“On the record? No comment. Off the record? She’s a cum-guzzling felch-a-holic…”

First-Draft has obtained exclusive video of the Barbara Morgan/TPM interview…

I’m sure I’ve told this story a thousand times, but it’s one that sticks with me as a cautionary tale. When I was a TA at one of my institutes of higher learning, several folks were making noise to get TA pay raised. As someone who would have taught for free and was working several jobs, I tried my best to stay out of.

One day, I was sitting in the office when the head of the money movement came in and began demanding that I sign a letter showing support for her ideals. After several polite refusals and her persistent badgering, she left.

At this point, I turned to my officemate and let lose with a series of profanities about this woman and how she needed to get a life and/or another job if she was so broke. He politely listened to me until I had exhausted my oxygen and then said, “You realize that’s my fiancĂ©e you’re talking about.”

Shit.

At that point, I was screwed, so I apologized but nothing was ever the same again. I realized that when you let words out of your head, there are ramifications, regardless of what you were thinking when you let them out.

This is, obviously, a lesson Barbara Morgan is learning this week as well, although to be fair, she probably should have known better.

A top aide in the Anthony Weiner campaign for mayor, Morgan was talking to a Talking Points Memo journalist about an unrelated story when the subject of Olivia Nuzzi came up. The former intern for the Weiner campaign had just released a “tell-all” story to the New York Daily News in which she trashed the campaign, noted that most interns just took the job to get close to Weiner’s wife and demeaned Morgan as someone who lacked a strong political resume.

As if on cue, Morgan decided to prove the point by telling TPM that Nuzzi was a “slutbag,” a “twat” and “a bitch.” And those were the nice descriptors. She spent several minutes railing on Nuzzi as a lazy and shiftless volunteer who begged to be part of the campaign and then failed to actually do anything of value. She also noted that she tried to fire Nuzzi, but that Nuzzi begged for her job.

There are several things that seem to be easy “takeaways”from this.

First, the non-disclosure agreements that interns sign don’t seem to have much impact when it comes to keeping interns quiet. Chances are, if you’re a power-hungry political animal like most of these kids perceive themselves to be, you’re not going to be dissuaded from a shit-rip like this by a piece of paper they signed just to get the job.

Second, if a kid goes off the reservation, it’s pretty clear that the worst thing to do is get into a shit-fight with him or her in the media. In this day and age, being stenographers of “BUT SHE STARTED IT!” seems to be the golden ticket to journalism and fame, so feeding into the fire isn’t really a great idea.

Third, and this is where I start to really wonder, how in the hell does a professional political operative let this happen to herself? Her defense was that she thought she was off the record, which is complete and total bullshit. Anyone who took a journalism-law class, worked with the press or was breathing when the movie “The Paper” was out knows how this works. Off the record is an agreed upon contract between a journalist and a source. They BOTH have to say, “Yes we are off the record” and then define what that means (How do I refer to you in the story? Is this something I can use or are we on deep background? Etc.). I somehow doubt that during the middle of an interview on a completely unrelated topic, Morgan would see the shift to this question about Nuzzi, engage in the step-by-step process of going off the record and then proceed to rip Nuzzi to shreds. If she didn’t know she was on the record, I don’t know how she’d ever know she’d be off the record at any other point.

The purpose of off-the-record comments is to create a safe space for journalists and sources to exchange important information that can’t be attributed to the source, but should lead to an important story. In other words, we’re talking “Deep Throat” not “slutbag.” Why anyone would decide to go off the record to set the world’s record for using synonyms for “whore” is beyond me.

Furthermore, even if it WERE all off the record, is this really something anyone should be saying in the first place? I mean, DEAR GOD, what possible good could come out of a conversation with a journalist in which the word “cunt” was used? It reminds me of the Woody Hayes line about passing the football: Three things can happen and two of them are bad. The one good thing? It could distract people from worse shit going on in “Weinerworld.” Other than that, Morgan has no hope of finding a silver lining in any of this.

Perhaps the greatest irony of all this is the line Morgan uttered with the least amount of obscenities:

“Man, see if you ever get a job in this town again.”

2 thoughts on ““On the record? No comment. Off the record? She’s a cum-guzzling felch-a-holic…”

  1. Athenae says:

    Reaching for cunt right off the bat is just lazy. Work up to cunt. I don’t mind if you get there, but it shouldn’t be where you START.
    A.

  2. adrastos says:

    After Morgan’s hissy fit, Dave Weigel posted about having met Olivia Nuzzi a year ago:
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/07/31/olivia_nuzzi_is_not_just_the_former_weiner_intern.html

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