The dirty secret driving this conversation is the near-universal recognition among reporters that, in trying to nab access and interviews, we sometimes tend to paint a rather benign portrait of our intentions in the pitch e-mails we write. (To wit, my e-mail last week to Muammar Qaddafi: "Dear Mo, it's been long time -- too long, in fact! How are you? I would love to come to see you, and no, I don't want to talk about Benghazi, and these al-Qaeda putzes trying to overthrow your glorious and democratically-chosen governnment! Mainly what I want to talk to you about is flowers. All facets of horticulture, actually. And, by the way, I'm on your side! I just read the Green Book again, and man, it is just brilliant! You're like James Madison in a dress! Which would make you Dolley Madison, I guess, but whatever. XXOO, Jeff.")
By the time you've spent a dozen years or more in journalism (like Leibovich, Lizza, me, etc.) you pretty much learn the downsides, ethical and practical, of lily-gilding, and I err on the side of morose foreboding when I ask for interviews. But the exposure of these sorts of e-mails -- and of a much worse sub-species, the e-mails that simultaneously promise the source the sun, the moon and the stars while trashing the competition -- is what is at stake here. People around Washington are very nervous about Leibovich's book, which is good for Leibovich.
I've created a short-cut for myself, by cc'ing Leibovich on every e-mail I write, and also by giving him access to my bank account.
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