As the presidential election fades into the rearview mirror, one fact should haunt fair minded Americans everywhere – our national media horribly misreported the race and betrayed readers by secretly working hand-in-glove with the Clinton campaign against both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Good unblinking journalism took a vacation in 2016. Shame on the New York Times and the Washington Post, to name the two most prominent offenders.
Consider these emails released by Wikileaks:
• Maggie Haberman formerly of Politico and now with the New York Times. Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman wrote: “We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed.” If a campaign says they’ve never been disappointed in the work of a journalist covering them, then it is safe to say that that reporter wasn’t doing a very good job for readers.
• New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich sent Clinton campaigner Jennifer Palmieri portions of his interview with Hillary seeking the “option to use the following” parts of his interview. Palmieri edited the interview for him. Mr. Leibovich emailed back: “Pleasure doing business.” That story should have carried an editor’s note reading: “This story was edited and pre-approved by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
• Boston Globe senior staffer Marjorie Pritchard offered overly friendly advice on how Clinton could best coordinate an op-ed piece with Globe news coverage. “It would be good to get it in on Tuesday, when she is in New Hampshire,” Pritchard told the Clinton campaign. “That would give her a big presence on Tuesday with the piece and on Wednesday with the news story. Please let me know.” Report the news, Ms. Pritchard, don’t coordinate the news for the benefit of one political campaign.
• A Washington Post reporter was persuaded by Clinton aide Christina Reynolds to do a critical story about Cindy McCain, Sen. John McCain’s wife. Paul Begala wrote Reynolds that “this was truly outstanding! Great work!” Whoa. So who decides stories at the WashPo — editors or the Clinton campaign?
• Writer John Harwood, a CNBC correspondent and a New York Times contributor, maintained a chummy (and almost staff-like) email conversation with Clinton campaign head John Podesta. He once offered this advice to the campaign: “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general (election). He attached video of an interview he did with Carson. How Mr. Harwood became a debate moderator is scary given this kind of behavior. He should never get the honor again.
• CNN contributor Donna Brazile (and now acting head of the Democratic National Committee) tipped off the Clinton campaign to questions that were to be asked in a debate with Bernie Sanders. “From time to time I get the questions in advance,” she wrote to the campaign, then told the campaign to be ready for a question on the death penalty. CNN parted ways with Brazile after the revelation. She’s still with the DNC, which should tick off fair-minded Democrats everywhere.
It’s all ugly stuff. Not every reporter, of course, sold their pen during the campaign. But not everyone got caught by Wikileaks, either.
Let’s not sugarcoat it: Our national media did an awful job in the last presidential campaign. Is it really asking too much for journalists to keep an arm’s length from a political campaign?
GOOSE & GANDER
And while we’re pointing out deficiencies in the American press, let’s make one more quick point.
Donald Trump has been president elect for a little over 40 days and virtually every big national media outlet has reported in critical fashion the fact that he has not attended all of the intelligence briefings offered him.
“Trump not very interested in intelligence briefings” – USA Today.
“Trump has attended only two intelligence briefings” – NBC News.
I’m fine with that reporting. Intelligence briefings seem important. And, I want to know whether the president-elect attends them.
Yet, where were those red-ant reporters with President Obama?
A new report says President Obama skipped daily intelligence briefings 56 percent of the time a president. Why are we only finding out now? There’s media angst with the president-elect and not with the actual president?
C’mon, gatekeepers. This is hair of the freakin’ dog that bit you during the campaign. Give us the news consistently and fairly. We can do the math from there.
(Sherman Frederick is a founder of Battle Born Media. He is a longtime Nevadan and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)