At Politico today, you can read about “how much Democrats want to play up the impact of outside money, much of which is undisclosed.” In the New York Times, you can read about the actual impact of such outside money, much of which is, yes, undisclosed.

In the former piece, “the impact of outside money” is treated as an “excuse,” something “braced-for-losses Democrats” are using as a “prebuttal,” unnamed insiders confirm. In the latter piece, “the impact of outside money” is, well, reported out. This, of course, requires more than getting quotes from unidentified officials—in the Times’s case that meant looking at the most recent FEC filings, obtaining a “color-coded master spreadsheet” used by “coordinating” conservative outside groups, and going to Florida to review ad buy records at a local TV station (which showed that in a House race in which the Republican challenger couldn’t afford to buy TV ads, “a succession of outside groups bought time for waves” of ads against the Democratic incumbent, a sort of “anonymous, attack-ad relay race.”)

The lede of the Times piece:

The anonymously financed conservative groups that have played such a crucial role this campaign year are starting a carefully coordinated final push to deliver control of Congress to Republicans, shifting money among some 80 House races they are monitoring day by day.

Meanwhile:

[O]utside liberal groups and unions say they are stepping up their response in advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts, but remain largely outgunned by the scale and sophistication of the operation supporting Republican candidates.

To the battle plans:

“We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time,” said Rob Collins, president of American Action Network, which is one of the leading Republican groups this campaign season…

And:

Both sides reported seeing an influx of new spending by liberal outside groups that had generally been subdued until now, a late-stage cavalry effect

So that’s total bombardment followed by shots fired from, ahem, concealed perches versus a “late-stage” horse-mounted charge. Sounds like something in that mix could have some sort of impact (for Democrats to “play up.”)

Incidentally, Rob (“it’s sniper time”) Collins is profiled by the Washington Post today since, per the Post, “in contrast to the donors supplying [American Action Network’s] cash, Collins does not shy from attention.” What’s to shy away from? Karl Rove describing you as “an exceptionally gifted operative with a keen strategic view” in the pages of the Post?

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.