But the normal rules apparently don't apply to Kerry's campaign spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter. In her world, she dictates to reporters how they should handle the information she disseminates.
Sen. John F. Kerry's campaign spokeswoman is deeply unhappy with the New York Times' chief political correspondent for quoting her criticism of Howard Dean.Kudos to Nagourney, who I hope will continue this policy when the GOP attack machine attempts the same tactic. Other reporters should follow suit as well. And using anonymity to attack is, in itself, a story (like, say, the Plame affair). Good journalists should not allow themselves to be used as tools for attack or disinformation. If the campaigns want to spread that shit, let them do it on the record or they should be outed.
The reason? The Massachusetts Democrat's team made the attack in an e-mail to reporters that contained a note asking that it be treated on "background," attributed only to a Democratic campaign. Adam Nagourney refused to go along.
After the capture of Saddam Hussein, Kerry campaign press secretary Stephanie Cutter listed past Dean statements in arguing that his opposition to the war in Iraq was "politically driven." Nagourney, ignoring the not-for-attribution request, wrote that this reflected campaign aides' concern that they not be viewed as politically exploiting a foreign policy victory.
Nagourney, who previously outed "background" e-mails from aides to Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), John Edwards (N.C.) and Bob Graham (Fla.), said: "If someone wants to go off the record, call me up, and I'll be glad to negotiate. But you cannot do it preemptively. I will not let someone attack someone else anonymously, which is what the Kerry campaign is trying to do."
As for Cutter, she is a moron to the nth degree:
Cutter, who sent Nagourney angry e-mail messages, says her staff is trying to provide a "truth squad" about Dean. "This campaign has no problem going on the record about the facts in this race," Cutter said. "We've never had a problem with ground rules before." Meanwhile, the Kerry camp has sent another "background" e-mail titled "An Illustrated Guide to Howard Dean's Foreign Policy." Nagourney didn't get one.If Cutter had no problem going on the record, then she wouldn't try to hide her attack emails behind a screen of anonimity. She could have the Kerry campaign put up a "truth squad" website to spread whatever message they think voters should hear. But fact is the Kerry campaign wanted to exploit the Saddam capture politically, while pretending not to play politics.
Nagourney did the right thing, calling Cutter on her hubris, and in response, she attacks him and turns him into an enemy. And, she looks like an idiot in the Washington Post.
Great job, Stephanie.
Again, I do hope Nagourney plays by the same rules when the GOP spams his inbox with anti-Dean or Clark messages.