Once a dark art, opposition research comes out of the shadows for 2016 campaigns
By Evan Halper
A man attempts to block a political operative’s video camera as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker meets in Washington with members of Congress, K Street representatives and GOP donors. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Joe Biden was not the only one who found himself in crisis when a videotape emerged during the 1988 presidential primary exposing him as a plagiarist.The political operatives who had secretly distributed footage of Sen. Biden passing off the words of a British politician as his own also had a big problem on their hands.
Their disclosure nearly derailed the candidacy of the rival the operatives worked for, Michael S. Dukakis. He fired them and issued a major mea culpa.
Don’t expect any such apologies in this year’s presidential race.
Political opposition research, once a mostly unmentioned dark art, has turned into a garish, multimillion-dollar enterprise complete with logos, marketing strategies and indiscriminate, real-time streaming of the work product onto social media.