(CN) – A CNN contributor fed questions to the Clinton campaign ahead of a debate this year, according to Wikileaks’ latest revelations, which indicate it wasn’t the only time members of the media have colluded with the Democratic nominee’s team during the election cycle.
“Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the people of Flint,” Donna Brazile wrote to both Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign’s director of communications.
The subject line for the email read: “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.”
It was sent on March 5, 2016, a day before Clinton debated U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in Flint, Michigan. It is not the first time Brazile, who was a CNN contributor while she served as vice president of the Democratic National Committee, has been shown to be tipping the Clinton camp as to debate questions.
A week later, Brazile sent an email to Palmieri divulging a question about the death penalty would be asked at an upcoming Clinton-Sanders debate.
“Here’s one that worries me about HRC,” she wrote in an email titled “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” In the email Brazile pledges to send more of the questions along.
Brazile resigned from CNN on Oct. 14, citing her new responsibilities as the president on the DNC while stridently denying allegations that she tipped the Clinton camp.
Nevertheless, CNN issued a statement through spokeswoman Lauren Pratapas saying the network accepted Brazile’s resignation as a contributor in mid-October and denied playing any part in Brazile’s actions.
“CNN never gave Brazile access to any questions, prep material, attendee list, background information or meetings in advance of a town hall or debate,” Pratapas said. “We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor.”
While telling Clinton staffers that a question about the lead pipes situation in Flint would be asked during a debate held in Flint isn’t exactly an earth-shattering insight, Brazile’s conduct, if true, certainly violated journalistic ethics.
Brazile tweeted today: “Thank you CNN. Honored to be a Democratic strategist and commentator on the network. Godspeed to all my former colleagues.”
For many critics of both the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media, the Brazile scandal is a suggestion of a much larger issue.
One of the emails entails discussion of a cocktail party held by Joel Beneson, a political consultant who works with the Clinton campaign and previously served on the campaign teams that helped President Barack Obama ascend to the White House.
Sent on April 5, 2015 — about a week before Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president — the email contains an attachment that shows a list of national reporters invited to the event.
The purpose, as outlined in the memo, was to set reporters’ expectations as to the campaign announcement and launch while attempting to frame Clinton’s message and candidacy.
For some, these style of events are routine matters for a campaign that will have to work closely with members of the press over the next two years. But for critics, a cocktail party at a swanky enclave in Manhattan for a gaggle of media players shows that reporters are too cozy with the people on whom they are supposed to report, hold accountable and critique.
The list included Diane Sawyer and George Stephanoplous of ABC news, Mark Halperin with Bloomberg, Brianna Keilar and Jeff Zeleny of CNN, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Glenn Thrush of Politico, and Amy Chozik and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times.
Haberman’s name came up in a staff memo in January 2015, as the Clinton campaign strategized about how to roll out their fledgling campaign.
“We are all in agreement that the time is right place a story with a friendly journalist in the coming days that positions us a little more transparently while achieving the above goals,” Clinton’s press secretary Nick Merrill wrote to several staffers. “We have has a very good relationship with Maggie Haberman of Politico over the last year. We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed.”
Clinton staffers also discussed feeding information to reporters they believe to be friendly to their candidate and their position as they were troubleshooting during the private server email scandal that even now continues to roil the campaign.
“They do not plan to release anything publicly, so no posting online or anything public-facing, just to the committee,” Merrill wrote when the scandal first broke. “That said, they are considering placing a story with a friendly at the AP (Matt Lee or Bradley Klapper) that would lay this out before the majority on the committee has a chance to realize what they have and distort it.”
Critics call this a major breach of journalistic ethics, while others contend this stuff is minor in comparison to how Fox News reporters and other media members that lean right have conspired with and covered Donald Trump’s campaign.
Nevertheless, in an email dated just weeks after attending the cocktail party, Politico’s Thrush shared a portion of the story he wrote about the Clinton campaign with Podesta.
Thrush has since claimed he does this with all his sources in an attempt to verify the veracity of his reporting, but it is odd for reporters to share an entire story with sources before publication. While making allowances for following up and making sure of the accuracy of quotes, many journalistic institutions forbid what Thrush claimed is his standard practice.
FILE – In this July 25, 2016 file photo, Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, appears on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
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