- Dancing Kim Jong-un video sparks North Korea fury
- Delta cancels all Israel flights over missile fear; US Airways also stops flight to Tel Aviv
- Philadelphia mosque leaders try to sever hand of accused thief
- NAACP: Detroit water shutoffs are racially motivated
- Obama family set to buy $4.25M desert home in California: report
- Big milestone for Britain’s little Prince George who turns 1
- Murphy: Israel must be wary of Hamas using civilian deaths for recruitment
- Royce: Putin recruiting ‘every skinhead and malcontent around Russia’
- Nancy Pelosi is adamant: Congress worked together when Bush was president
- ‘Slender Man’ stabbing victim receives Purple Heart from anonymous veteran
Learning to love oppo researchers, whistle-blowers of democracy
GW professor guides course in the not-so-dark arts
Question of the Day
Opposition research has changed in the Internet era. The job is harder and more consuming: More facts are available, but also more rumors, half-truths and outright balderdash.
Tactics have evolved, too. While past campaigns often leaked tidbits of damaging information to reporters in careful fashion — largely to sidestep accusations of playing dirty political tricks — the contemporary approach is more direct.
Last week, American Bridge 21st Century launched a preemptive strike, unveiling a website featuring its full books on possible Republican vice presidential nominees Marco Rubio, Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman, never mind that Mr. Romney has yet to make his choice.
One thing that hasn’t evolved, Mr. Yedwab said, is the negative perception of opposition researchers — a perception often exploited by the same politicians who hire and rely on them.
“There are still a lot of people who have a discomfort with the idea that campaigns don’t just tell you warm and fuzzy stories about what their candidate is going to do, but also stories about why their opponent isn’t a guy you would want to elect,” Mr. Yedwab said.
In his class, Mr. Di Resta repeatedly makes the same point: Despite their profession’s unsavory reputation, researchers are tasked with uncovering the truth. Uncomfortable or otherwise.
Because of opposition research, he said, flip-floppers are forced to explain themselves. Unknown candidates are more thoroughly vetted. And politics is made more honest. Relatively speaking.
“One of the toughest parts of my job is arguing with political consultants that, ‘Hey, you can’t say that on TV,’” Mr. Di Resta said. “I hate when things are blatantly wrong or misleading. And that’s not just when Republicans do it. Both sides.
“I don’t want the next generation of researchers to go out there and think they are superninjas. I want them to do it the right way. It might be slightly arrogant of me to think my way is the right way, but I think if we uphold standards, campaigns will be better.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- Obamacare dealt massive setback by federal appeals court
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- LYONS: Small-arms treaty, big Second Amendment threat
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters' questions on book tour
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq