Novak on VP Announcement: I May Have Been Used

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jul 22, 2008 4:45 PM
From Time's "The Page":

Prince of Darkness tells Fox News Channel: His report about McCain announcing his running mate this week may have been “a dodge” by the campaign to grab some headlines from Obama.

The conservative columnist goes on to say he’d gotten the tip from a “very senior McCain aide” and that the campaign “suggested I put it out” so he posted something online.

Now he says he’s been told by “certain people” he may have been used. Adds if that’s the case, it’s “pretty reprehensible.”

Watch the video.  My favorite line is: "I just put something up on the internet..."

In fairness, it is reprehensible for a campaign to leak false information to this venerable and friendly reporter, knowing he would end up with egg on his face.  Novak did what most reporters would have done.  Reporters looking to break stories are likely to believe a rumor if it comes from a trustworthy source who has time and again proven himself to be reliable.  And under those circumstances, most reporters will run with a story -- especially if it's a "scoop".   Remember, in this new media world, time is of the essense.  If you don't break the story, someone else will!

Of course, sometimes they get it wrong.  For example, it was a highly reliable source that allowed me to correct Novak's prediction that Romney would deliver a "Mormon speech" after Iowa.  My source was right; his source was wrong.  The speech did happen (as he predicted), but it happened before Iowa.

On the other hand, I do get tired of seeing some bloggers, pundits and reporters get publicity by pushing stories that I know are false.  Pundits are rarely -- if ever -- punished for bogus predictions.  In fact, nobody ever bothers to bring up even the most audacious examples.  For example, whatever happened to the guy who was so sure Condi Rice wanted to be VP?  As you may recall, I told you it was bogus from day one ...