Recent emails released by Wikileaks revealed that Donna Brazile, Democratic political strategist-turned CNN contributor-turned DNC chairwoman, leaked debate questions to the Clinton campaign during the primaries. One such email is titled “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash." CNN has announced Brazile's resignation, but outrage has nonetheless ensued over the collaboration between a member of the media and a political campaign. To this, Bob responds: this should not come as a surprise. How can media outlets purposely hire partisan consultants for their "insider" viewpoints and not imagine that they will act like insiders?
"The Liberty Bell (march)" by John Philip Sousa
BOB GARFIELD: In other repulsive cynicism news –
DONNA BRAZILE: You know, as a Christian woman I understand persecution but I will not sit here and be persecuted because your information is totally false. What you’re – what you are telling the American people –
MEGYN KELLY: I'm getting it from Podesta's email.
DONNA BRAZILE: What, what you’re – what, what you – well, Podesta's emails were stolen! You're so interested in talking about stolen material –
MEGYN KELLY: So you deny it?
DONNA BRAZILE: - you're like a – you’re, you’re like a thief that wanna bring into the night the things that you found that was in the gutter.
BOB GARFIELD: Well, wasn’t that an awkward conversation between Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly and Democratic Party Chairperson – I mean, Clinton strategist, I mean CNN commentator, I mean, Donna Brazile? This week, CNN announced the Brazile had resigned her post there, but in that interview a couple of weeks ago Brazil still wasn't owning up to her crime, namely abusing her role as a CNN on-air talent to leak debate questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was an outrage, obviously, and, yes, people were outraged.
FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: CNN was completely uncomfortable with the hacked emails showing Brazile shared questions with the Clinton campaign before primary debates.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: Donna Brazile fed her questions in advance of at least two debates. That’s cheating.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: Why is why is Hillary not demanding that a person that cheated Bernie Sanders, head of the DNC, is not fired?
BOB GARFIELD: Yeah, all that. Also, if I might add a word of sophisticated contextualization, duh! So the scorpion stung the frog. Who saw that coming? Come on, it is the nature of a political operative to be political, not to be honest, not to be transparent, not to be fair, not to be truthful, not even to be illuminating, merely to confer advantage to her party, period, which is why Donna Brazile had no business being on CNN as a commentator, to begin with.
According to Politico, CNN President Jeffrey Zucker execusplained that, quote, “One bad apple doesn't ruin it for the entire process.” But that is exactly wrong. It is the process, the hiring of partisan consultants as supposedly knowledgeable insiders, that is rotten to the core. CNN and Fox and MSNBC enlist those partisans to sell their various bills of goods, whether it’s former Trump Campaign Chairman Corey Lewandowski spinning fantasy for the GOP candidate -
COREY LEWANDOWSKI: He’s doing well. He’s bringing those Republicans home. He's doing much better amongst the African-American community than Mitt Romney did or John McCain did. He’s doing well with his….
BOB GARFIELD: - or Democratic activist Van Jones decrying Trump’s dithering on accepting election results.
VAN JONES: Hillary Clinton, when you look at the fact checkers, she’s one of the most - honest politicians in America.
BOB GARFIELD: Or Trumpista Jeffrey Lord, offering a tinfoil hat scenario of voter fraud.
JEFFREY LORD: Just because I touch the button that says “Donald Trump” it doesn’t necessarily mean that it registers for Donald Trump.
BOB GARFIELD: Or former Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm or Obama strategist David Axelrod. What they have to say is politically preordained, a foregone conclusion and, therefore, not commentary at all. It is native advertising, falsely presented by CNN and the other cable news channels as opinion journalism. So yeah, Donna Brazile turned out to be a DNC mole in the very inner sanctum of CNN and also that scorpion on the frog’s back and also a “fox” in the hen house. Choose the nature metaphor of your choice. But spare me the surprise. The goal of such casting, after all, isn’t audience understanding of the news but ratings-driven spectacle. [LAUGHS] And who doesn't love an animal act, when what you're running is the circus?
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That’s it for this week’s show. On The Media is produced by Meara Sharma, Alana Casanova-Burgess, Jesse Brenneman, Paige Cowett, Micah Loewinger and Sara Qari. We had more help from Leah Feder. And our show was edited by our Executive Producer Katya Rogers. Our technical director is Jennifer Munson. Our engineer this week was Casey Holford. On the Media is a production of WNYC Studios. Brooke Gladstone will be back next week. I’m Bob Garfield.