Oppo Research Makes BillionsJoe Pounder
Sunday’s episode of Billions on Showtime featured prominently the self-vetting process in opposition research. To recap, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhodes is contemplating a run for statewide office and his major political backer has insisted that he sit down with oppo researcher George Minchak (guest star Mary-Louise Parker). While the topics they discuss can seem juvenile at times (or very serious at others), the self-vetting process is as important as Billions makes it sound. Whether it is political candidates, potential appointees to the administration or corporate executives, self-vetting ensures that they know all their potential vulnerabilities before the other side does. Good preparation for any political or corporate fight is key and vetting is a part of that.
While a self-vet may not be as intrusive as the process in Billions, Definers does recommend that potential targets sit down with researchers. That part from last night’s episode is very real. And after having listened to the target explain their history,the researcher can gather far more insight into possible threats than from basing off publicly available info.
Once the research process is complete, the hardest part of the self-vet is at the end where you have to reel off to the research subject all the reasons why they are terrible. There are some awkward moments.
That said, the most surprising aspect to self-vetting is how often candidates and corporate executives are not like Chuck Rhodes and don’t prepare beforehand. If in doubt, do what Chuck did and prepare.