campaign desk

How To Leak A Political Scoop

It starts with an e-mail...
December 1, 2010

How exactly do inside sources leak information to political reporters? Let Paterson communications director Peter Kauffmann show you.

It all begins with an enticing e-mail…

At 9.25 a.m. on February 9, 2010, the same day the New York State Senate voted to expel Senator Hiram Monserrate—who was convicted of misdemeanor assault for cutting his partner’s face during an argument—Kauffmann sent Liz Benjamin, then blogging for The New York Daily News, an e-mail with the subject line, “Hiram.”

Benjamin responded within three minutes:

Sign up for CJR's daily email

Now, we don’t know what transpired in the hour after that, but at 10.33 a.m. that same day Benjamin published a blog post titled “D-Day for Hiram,” in which she confidently wrote the following.

Members of the Paterson administration are calling around to Senate leadership staffers to assure them, yet again, that the governor is ready to call for a special election to full Monserrate’s seat immediately after he is bounced – assuming he is.

The next day she was able to open a post about the special election announcement with a triumphant, “As promised…”

And that’s how it’s done.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.