Here’s some inside baseball material which highlights a serious disconnect in the perception of relations between the Clinton campaign and the media. Hillary Clinton is notoriously reclusive with the press, frequently finding herself on the receiving end of complaints about how few pressers she holds and her general lack of availability. That stands in contrast with the massively favorable coverage she receives – or at least the inordinate amount of silence surrounding negative Clinton stories compared to the media’s treatment of trump.
But why would she avoid them so much when they seem to be willing to provide favorable coverage? Writing at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald reveals some new emails from Guccifer 2.0 which highlight the Clinton team’s awareness of who is or is not friendly in the press corps. In their leading example they cite the staff’s eagerness to work with former Politico reporter (now with the New York Times) Maggie Haberman.
At times, Clinton’s campaign staff not only internally drafted the stories they wanted published but even specified what should be quoted “on background” and what should be described as “on the record.”
One January 2015 strategy document – designed to plant stories on Clinton’s decision-making process about whether to run for president – singled out reporter Maggie Haberman, then of Politico, now covering the election for the New York Times, as a “friendly journalist” who has “teed up” stories for them in the past and “never disappointed” them. Nick Merrill, the campaign press secretary, produced the memo, according to the document metadata:
How specific were the marching orders for contacting reporters like Haberman? Pretty explicit.
It’s worth keeping in mind here that these are things which communications folks in every campaign want to do. It’s something they all try to do. The real question is how effective they are and how accomodating the media is willing to be. In this case it seemed to be a fairly effective relationship. As Glenn goes on to note, Haberman published two stories on Clinton’s vetting process. While they might not have been word for word what the campaign was looking for, the outlet was clearly pushing the desired theme of Clinton’s thoroughness and good management.
It wasn’t just the print media being shown favoritism. Greenwald lists a number of Clinton “surrogates” appearing on cable news outlets who could be directly contacted with talking points to push. Some of them were “on the payroll” in various capacities without disclosing that to viewers. A few of the big names on that list include CNN’s Hilary Rosen and Donna Brazile as well as Stephanie Cutter and Maria Cardona. It’s obviously no mystery that these expert commentators were there to promote the Democrats, but their close relationship with the Clinton campaign was never explicitly revealed.
Is any of this a shock? Probably not if you’ve watched cable news for more than five minutes or ever seen a newspaper. But it’s still fascinating to see it set forth in black and white this way. Check out the full article for more details.