Alex Conant writes: The new White House communications director is launching a take-no-prisoners mole hunt, promising to stop future leaks.
He won’t succeed.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked in dozens of political organizations that all leaked to varying degrees. In 2008, I was the national press secretary for the Republican National Committee when internal concerns about vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin turned the final weeks of John McCain’s presidential campaign into a gusher of leaks.
In contrast, last year I was the communications director on Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, an organization that proudly rarely leaked. Our campaign embraced a practice of not indulging self-serving media narratives that distracted from our message, which helped discourage unauthorized leaks—even as it became clear Donald Trump would win the nomination. (Our campaign was so leak-free that when CNN claimed to have a leak in the final weeks of Rubio’s run, I confidently went on air to call BS.)
To borrow from Tolstoy: Political organizations that don’t leak are all alike; every one that does leak is leaky in its own way. In some leaky organizations, people leak to advance agendas or undermine opponents. Some leakers seek to enhance their egos or curry favor with reporters. Sometimes people leak without even realizing it, speaking carelessly to journalists or lobbyists, who then repeat the story to others. The common thread is that unauthorized leaks are a symptom of political organizations that have a broken culture: They lack unity, trust and self-discipline. [Continue reading…]