Ever wonder where some big-name political reporters get their analysis and scoops?

Judging by emails pried from the State Department, they buy it from the politicians they cover by selling their integrity.

In a damning post today, Gawker uncovered a series of emails between The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder and Clinton spokesperson Philippe Reines.

Ambinder asks for an advance copy of a 2009 speech, Reines provides it with conditions that any respectable journalist would — or at the very least: should — answer with a string of obscenities.

Ambinder let the Clinton aide write his lede.

When you think of President Obama’s foreign policy, think of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That’s the message behind a muscular speech that Clinton is set to deliver today to the Council on Foreign Relations. The staging gives a clue to its purpose: seated in front of Clinton, subordinate to Clinton, in the first row, will be three potentially rival power centers: envoys Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell, and National Security Council senior director Dennis Ross.

In a phone interview with Gawker today, Ambinder takes responsibility for what he calls “transactional journalism.”

It made me uncomfortable then, and it makes me uncomfortable today. And when I look at that email record, it is a reminder to me of why I moved away from all that. The Atlantic, to their credit, never pushed me to do that, to turn into a scoop factory. In the fullness of time, any journalist or writer who is confronted by the prospect, or gets in the situation where their journalism begins to feel transactional, should listen to their gut feeling and push away from that.

Being scrupulous at all times will not help you get all the scoops, but it will help you sleep at night. At no point at The Atlantic did I ever feel the pressure to make transactional journalism the norm.

First of all, it’s not journalism. Ambinder, who now calls himself a “content strategist,” implies that the ethical problem posed was a complicated one. It’s not. You don’t let the people you’re covering write your stories.

[This post has been updated]

Your daily dose of bittersweetness today comes from the blizzard-weary land of Willmar, Minn., where the police department reports on its Facebook page that police officers shoveled a driveway after trying to save the life of an elderly man who had a heart attack while shoveling.

According to the department’s Facebook page:

That’s officers Josh Helgeson and Marco Vazquez.

The 84-year-old man didn’t have a pulse when Helgeson and Vazquez arrived, so they performed CPR and tried to revive him with a defibrillator. When an ambulance arrived a few minutes later, the officers helped load the man into the ambulance and then looked at the unshoveled driveway.

“So we decided to spend the taxpayers’ money shoveling for the next 10 minutes,” Officer Helgeson told me this afternoon.

The story doesn’t have a happy ending, however. The stricken man was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“It was probably the worst day of her life,” Helgeson said of the man’s wife, who has her own health problems and needed help getting in a friend’s car to get to the hospital. “The last thing she needed to worry about was a slippery driveway when she got home and had to deal with everything. It was the least we could do.”

“It’s just one of the things you do and you do it because you care about the people you work for in the city and it is what it is,” said Helgeson, a Wood Lake, Minn., native who says he didn’t even tell his wife about the incident. She saw it on Facebook like thousands of other people who are offering tributes to the officers.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

Photo: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

When Vince Lombardi said, “show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser,” it ended up in management text books.

Lombardi had a luxury that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton didn’t have when he sulked after losing the Super Bowl the other night, and stormed out of his postgame news conference.

Newton had the nerve to live Lombardi’s preach and he’s still paying a heavy price two days after the game.

Today, Newton addressed the issue and called out the columnists and talk-show crowd who’ve found an easy target.

“As far as trying to be like this person, trying to be like that person … the truth of the matter is I’m not trying to be like this person,” he said.

He’s talking about Peyton Manning, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

“Whether Newton has faced louder criticism as a result of his race has been a common topic throughout the NFL season. We can’t definitively state whether race played a role this time around. No one can, really,” Huffington Post writer Erick Fernandez wrote yesterday. “But it is worth noting that another quarterback once demonstrated poor sportsmanship after a Super Bowl loss as well, but didn’t face nearly as much criticism. His name is Peyton Manning.”

Scott Masini, the principal of St. Paul’s Bruce Vento Elementary School, has been in the education business a long time, but he’s never seen anything like the reaction he’s received since someone leaked his letter last week informing parents the school will no longer celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day.
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