Andrew Sullivan thinks it a betrayal that McCain campaign official Michael Goldfarb passed along emails Sullivan had sent inquiring about the Trig Palin rumors:
But for the McCain campaign to go to these lengths, violating core confidentiality of private good-faith questions, is something that has never happened to me before in journalism. I am also amazed that a fellow journalist would publish such emails in full. But since this is now all in the open, you deserve to know what your blogger has been trying to do in private for three weeks: just get a factual answer to a factual question on the record.
Respectfully disagree. If you want to smear someone, you don’t go to Howard Kurtz, who then emails you and allows you to explain yourself. I don’t know why Mr. Sullivan is intent on the Trig Palin story, though I’ve read a few of the relevant posts. He certainly knows more about it than I do.
But I also feel uneasy about the idea that emails should be assumed to be off the record. If a campaign official ever sent an email in which he doesn’t specify something as off the record, any reporter worth his salt is going to quote it. It’s fair game when it works the other way.
It also plays into the McCain camp to have Obama supporters continue asking about Trig Palin rather than letting it drop. Look, this may appeal to liberal bloggers, but it’s likely a big turnoff for independents to even hear about this. When independents see Trig, they don’t see the political football the bloggers do. In other words, Goldfarb doesn’t “dignify the question with a response” because it forces you to keep asking it. I bet Goldfarb’s assumption is that McCain wins the more you do.