On September 21, 2015, CNBC’s Chief Washington correspondent John Harwood emailed Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, to ask for advice. “What should I ask Jeb,” the subject of Harwood’s email read. The body of the email continued, “…in Speakeasy interview tomorrow?”
Harwood was apparently referring to this interview with Trump which CNBC uploaded to You Tube on October 1, 2015. It’s not clear whether any of the questions Harwood asked Trump came directly from the Clinton camp but the fact that he even asked the opposing campaign manager to come up with questions ought to be enough to send him packing.
CNN fired Donna Brazile after it was revealed that, on at least one occasion, she provided a debate question to the Clinton camp in advance. What Harwood has done is launder partisan opposition through his own reputation as a professional journalist.
It’s still remotely possible that Harwood gave the same opportunity to the Trump campaign. If so he should release the email demonstrating that, while he was being a bit lazy, he wasn’t acting as a partisan hack for the Clinton camp.
But this is not the first time Harwood has appeared unusually chummy with the Clinton campaign. After his stint as a debate moderator in 2015, Harwood wrote Podesta saying, “I imagine…that Obama feels some (sad) vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”
In another email Harwood warned Podesta to watch out for Dr. Ben Carson saying, “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general.”
Harwood also judged Hillary “most likely to be next president” in an email sent to Podesta last September. “Amazing that some people still think it’s worth burning so much interview time with person most likely to be next president on her emails,” he wrote.
All of the chumminess with one campaign could possibly be excused as a reporter trying to keep good relations with people he needs access to during a long campaign. But asking the campaign to provide a question for the opposing candidate crosses a line. Unless he’s got an email showing he offered the same opportunity to the Trump campaign, CNBC ought to send Harwood packing.