PART 3 OF 3
Scandal? What Scandal?— Look what WikiLeaks dragged in—-
One email shows Donna Brazile, then working as a CNN commentator, emailing Podesta and Palmieri the day before a March 13 Democratic primary debate hosted by CNN with the subject heading: “From time to time, I get the questions in advance.” Brazile writes, “Here’s one that worries me about HRC,” and proceeds to lay out a detailed question Clinton will be asked about the death penalty. The next day at the debate, Clinton was asked that question, virtually word for word, by CNN’s Roland Martin. Brazile flatly denied a leak: “I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did,” she said. But CNN media reporter Brian Stelter contacted Roland Martin, and he did not exactly back up Brazile’s denial. Martin admitted sharing debate questions with others at CNN and his staff. “When asked in a followup question if he would explicitly rule out any sharing of questions with Brazile, Martin did not respond,” reports Stelter
Iin July revealed Politico‘s chief investigative reporter Ken Vogel sharing a full draft of a pending story with the DNC’s press secretary; an embarrassed Politico made it clear that it was against their editorial policy to share stories with sources before publication.)
The New York Times‘s Mark Leibovich, best known for writing This Town, a gossipy tome about Washington’s venal culture, also figures prominently in the Podesta emails. He is described by Clinton staffer Milia Fisher in the emails as “sympathetic,” though “accommodating” might be more accurate. Leibovich wrote a lengthy profile of Clinton for the New York Times Magazine, and before it was published reached out to Palmieri to vet the quotes he wanted to use. The Clinton campaign nixed two, a lame aside about Sarah Palin “cooking up some moose stew” and another where Hillary Clinton notes that “gay rights has moved much faster than women’s rights or civil rights, which is an interesting phenomenon somebody in the future will unpack.”
“Citing Times policy, reporters should say no if a source demands, as a condition of an interview, that quotes be submitted afterward to the source or a press aide to review, approve or edit.”
Media sycophancy is sprinkled throughout the emails. See, for instance, the email from MSNBC producer Sheara Braun in April of last year, begging for a guest to appear on All In with Chris Hayes: “The point isn’t to dwell on the past”—the past presumably being the email scandal that had just broken—”but the point is to talk about this amazing, intelligent woman who probably faced more nonsense back in the day because she is a woman . . . and she continues to have to face it. She is smarter than most men and more qualified than most men to be president,” she says. What’s truly remarkable is that this groveling wasn’t aimed at securing an appearance by Hillary—it was a request to get Clinton friend and former flack Lisa Caputo on the show to blather about (in this case) millennial support for Clinton’s candidacy.
But at least Braun’s flattery was aimed at getting something in return. The Podesta emails also show John Harwood, of the New York Times and CNBC, sending Podesta all manner of complimentary emails—well, just because. In July of last year, Harwood sent out a Tweet that read, “if there’s any specific/plausible suggestion of nefarious email @HillaryClinton was trying to hide, I haven’t heard it.” He then emailed that tweet to Podesta to make sure the campaign saw it. Later that month, when the Clinton campaign wrote a letter to the editor attacking the New York Times‘s coverage of the email scandal, Harwood sent Podesta a note that simply said, “good letter.” He wrote to praise Clinton’s TV appearances. Harwood bragged to Podesta that the GOP was “veering off the rails. I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I questioned Trump at our debate.”
And this only scratches the surface—there are lots of emails that raise all manner of questions about how the Beltway media operate. It’s undeniable that the Clinton campaign views reporters as pawns to be used (and who want to be used). While there’s no actual suggestion the New York Times‘s Maggie Haberman has done anything wrong, one wonders why the Clinton campaign says, “we have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed.”
Only CNN’s Jake Tapper—who coincidentally was the only reporter to ask Clinton about the Arkansas state flag—comes off looking good. “Why is Jake Tapper such a d—?” asks Palmieri. Tapper posted a copy of the email on Twitter and replied, “It’s a question that has confounded millions of people for hundreds of years.”
In one exchange with Podesta, Bill Ivey, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts under Bill Clinton, frets that “we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.” If you want proof of what a problem this has become, consider the fact that Hillary Clinton is poised to enter the White House in January—and she’s presumably going to take Podesta, Palmieri, Blumenthal, and the rest of the sordid gang along with her.
Hillary Clinton needed a miracle, and the American media did their part to deliver. In addition to at least $2 billion in free airtime during Trump’s nascent candidacy, a study done at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government earlier this year concluded that coverage of Trump in the Republican primary by CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post was overwhelmingly positive. Of course, that was then.
Meanwhile, if you’re concerned about the impending presidency of Hillary Clinton, you’re at the mercy of Russian hackers to apply scrutiny. Otherwise, you have to trust CNN, Politico, the New York Times, and NBC to report damning Clinton revelations that also suggest CNN, Politico, the New York Times, and NBC can’t be trusted to report on Clinton fairly.
If the media were always dogged and thorough in their reporting on Trump, Clinton, and Obama, American politics would have a lot less sensational information to offer WikiLeaks. But don’t expect the media to contemplate what the emergence of WikiLeaks might say about their shortcomings. It’s not that they haven’t mentioned Podesta’s emails at all—they’ve just done so with a certain bloodlessness. They’ve made precious little effort to connect the dots, follow the leads, or otherwise do the kind of big-picture analysis that stories like this typically receive. Reading between the lines, it’s not hard to detect a common thread. Every one of the stories on the Podesta email leaks seems to be saying the same thing: What scandal?
source–wikileaks, mark hemingway, national review, jim geraghty, cheryl mills, nyt, huma, neera tanden, think progress, new republic, michael froman, david dayen, john halpin, robby mook, dan schwerin, jennifer palmieri, sayeed farouk, chris hayes, msnbc, brent budowsky, cnn, brain stelter, mark leibovich, milia fisher, lisa caputo, sheara braun, hohn haywood, maggie haberman, bill ivey,