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This Town by Mark Leibovich

This Town by Mark Leibovich

Author:Mark Leibovich [Leibovich, Mark]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi, azw3
Tags: Non-Fiction, Politics
ISBN: 9780399161308
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Published: 2013-07-16T07:00:00+00:00


On the phone, Kurt kept asking me what he should do. He was speaking hushed and out of breath, as if he were hiding under a stairwell. I told him he could always just say he was not at liberty to discuss his participation in my book—or some righteous stonewall like that. He told me that that’s what he did. Except what he actually told Sherman was: “Am I bcc’ing him [me] on every e-mail I send out? Of course not.” At which point it was clear Kurt was nailed. Any idiot knew what that meant: that he was bcc’ing me on some e-mails.

Jake Sherman called me a few minutes later. We had never met but I knew who he was: a good young reporter who had been covering the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for about a year. I had been reading his stories (and, yes, a few of his e-mails) because of my interest in Kurt. We spoke mostly off the record. I confirmed nothing for him, which made me feel like an idiot, because he clearly had picked up the true rumor and my first instinct was just to tell him what was going on. But it was unclear if he had publishable goods and I was not going to be his confirming source on the e-mails. I was in no position to unless Kurt released me from our ground rules—that I would not reveal any details of our arrangement until after this book was published.

We went back and forth, Sherman and I. I reminded him that someone’s career and reputation hung in the balance—which, in retrospect, must have sounded patronizing and manipulative.

To any normal population of news consumers, a Hill flack forwarding e-mails to a newspaper reporter writing a book would not be a “story” that anyone would care about. Few people—in places like Amarillo or Fort Collins or Macon—even know what flacks are or why they exist (much less that they account for billions of dollars in the economy of the nation’s capital). But it—The Club—is no normal population. It is an exceptional population: Washington reporters and operatives and bystanders and time servers and coat holders. The people Politico writes for and about. What could be more interesting? Washington puts the “me” in “media.”

At this point, my uh-oh bone was vibrating. This little Beltway amusement seemed primed for takeoff, with me in the middle of the story, not where a reporter wants to be.

The next day, Saturday, I received a call from John Harris, the founding editor of Politico and my former colleague at the Washington Post. He said he was particularly interested in this Bardella story and was trying to get to the bottom of it. Our conversation mimicked the one I had had the day before with Sherman: John wanted to know what was going on, and I told him nothing while trying to appear helpful.

The one difference in my conversation with Harris is that I had known and worked with him for years.



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