Let us unpack this CYA from Mother Jones on the tape that they released today:
Update 4/Mother Jones Statement: We are still waiting for Sen. Mitch McConnell to comment on the substance of the article. Before posting, we contacted his Senate office and his campaign office—in particular, his campaign manager, Jesse Benton—and no one responded. As the story makes clear, we were recently provided with the tape by a source who wishes to remain anonymous. We published the article on the tape due to its obvious newsworthiness. We were not involved in the making of the tape, but it is our understanding that the tape was not the product of any kind of bugging operation. We cannot comment beyond that, except to say that under the circumstances, our publication of the article is both legal and protected by the First Amendment.
Background: MJ got its hands on an audio tape that had Mitch McConnell and his staff discussing how to make Ashley Judd regret that she had ever decided to run for office. They then published it, despite the fact that a) Ashley Judd effectively did publicly regret that she had ever decided to run for office and b) the information in the tape would hardly be a surprise to anybody familiar with political campaigns. But then there was a new wrinkle: Mitch McConnell called the FBI. Potential wiretap law violations, you understand.
Hence, the CYA. Reading between the lines… MJ apparently did not get the tape from a disgruntled McConnell staffer; if they had, they’d just say so. McConnell apparently did not order that the tape be leaked to MJ; if he had, he wouldn’t be asking the FBI for an investigation. That pretty much leaves either a scenario where a third party did leave a recording device in the room and collected it later, or somebody at the meeting taped it themselves and somebody else stole the recording later. In either one of those scenarios, whoever passed the audio to MJ is in BIG trouble.
Exit question: man, I betcha that MJ is suddenly a lot more sympathetic to that Fox News reporter protecting her source, huh?