The issue is singularly frustrating for people who work and have worked in Clinton's press operation and dealt with the issue first-hand—enough so that several of whom, like Reines, were willing to give rare on-the-record interviews for this story.
"This is a constant problem," said Howard Wolfson, who served as Clinton's communications director in 2008. "There is an enormous number of people who have had, or claim to have had, an association with the Clintons over the years—and many of them claim to have some degree of knowledge of her plans or activities that they don't in fact have."
Unlike on the Republican side, where a crowded field makes candidates and their staffs happy to dish to reporters about big hires, early-state plans, and behind-the-scenes machinations, movements to and within Clinton's growing operation are closely held. Indeed, Republicans have used a running tally of the "no comment" responses from the Clinton camp to paint the former senator and first lady as out of touch—"OFF THE RECORD: no comment," read the headline on one recent Clinton-related release from the Republican National Committee.
So with Clinton's staff keeping public comments to a minimum, the quasi-"insiders" largely have the floor to themselves.
Certainly, former staffers eagerly offering up their own takes or speculation isn't unique to Clinton, but for her it's magnified by the amount of time she and her husband have spent in the public eye. There are decades' worth of former staffers to contend with: the Arkansas people, the Clinton White House advisers, New York Senate staffers, 2008 campaign aides, Clinton Foundation associates, and State Department aides, among others.
Asked how the campaign could get a handle on all the anonymous outside chatter, Reines placed much of the blame on the media for being willing to grant anonymity to sources who don't know what they're talking about. Unless the unnamed "advisers" stop talking to reporters, or reporters stop quoting them, Reines added, there's no way to get the issue under control.
"What gets lost is, there are no consequences for [the source or the media] when they're wrong—there just aren't," he said. "If you were to go back and look at the last three, four, five, six months of coverage about Secretary Clinton, you're going to see certain reporters who cover her closely whose accuracy rate is less than 50-50."
Any reporter covering the Clinton beat knows it's tough to navigate the sphere known as Clintonworld. A source who offers up good information for one story might be totally wrong on another. And most Democrats are understandably squeamish about talking on the record about anything Clinton-related, because nearly all of them are hoping for jobs with her. (More than a dozen people contacted for this piece said they were happy to discuss it—but only on background.)