In the old days when political parties dug up dirt on an opponent, they would often leak it to a friendly reporter.
Then it would be broadcast or published as an exclusive story.
This sometimes brought glory to the media outlet while driving the target crazy.
Nowadays, it's an entirely different world.
We're in an era when parties prefer spending gazillions on negative ads to malign their competition.
Examples include the brutal messages that destroyed the NDP's Adrian Dix and the federal Liberals' Stéphane Dion.
The Conservatives have tried the same tactic against Justin Trudeau, but so far, it doesn't appear to be working.
Maybe the public's getting wise to these types of smears.
Another method is finding a friendly website or blogger to disseminate the information and hope that media outlets follow.
It's a way for parties to distance themselves from the dirty deed.
We don't know how the Broadbent Institute dug up a signed 1999 editorial from NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe. In it, he defended the Hamilton Spectator's decision not to publish a photo of two men kissing.
This hit on LaPointe occurred on the eve of Pride weekend when it would have maximum impact.
We don't know if Vision Vancouver is digging through the archives of the Hamilton Spectator or if the Broadbent Institute decided on its own to do this. It's plausible that someone at the Broadbent Institute might have even remembered the editorial.
It's equally plausible that someone from Vision Vancouver found the article and forwarded it to the Broadbent Institute's Press Progress to disseminate it more broadly.
It's conceivable that this is how this story ended up in the Vancouver media.
We do know that a former senior campaign worker for Gregor Robertson, Mira Oreck, runs the Vancouver office of the Broadbent Institute.
Today, she told the Georgia Straight that she has no editorial control over Press Progress. That's the Broadbent Institute division that sent out the article on the Hamilton Spectator editorial.
We know that once the Broadbent Institute's article appeared online, Vision Vancouver officials were quick to get it before as many eyeballs as possible through Twitter and email.
I would like to know how Press Progress discovered this editorial from the Hamilton Spectator in 1999.
Was it sent to the institute by someone on the payroll of Vision Vancouver?
Or is the Ontario-based Broadbent Institute conducting opposition research on behalf of Vision Vancouver?
Because if the Broadbent Institute is doing Vision Vancouver's opposition research, there's a legitimate question whether this work is going to be declared by the party as a donation-in-kind.
Make no mistake—this work by the Broadbent Institute was purely political and designed to advance the interests of Vision Vancouver.
If Vision Vancouver discovered the editorial on its own and sent it to the Broadbent Institute with the purpose of tweeting and retweeting it afterward, it raises another question.
Why wouldn't Vision Vancouver simply disseminate this editorial in a news release and put its name to it?
Is it because Vision Vancouver felt that if it did this, it would be accused of taking the low road?
I have a hunch that there's more to this story than meets the eye.