The article concerns the circumstances surrounding the recent ouster of White House counsel Greg Craig. The story makes it clear that the Craig exit was “the Obama team’s first assassination by leak.” As Steve writes,
Such intrigue and innuendo stand in sharp contrast to the internal vow of key stakeholders in Barack Obama’s campaign, as reported in David Plouffe’s insider account Audacity to Win—whom he says vowed not to allow “@#%holes” and leaks and the blame game to disrupt any aspect of their campaign. When problems arose or mistakes were made, the president and his team were forthright and dealt with each other directly and confessed their sins, when they committed them, to the public.
Steve’s article doesn’t mention health care reform, where debate has been shaped for months by anonymous leaks. Many Obama apologists spend a good deal of time attacking the these leaks as rumor but I’ve had the sense for a while that the White House was actually the source of many of them.
I wrote Steve Clemons and asked him, “There have been a ton of anonymous leaks on health care reform – have any of them had tacit White House approval?”
Here’s Steve’s response.
The health care leaks that have come from administration sources seem to have the approval of those at the helm of the political operation — particularly when it has come to the question of whether the public option should be in or out of a final package. But there have been leaks on other subjects as well. The reason that there seems to be tacit approval of some of these leaks is the disinterest the White House has shown in tracking leakers and plugging them up. Also, the leaks came at key moments in the debate designed to fight back against those who were distorting Obama’s health care plan intentions.
So, yes — leaking things out to the press seems to be a key part of the White House tool kit in shaping public opinion and wrestling with political opponents.