I'm a big fan of Josh Marshall's political reporting at Talking Points Memo, but he makes a rookie mistake in a reader email he quotes this morning. MB, a regular correspondent on Wall Street matters, offers this bit of advice to Marshall:
I know you raised some money from Marc Andreesen. I would bet Marc's fund and Bain Capital have some investor overlap. I'm sure you've already made that call, but I bet that Marc has no love lost for Romney as Marc is truly in the "job creation" business whereas Romney is a "financial engineer/takeover artist." Also, the more recent Bain funds have not performed as well as they did when Romney was there (but are still successful). Bain charges some of the highest fees to investors in the industry (in part because of their track record of success under Romney). I wonder if you dug around you could find a disgruntled limited partner or two in the Bain funds who'd be willing to be your [source] on this issue or on the industry in general.
This seems like a pretty good suggestion. If more people at Bain would be privy to knowledge about Romney's taxes than just his accountants, the chances of finding one of them to confirm or deny Sen. Harry Reid's allegation are greater. Marshall's relationship with TPM investors gives him some phones to work in pursuit of the story.
But what happens in the next three months if Talking Points Memo breaks a huge scoop from an undisclosed source with inside knowledge of Bain?
Everyone's going to think it was Marc Andreesen -- or someone Andreesen told Marshall to call.
Marshall has managed to burn a source who didn't even tell him anything yet.