CNN should investigate Brazile providing questions to Team Clinton

Donna Brazile, CNN commentator

For a media that will somehow emerge from this election season much worse in the eyes of the American public than before it began, Tuesday was the decided low point.

A WikiLeaks email dump of just one person’s account — Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta — shows just how corrupt and compromised our media is today.

Exhibit A is former CNN contributor Donna Brazile, currently on a temporary friendly suspension from the network after taking over as Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman following the humiliating resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz during the Democratic National Convention in July. As you recall, Wasserman Schultz was forced to step down after a separate WikiLeaks email dump showed top levels of the DNC were actively attempting to take down the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

In a March 12 email sent to Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri with the subject header: “From time to time I get questions ahead of time,” Brazile — then at CNN — shares a question about the death penalty that she described as “worrying her.”

The next night, March 13, a question with a similar theme is asked during a CNN/TV One town hall by co-moderator Roland Martin. CNN’s Jake Tapper served as the other moderator for the event featuring Clinton and Sanders.

So here’s the question about the questions: How exactly did they get into Brazile’s hands? She wasn’t involved in the event in any capacity.

Another question: Will CNN conduct an internal investigation into the matter? In Brazile’s own words, she gets questions in advance from time to time.

Translation: By her admission, she’s been given questions for CNN town halls more than once, or however one cares to define “from time to time.”

CNN hasn’t responded yet to The Hill about whether an internal investigation will be conducted at the network, only sharing a statement that went out to any media inquiries on the matter that it “never, ever shared a town hall question beforehand.”

Martin told CNN media reporter Brian Stelter that his questions “were shared with his executive producer and several members” of his TV One team. He did not respond to a follow-up question asking if he shared the questions with Brazile.

“Like I told all others [news outlets]: I came up with my questions; sent them to my EP; who sent them to CNN; and shared them with my NewsOneNow team,” Martin tells The Hill.

For her part, Brazile said in a statement that she “never had access to questions and would never share them with candidates” if she did. Her email with its blaring subject header to the exact contrary appears to contradict that.

Will the DNC do anything here? Of course not. Unlike in the Wasserman Schultz scandal, there aren’t throngs of Bernie supporters around to demand accountability. And a mostly apathetic media more focused on the career prospects of Billy Bush will certainly will provide the usual pass as well.

It makes one wonder what the reaction would be if a Fox News analyst or opinion host and Donald Trump supporter Sean Hannity were caught today passing along presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace’s questions to Trump before the Oct. 19 event. That’s exactly what Brazile did here — who really knows how often this has happened in the past?

A few more questions: If Brazile has access to questions from time to time — again, her words — does Paul Begala have the same access, who runs a pro-Clinton super PAC? Does Ana Navarro, a Jeb Bush supporter and one of Trump’s harshest critics?

An internal investigation and some actual attempts at accountability would go a long way in solving this obvious breach. Remember, an internal investigation was conducted by the law firm of Paul, Weiss soon after the Roger Ailes sexual harassment suit by Gretchen Carlson over at Fox News. Will CNN do the same? Will anyone else in media outside of this space even demand one?

This plays out in one of two ways:

A) CNN informs Brazile she’s no longer welcome back at the network and proceeds to hire an outside firm to dig into this situation to find the culprit or culprits.

B) The network ignores it, and by doing so, tacitly states it has no issue with collusion between its employees and presidential campaigns.

That’s the choice.

We hear complaints about media bias and collision all the time these days. There’s a reason why just 6 percent of Americans — according to an Associated Press survey — have high confidence in the media.

But until this thing called accountability in the name of integrity is applied and those found guilty of collusion lose their jobs permanently or via suspension, nothing will change.

In fact, it’s only somehow going to get worse.

Concha is a media reporter for The Hill

The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill
Tags 2016 presidential election Bernie Sanders CNN Democratic Party Donald Trump Hillary Clinton journalistic ethics Republican Party town hall United States

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