In Thursday’s Politico Playbook, Mike Allen lectured HuffPost‘s Peter H. Stone on the rules of reporting. “PLAYBOOK LIFE LESSONS – WHY YOU SHOULDN’T GO AHEAD AND POST A STORY WITHOUT TALKING TO THE KEY PERSON, even if they’re traveling,” Allen wrote in Playbook.
The “key person” in this case is former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. A Wednesday story by Stone cited two Republican “operatives” who said Barbour has decided to leave American Crossroads because he disagrees with its strategy going forward to get Republicans elected in the 2014 midterm elections. American Crossroads is a super PAC run by Republican strategist Karl Rove. Barbour was a heavy fundraiser for the group and a surrogate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney throughout the 2012 campaign cycle.
Stone’s story said Barbour was “traveling and did not respond to a request for comment.”
Allen received exclusive comment from Barbour after the story published. Barbour told Playbook:
“The [HuffPost] article …. has no basis in fact. Nobody at [HuffPost] even talked to me about it. From the beginning of my involvement with American Crossroads in 2011, I repeatedly, consistently and publicly said my participation with Crossroads was to try to help elect a Republican president in the 2012 election. That effort ended last November; so did my American Crossroads effort. I left with high regard and respect for American Crossroads and its entire team, many of whom have been friends as well as colleagues of mine for many years. …”
Though Barbour denies HuffPost‘s report, Stone tells FishbowlDC he stands by his sources… “As the story says, I tried to contact Barbour,” Stone said. “His assistant forwarded messages to him that I was seeking comment for my piece. And yes I stand by my long time sources who have good ties to American Crossroads.”
In the digital age, it’s common practice to publish information as it becomes available, even if a “key person” isn’t available for comment. For example, take this story by Politico‘s Reid Epstein on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates teaming up to effect the immigration debate. “A spokesperson for [Bill] Gates did not immediately return a request for comment,” the story says. Does the lack of access to Gates, a “key person” in this story, mean the piece should never have been published?