Doesn't Roll Call, the Capitol Hill insider bible, know that we reporters are supposed to play "gotcha" games with politicians and not each other? Well, one of its contributors apparently didn't get that memo. I know because a story I posted online last week about a House GOP "death list" of candidates likely to face defeat was the subject of the Roll Call story written by Rothenberg Political Report Political Editor and Roll Call contributor Nathan Gonzales. For some reason, he tried to compare the Whispers list with another posted online in a bid to out our source, a big no-no in my book. He made the lists sound alike. They aren't. They don't even look alike: Ours was in Word, his in Excel. And for some reason, the reporter found meaning in the actual time our story posted and the minute the other list published, suggesting that they were the same because they went live on the Web just some five hours apart. Of course, this embarrassment could have been avoided if he had waited a little before pushing the online-publish button. He E-mailed me Monday to find out if his list was the same as mine, but I didn't see the message until Tuesday because I was traveling on GOP running mate Sarah Palin's bus. In it, he didn't ask Whispers to reveal sources--we wouldn't--but did ask if our list was the same as one from former House GOP official Scott Hatch, now a lobbyist. The best part: His E-mail came in at 2:35 p.m. Monday, just 62 minutes before the story posted on the Web. Now I know how some public figures and press aides feel when getting calls from reporters for comment on stories they are only minutes away from publishing. Anyway, here, in part, is my belated E-mail back:
Sorry, dude, I was on the road with GOP running mate Sarah Palin and out of BlackBerry range, I opened. Your "gotcha" game on who my source is failed ...Our list came from a current insider, not some long-ago aide who may or may not have an ax to grind with those on his list. What's more, your effort of trying to figure out down to the minute when I posted my story and how closely it matched the timing of the other list was silly. Believe it or not, I don't sit glued to my desk pumping out info the second I get it like so many bloggers. Sometimes I actually sit on stuff for days until we can verify it--or if I just feel like doing something else.
By Paul Bedard