CNN's Jeff Zucker thinks Donna Brazile's actions are "disgusting" and "unethical". Well, huh.
It seems he thinks so because some pundits have decide that Brazile was given questions by someone (some magical someone who evidently doesn't work for CNN, according to Zucker), in advance of one of CNN's rather anemic election events.
One would think that a news organization like CNN might actually take the time to make an in-depth investigation of the accusations against Donna Brazile. And perhaps even an internal investigation of its own people.
But not CNN. Zucker literally took emails stolen from Podesta, possibly edited, and then published at Wikileaks—all at face value.
I'm not a journalist, but this doesn't strike me as a journalistic viewpoint. Perhaps that's because CNN isn't about journalism anymore...it's about entertainment.
Let's do what CNN should have done. Let's take a closer look at the two emails containing questions that Brazile supposedly coerced out of someone to send to Podesta. I'm going to, for now, take the text at face value—that it hasn't been edited.
Before I continue, for those concerned about accessing the Clinton emails. I've not found any indication of malware when you access the text version of the emails. However, you do not want to access the emails in their .eml format. And access pages directly at Wikileaks at your own peril. I'll duplicate the text of the emails here.
On to the emails.
Deep Diving into the Brazile Emails: EMail Number One
Has anyone noticed that one of the Brazile emails (Wikileaks link) is a subsection of an existing thread, and we can't find the entire thread in Wikileaks? So we already know that this subsection of emails was deliberately pulled from a larger thread.
The text of the first email is:
Re: From time to time I get the questions in advance
Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer
but can share it.
Betsaida - can you send her answer on death penalty?
Sent from my iPhone
On Mar 12, 2016, at 4:39 PM, Donna Brazile
Here's one that worries me about HRC.
19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31
states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people
have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have
been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to
die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states
join the current list and abolish the death penalty?
Sent from Donna's I Pad. Follow me on twitter @donnabrazile
One would think that an investigative news source would be curious about why we're only given a subsection of an email thread. An investigative news source might even come to the conclusion that the reason why is because the entire thread would establish a completely different context for the text that is published. Too bad there are no investigative news people at CNN.
What's interesting is the reply from Clinton's person. She responded with a reply about sending Clinton's position on the death penalty. This is not the reaction of a person who is acknowledging receipt of a question in advance of a townhall meeting, but the response of a person providing a requested viewpoint.
It doesn't jive with the accusation of "cheating". It doesn't fit the narrative at all, but we can't tell what the narrative is because Wikileaks only published a subset of the thread. A subset we can't verify because of the *standing policy among the Democrats to neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of Wikileaks stolen emails.
A Flint Water Question in a Flint Townhall
The next email was about the Flint water.
One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash
Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint.
Folks, I did a service project today. It's so tragic. And what's worse, some homes have not been tested and it's important to encourage seniors to also get tested.
Sent from Donna's I Pad. Follow me on twitter @donnabrazile
This is seemingly a single email that received no acknowledgment. We're not even sure if it was ever read.
As for context on this email, we can safely assume that everyone in the entire country could have expected that a townhall being held in Flint, Michigan would include a question on the Flint water. So exactly why would Brazile seemingly compromise her integrity by slipping a question about Flint water to Clinton?
What we do know from this email, if it is accurate and hasn't been modified, is that Donna Brazile was in Flint at that time. She's also an experienced Democratic Party member who is used to canvassing, as well as establishing deep contacts with the community. I suspect that she actually had face-to-face contact with people who were picked to be in the Townhall audience, or who knew people picked to be in the audience.
There was nothing stopping Sanders' supporters from establishing the same level of contact and reach into the community. And taking to the same Townhall audience members if they crossed paths.
Regardless, we would hope everyone involved was intelligent enough to understand that a question about Flint water would be asked in Flint, Michigan. I will repeat what I said earlier: it makes no sense for Brazile to single out such an obvious question to send.
Wikileaks Alters Context
What do the emails prove? We really don't know, because we don't have the context.
The problem with the Wikileaks email dumps is that we don't know what's edited, but more importantly, we don't know what was left out of the dumps. The latter is actually more important because context is deliberately being excised from the emails. Context is not only removed, but the Media has, for the most part, followed blindly along with the Wikieaks supplied mindset.
An excellent example of this is the "dump the emails" email from Cheryl Mills to Podesta that Slate writer Jim Newell ably handled.
The Media has not done themselves proud by allowing Wikileaks to control so much of the message that they published. And I include CNN in that.
About That Disgusting Label
Jeff Zucker tosses around words like "disgusting" when he doesn't really know what's fact and fiction. And he does so while simultaneously excusing CNN from any culpability. I actually find that pretty disgusting myself.
Especially considering CNN's employ of Corey Lewandowski for "political commentary". That Lewandowski is still closely associated with the Trump campaign is well known. That his sole contribution to CNN seems to be that of Trump's pet parrot has been obvious. Yet oddly enough, Zucker doesn't seem to find this to be "disgusting" or "unethical".
Once upon a time, CNN was a good news source. Lately, the network doesn't know what it is. Sometimes it remembers that it's supposed to bringing us news, but most of the time, it tosses out the latest rumors and accusations without taking a break to ascertain whether what they're reporting is fact or fiction. I suppose this could put CNN into the entertainment category, except for the fact that it just isn't that entertaining.
All of the TV news shows have been guilty of being manipulated in their haste to be the firstest with the mostest this year, but CNN seems to have taken such behavior to an extreme.
That CNN parted ways with Donna Brazile is between it and her, though I thought that they had parted ways after she was appointed the head of the DNC. But the accusations leveled at her by Jeff Zucker, without Zucker addressing CNN's own actions, is the height of hypocrisy.
* This "neither confirm nor deny" policy may be frustrating to the Press, but it's a good policy. Democrats can't spend their entire time confirming or denying Wikileaks stolen email releases when they should be focused on the political races. That the Media is unhappy about their demands not being continually met is just part and parcel of one of the many failures of the Media this election year.
Note from author: this piece was inadvertently published while I was still writing it. I've since finished the piece and re-published it. Apologies for any confusion. Shelley