WASHINGTON -- As Congress has increasingly injected itself into people's lives by randomly disrupting them for no obvious reason, interest in the minute-to-minute goings on of these strange chambers of democracy, as evidenced by Google analytics, is on the rise among the general public. For those of you just walking into the theater, we thought a quick primer on some of the coded language the Capitol Hill press corps uses might be useful.
You have surely noticed that story after story is powered by the musings of anonymous congressional aides, lawmakers and White House officials. Can you believe any of this? Yes. But it depends. To a non-initiated reader, the description of these anonymous creatures may appear to be quite random. But embedded within them are major giveaways about the reliability of the information being passed on, and how much credit you should give it. For example, if the author of the story you're reading is an experienced Capitol Hill reporter, the description of the source you're reading is likely the result of an explicit agreement between the source and the reporter.
As an official -- who shall remain anonymous -- once put it to Politico's Glenn Thrush: "On the record is where the truth goes to die. On background means I'm spinning. Off the record means I'm telling the truth." If only it were that simple. Here's our definitive guide to decoding anonyspeak:
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