Did Hillary aide “blackmail” reporter for advance look at speech?

posted at 4:41 pm on February 12, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Not really — but that’s not really the point, either. Earlier this week, Gawker uncovered an e-mail exchange between Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic (and now at The Week, where I am also a regular columnist) and Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines setting conditions for an advance look at a little-remembered Hillary Clinton speech in 2009. Reines demanded a particular tenor of coverage in exchange for the scoop — and Ambinder apparently agreed:

On the morning of July 15, 2009, Ambinder sent Reines a blank email with the subject line, “Do you have a copy of HRC’s speech to share?” His question concerned a speech Clinton planned to give later that day at the Washington, D.C. office of the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential think tank. Three minutes after Ambinder’s initial email, Reines replied with three words: “on two conditions.” After Ambinder responded with “ok,” Reines sent him a list of those conditions:

3 [conditions] actually

1) You in your own voice describe them as “muscular”

2) You note that a look at the CFR seating plan shows that all the envoys — from Holbrooke to Mitchell to Ross — will be arrayed in front of her, which in your own clever way you can say certainly not a coincidence and meant to convey something

3) You don’t say you were blackmailed!

“Blackmailed” here is clearly a jest. Reines wanted a quid pro quo for access — and Ambinder took the bait, replying with a terse “got it.” Gawker then links to Ambinder’s review of the speech for The Atlantic:

When you think of President Obama’s foreign policy, think of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That’s the message behind a muscular speech that Clinton is set to deliver today to the Council on Foreign Relations. The staging gives a clue to its purpose: seated in front of Clinton, subordinate to Clinton, in the first row, will be three potentially rival power centers: envoys Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell, and National Security Council senior director Dennis Ross.

The Daily Caller did some poking around and found remarkably similar reporting on the event:

Ambinder wasn’t the only person who may have followed demands from Reines. Mike Allen of Politico also used the “muscular” label for Clinton’s speech, and he also made a note of the arrangement of figures like Holbrooke and Ross. Allen taking orders from Reines wouldn’t be a huge shock, as it was recently revealed that Allen allowed Reines to ghostwrite an item in his popular daily Playbook email.

For his part, Ambinder apologized for his decision, and took total responsibility in his response to Gawker. “Since I can’t remember the exact exchange I can’t really muster up a defense of the art, and frankly, I don’t really want to,” he wrote. “I will say this: whatever happened here reflects my own decisions, and no one else’s.” Speaking to J.K. Trotter on the phone, Ambinder further elaborated, “It made me uncomfortable then, and it makes me uncomfortable today. And when I look at that email record, it is a reminder to me of why I moved away from all that. The Atlantic, to their credit, never pushed me to do that, to turn into a scoop factory.” Ambinder learned the lesson the hard way seven years ago, but his political leanings are well known and explicitly offered (Gawker notes his friendly correspondence with Reines on other topics, too).

Political journalists and commentators get lots of input from staffers for candidates and politicians, especially during elections, but at other times as well. Most of those come with requests for anonymity, but it’s pretty rare to have a demand for a particular kind of coverage in exchange for the information. Usually it takes the form of spin: “This really shows the muscularity of John Doe’s foreign policy, doesn’t it?”, with the obvious suggestion as to how the staffer wants it covered. When reporters go out looking for scoops, as Ambinder did here, the power balance shifts a bit, but it’s not incumbent on journalists or commentators to play along with it. Otherwise, one ends up taking dictation rather than offering honest analysis — and running the risk of appearing redundant, as happened in this case, especially when the “scoop” was so insignificant.

The most interesting part of this exchange is how much control the Clinton team attempts to exert over media coverage. How much of that is in play now? Do they still trade scoops for dictated coverage — perhaps in conjunction with the e-mail scandal or potential corruption involving the Clinton Foundation? They might have more valuable scoops to offer journalists in the context of a presidential campaign, and it would be very interesting indeed to see just how far that quid pro quo extends in the media.

Or, to put it more simply …. damn, it feels good to be a Clinton.


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Comments

The most interesting part of this exchange is how much control the Clinton team attempts to exert over media coverage.

You say Team Clinton control

I say media volunteering

antipc on February 12, 2016 at 4:50 PM

Hillary likes to sell influence. Whether it is friendly press coverage, or cold hard cash, she sells what she has. That was the whole reason she wanted the Secretary of State job. With her, ahem, charity, she knew she could get lots of, ahem, donations.

Look at her life. She married, as a feminist, a womanizer just to start her climb up the ladder. Selling her politics out, and ultimately her body, just to get into the governor mansion was the first thing she sold – that we know of.

And she has been selling ever since. She sold out American national security to get rich. She sold out her progressive politics to get checks from wall street. Now she sells out her speech transcripts to get favorable press blurbs.

She sells whatever she has to get whatever she wants. She is the ultimate political whore.

HugoDrax on February 12, 2016 at 4:52 PM

Blackmail you say??

Please! That’s Child’s Play when it comes to the Clintons..

Let me know when we get to some serious sh*t.

Ain’t that right tlaloc??

ToddPA on February 12, 2016 at 4:58 PM

It seems the leftoids have completely destroyed big journalism. Forget the blowhard Cronkite, liar Rather, and fraud Williamson. We have journalist, softball interviews with planted questions and articles written on demand.

They really are just an arm of the democrap party. How about some journalism reform. Fines for coordinating with campaigns… wait don’t we already have that. Where is the law?

Lonetown on February 12, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Seems like everything and everyone that woman touches comes away with slime and stench.

Deadeye on February 12, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Comments for this thread are now closed.

Ok…

We will not hesitate to defend our friends and ourselves vigorously when necessary with the world’s strongest military.

Ambassador Stevens would beg to differ.

unclesmrgol on February 12, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Psses me off.

Watch, this presstitute will go on as if nothing happened and the whole profession – even FOX and the “right” – will let him.
This is even worst the jornolisters because the subject of the coverage is allowed to do the actual writing.
But just like the the filthy jornolisters, the industry will turn a blind eye and all the “real” journalists will continue to cocktail and link to this disgrace , Armbinder – including the “conservative” ones.

The whole DC NYC media nexus is part of the corrupt democrat republican orgy – they are all sleeping with each other and servicing their DC master who are servicing their oligarch masters – right to left.
It’s a sewer and it’s participants, who now think they are golden, will be sewage in the end.

BoxHead1 on February 12, 2016 at 5:11 PM

The way the e-mails reads, it looks this is just a normal transaction between the Clinton camp and a journalist. Ambinder sure wasn’t troubled by it, he simply replied with “got it”.

HidetheDecline on February 12, 2016 at 5:11 PM

The most interesting part of this exchange is how much control the Clinton team attempts to exert over media coverage. How much of that is in play now?

Lots

Do they still trade scoops for dictated coverage — perhaps in conjunction with the e-mail scandal

Of course

or potential corruption involving the Clinton Foundation?

Especially.

They might have more valuable scoops to offer journalists in the context of a presidential campaign,

Ya think?

and it would be very interesting indeed to see just how far that quid pro quo extends in the media.

(laughs like a banshee)

leftamark on February 12, 2016 at 5:12 PM

ok… this thread was DOA.

Neitherleftorright on February 12, 2016 at 5:14 PM

The most interesting part of this exchange is how much control the Clinton team attempts to exert over media coverage.
======================================

Ya, BlackMail.

canopfor on February 12, 2016 at 5:14 PM

Prostitutes are honourable compared to journalists. They’re not pretending to be some kind of high-class intellectual. Journalists are worst scum then slip and fall lawyers. Never trust one if you meet them. A despicable profession if there ever was one.

BoxHead1 on February 12, 2016 at 5:17 PM

Most of the large, legacy media in this country have long since (at least as far back as FDR) decided to push and side with, progressives and leftist western socialism. (?)

Anyway, its pathetic how long, and how blatant, the cheerleading for the Democrats is and has been.

Yet here we are………same as it ever was.

Dick Richard on February 12, 2016 at 5:37 PM

MSM – whores. The only question is the price.

GarandFan on February 12, 2016 at 5:40 PM

Hey, isn’t that a BLUE dress the wicked witch of Chapaqua is wearing?
How droll.

Missilengr on February 12, 2016 at 5:42 PM

Does a bear shiat in the woods?????

Indiana Jim on February 12, 2016 at 5:51 PM

Tiaioc. Meh.

Indiana Jim on February 12, 2016 at 5:52 PM

Hillarys dress was white…..until a smurf deposited $emen all over it……

Indiana Jim on February 12, 2016 at 6:06 PM

We will not hesitate to defend our friends and ourselves vigorously when necessary with the world’s strongest military.

Ambassador Stevens would beg to differ.

unclesmrgol on February 12, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Ambassador Stevens was no friend to Hillary. With his “constant whining about stupid stuff like security”, to Hillary he was just an expendable pain in the ass. Possibly even a loose end able to expose her lack of action security.

Oxymoron on February 12, 2016 at 6:19 PM

In order to be blackmailed, you have to be unwillingly forced to do something you otherwise would not have.

This fails on both counts.

Oxymoron on February 12, 2016 at 6:23 PM

OT: Heartbreak, weeping, and gnashing of teeth at Hot Gas. Jim Gilmore ended his campaign!

22044 on February 12, 2016 at 6:27 PM

The first rule of J-list club, you don’t talk about J-list club.

The second rule about J-list club, you don’t talk about J-list club.

The third rule of J-list club is, be muscular.

That is all.

oryguncon on February 12, 2016 at 11:24 PM

So, Marc Ambinder of the ceaselessly liberal Atlantic will be resigning his post in remorse and dishonor?
No. Thought not.

Wonder how many hundreds of ‘objective journalists’ at NYT, CNN, MSNBC,etc would be calling for a resignation on both ends of this deal if it were a Bush campaign issue in ’04, or ANY Republican running today, dictating terms to someone at National Review or the WSJ?

Scum. It always seems to collect at the left end of the pool.

orangemtl on February 14, 2016 at 8:06 PM