Harry Reid’s Racial Gaffe and the Dangers of Speaking on “Deep Background”
Putting aside the appalling double standard from Democrats regarding Trent Lott’s comments about Strom Thurmond and Harry Reid’s comments about President Obama, one key question surrounding this explosive news nugget served up by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in their new book, Game Change, is the fact the titillating revelation comes by way of a “deep background” conversation.
When a source speaks on “deep background”, the stipulation is that the reporter may assert the information at their own authority, with absolutely no attribution nor any quotes around any comments made by the source.
Putting aside the fact there is absolutely no question Reid’s comment reflects what can fairly be characterized as a 1950’s and 60’s country club “worldview” or “mindset” — and a Republican would be run out of town on rail for saying what Reid said — it’s not unreasonable to say at this point that Reid was burned big time by Halperin and Heilemann.
Explaining the ground rules with Senator Reid on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning, Halperin and Heilemann did not adequately explain why Reid’s terms were not violated.
With so many sidebar stories developing from the explosive release of Game Change, one that merits further exploration is the entire discussion surrounding “off the record, “deep background”, and “background” — and what it means.
So far, it appears Reid and all the others who spoke on “deep background” have been badly burned by Halperin and Heilemann. It would be helpful to hear more from them about this ground rules discussion, and why they believe it is appropriate to quote Reid and others directly under terms of “deep background”. Source/reporter relationships are the currency of Washington, and more needs to be discussed about how these Game Change comments from sources are now firmly on the record.