Asks Larry O'Connor, looking into what Politico’s Glenn Thrush wrote to John Podesta (which was: "No worries Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I fucked up anything.")
The official Politico answer is: "Glenn has a self-deprecating sense of humor, one of the many blessings of being born and raised in Brooklyn."
I can buy that explanation, but it only goes so far. Self-deprecating humor works when it has at least some truth in it. But Thrush's statement makes sense as a way to extract more information from Podesta, reeling him in by making him think that Thrush will serve as his mouthpiece.
That's what journalists do, as Janet Malcolm brilliantly explained in her great book "The Journalist and the Murderer," which begins:
Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and “the public’s right to know”; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.
The catastrophe suffered by the subject is no simple matter of an unflattering likeness or a misrepresentation of his views; what pains him, what rankles and sometimes drives him to extremes of vengefulness, is the deception that has been practiced on him. On reading the article or book in question, he has to face the fact that the journalist—who seemed so friendly and sympathetic, so keen to understand him fully, so remarkably attuned to his vision of things—never had the slightest intention of collaborating with him on his story but always intended to write a story of his own. The disparity between what seems to be the intention of an interview as it is taking place and what it actually turns out to have been in aid of always comes as a shock to the subject.