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We Need a Professional Linguist, Stat!

Yet another thing that is funny *because* it is so sad: it is very clear that we need a different word than "reporter" for people who write words that appear in the standard Washington DC press.

The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei writes:

Lobbyist Told Reporter of Nearly a Dozen Contacts With Bush: President Bush met lobbyist Jack Abramoff almost a dozen times over the past five years and invited him to Crawford, Tex., in the summer of 2003, according to an e-mail Abramoff wrote to a reporter.... Bush "has one of the best memories of any politicians I have ever met," Abramoff wrote to Kim Eisler of Washingtonian magazine. "The guys saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids."... Eisler confirmed the contents of the e-mail and said he recently provided portions of it to the liberal Web log ThinkProgress because he thought he was dealing with a fellow reporter. The blog posted the contents of the Abramoff-Eisler communication.

In the e-mail, Abramoff scoffs at Bush's public statements that he does not recall ever meeting the disgraced lobbyist and former top Bush fundraiser. "Of course he can't recall that he has a great memory!" Abramoff wrote. Eisler, an editor for Washingtonian, said in the interview that the lobbyist was the source of his exclusive report last month that at least five photographs of Bush with Abramoff exist. Abramoff showed him the pictures, Eisler said....

Bush has said he does not recall ever meeting Abramoff or posing for pictures with the Republican lobbyist at official events or parties. The White House has refused to release the pictures or detail Abramoff's contacts with top White House officials over the past five years. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday that "what the president said still stands."... McClellan said that... it would not be unusual for the president to not recall meeting Abramoff."Perhaps he has forgotten everything," Abramoff wrote in the e-mail. "Who knows?"

Eisler said Abramoff did not grant him permission to release the contents of their e-mail and Abramoff is upset that Eisler did. Eisler, who described himself as sympathetic to Abramoff's situation, was trying to show the ThinkProgress reporter that Abramoff was not exaggerating his relationship with Bush.... Eisler's wife, Judy Sarasohn, covers lobbying issues for The Washington Post.

So, let's summarize: Eisler showed the emails to the ThinkProgress reporter, and is now upset because the reporter reported on them. Eisler assumed--based on his past experience with reporters--that the ThinkProgress reporter would not report what he saw, but would at most hint and shade his paragraphs in a pro-Abramoff direction. Moreover, reporter Jim VandeHei does not find this at all strange--that Eisler and Abramoff feel betrayed because a reporter actually reported, and thus violated their expectations (based on lots of experience) that you can show something very interesting to a reporter and count on that reporter not reporting it.

I'm out of my depth here: we need a professional linguistic consultant immediately. Clearly we can't keep calling them "reporters" if the default expectation in their community is well-represented by Jim VandeHei. What should we call them?

But it is funny.