Columnist Bob Novak was famous for saying, “In this town, you’re either a source or a target.”
In this regard, it’s pretty clear which roles were assigned to whom in Game Change — the HBO movie based on the John Heilemann and Mark Halperin best-selling book: Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt were sources — thus, they were portrayed as heroes. And Sarah Palin was the target.
John Podhoretz agrees, writing:
…if ever you wanted circumstantial evidence that the sources within the McCain campaign who spent October 2008 dumping on Palin anonymously might have included Wallace and Schmidt, you need look no further than HBO’s Game Change. The movie presents a moral case for the disreputable conduct of aides who, we can presume, fearlessly drop dirty dimes anonymously to save their own standing in the liberal culture from which they desperately wish not to be excluded.
There is one other aspect to all of this that has not been fully discussed, and that is the implicit understanding that campaign staffers and advisers are, in a sense, like lawyers or a priests — someone entrusted to keep intimate details they learn through the natural course of their jobs — confidential.
It is implied that high-level staffers and aides are professionals — that part of their value is their discretion.
Of course, over time, it is expected that things will eventually leak out. But it usually takes years — sometimes it takes the death of the principal before things come out. In this instance, however, the leaks were occurring in real time — likely with the goal of currying media favor for the leakers.
Schmidt and Wallace, it seems, betrayed some unwritten rules of political operatives. Why should anyone trust them again?