The Press: How to Keep a Secret

In the complex world of Washington press relations, politicians have three unofficial ways of talking to newsmen. Statements are classified as "off the record" (nothing may be reported), "not for attribution" (everything may be reported and the source generally described but not named) and "for background only" (no source may be referred to at all).

Last week in a "not-for-attribution" speech before a Washington meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Vice President Richard M. Nixon fell afoul of these journalistic niceties. As soon as he finished his speech, reporters crowded around, asked Nixon if they could pin his words on...

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