something to post about today!

  5. McGehee says:

    So, James — does this look anything like what those emails were about?

  6. James Joyner says:

    So, James — does this look anything like what those emails were about?

    Ironically, no.