Documents Wanted!

Announcing a new Slate feature.

You may have noticed that “Chatterbox,” the column I’ve been writing since 1998, has tapered off. That’s because I’ve been preparing to launch a new Slate feature called “Document of the Day.” The column will be a sort of cross between The Smoking Gun, the Harper’sAnnotation” feature, and the Washington Monthly’s late, lamented “Memo of the Month,” combined with certain elements all our own that company scientists are still developing at our state-of-the-art laboratory facility in Huntsville, Ala. Barring a severe industrial accident, “Document of the Day” will debut in early March.

What I need from you, dear reader, is documents. White House memos, wiretap transcripts, financial disclosure forms, college transcripts, wills, e-mails, police reports, pending regulations, expense account filings—anything sufficiently piquant to interest the lay public. I’m especially interested in documents that have not previously been made public, but I won’t exclude from consideration interesting documents that the public has overlooked. I’m just as interested in government documents as I am in documents from the private sector. I intend to define “documents” as broadly as possible, so that it would include, say, a particularly asinine instruction manual or a particularly cowardly liability waiver for some consumer product, or an especially interesting billboard, or something telling that’s been scribbled in the margin of a book.

The success of this column will depend entirely on the quality of the material I’m able to scare up. I’ll be beating the bushes, but any help readers can provide will be greatly appreciated. If you have a document that you think would be of interest to strangers, please alert me at Write “tip” in the subject line, leave a phone number where you can be reached, and indicate whether you want to be credited publicly for unearthing the document. I’ll assume that anyone who doesn’t indicate either way prefers to remain anonymous. Please state where you got the document; if you’re cagey about that, I won’t use it. We won’t run any documents whose provenance is unknown.

As for my Chatterbox column, it will be preserved in the same cryogenic warehouse where Ted Williams currently resides. It can be reanimated, like Mel Gibson in Forever Young, or cloned, like Michael Keaton in Multiplicity, or destroyed, like the dictator’s nose in Sleeper, as needed. But you won’t see new entries for a while.