Darrell Issa e-mail leaks: Why John F. Harris is massively overreacting.

Media criticism.
March 1 2011 12:32 PM

Politico's Editor Overreacts

John F. Harris, go soak your head.

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Has Harris ever asked a press spokesman or other official source if another reporter was nosing around the story he was working on? Of course he has! Knowing what your competition is up to so that you can beat them into print is a big part of a reporter's job. Harris knows full well that many press spokesmen routinely conduct their business in an "unprofessional" manner by sharing information with favored reporters about what less-favored reporters are working on.

Yes, such conduct is wrong. But so is a spokesman leaking "confidential" government business—and I'm sure that Harris doesn't object to that. The very foundation of reporting the news is encouraging unprofessional, compromising, and intolerable behaviors from sources to get their hands on "proprietary" information. It's what Politico does—quite well, I should add—every day.

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Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.