Yesterday I chastised Josh Marshall for suggesting the only possible explanation for the leak was Republican skullduggery. I also suggested that this had a bit of the stench of a Clintonian “pre-emptive” leak. After all, the Clintonites have much of the spin machine back together (Lanny Davis runs a media crisis practice these days so it would be nice to know who’s on retainer and who’s not). They all have the same talking points and canned outrage about the same things, etc. Anyway, here’s another tidbit as to why it’s not absurd to think this was a Lanny Davis special. The fellow who broke the Berger story was John Solomon. And According to Davis, Solomon was “the most fair” reporter he knew because Solomon was willing to take so many items from Davis. For example, from an April 12, 1999 article by Howard Kurtz:
In “Truth to Tell,” out next month, Davis argues for “good,” factually based spin over “bad,” deceptive spin — but concedes that some of his spin was “so transparent that it is amazing that we thought we could get away with it.”….
Davis coins the marvelously bureaucratic phrase “deep-background private placement” to describe negative stories about the White House that he leaked to put the least damaging version in play. Davis’s favorite outlet was the Associated Press, not only because it is “notoriously fact-oriented and fair” but because once a story was on the wire, such newspapers as The Washington Post and New York Times “would not be inclined to give it front-page play.”
Another White House favorite was the Wall Street Journal, because political news “usually got placed on the back page of the front section, which often diminished the impact of the story.” And Davis liked the Los Angeles Times because the “major national daily newspapers resisted repeating stories broken by an ‘out-of-town’ newspaper.”
Thus, Davis called the reporter he deemed most fair, the AP’s John Solomon, with documents suggesting that Clinton had made fund-raising calls from the White House residence. The leak occurred on July 3, 1997, so the story would get lost on the Fourth of July holiday.