Advice to Clinton: Cultivate 'brown and women pundits' to shame NY Times over tough coverage

Last summer, Hillary Clinton’s ally Neera Tanden passed along some advice on how to get better coverage from the NY Times. That advice included having Hillary meet with the Times’ publisher and also cultivating “brown and women pundits” to shame the Times on social media for its aggressive coverage.

Tanden, who runs the Clinton allied Center for American Progress, sent an email to John Podesta in July 2015 with the subject “Howard’s advice.” Politico reports that’s probably referring to New York City Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. The first part of the email recommends that Hillary set up an informal meeting with NY Times’ publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.:

when bloomberg was having problems w the times he called Arthur schulzburger [sic] and asked for coffee. He made the case that they were treating him like a billionaire dilettante instead of Third term mayor. It changed the coverage moderately but also aired the issues in the newsroom so people were more conscious of it. But Arthur is a pretty big wuss so he’s not going to do a lot more than that.

Hillary would have to be the one to call.

The second piece of advice was for the campaign to cultivate pundits who would be willing to attack the NY Times on social media:

He also thinks the brown and women pundits can shame the times and others on social media. So cultivating Joan Walsh, Yglesias, Allen, perry bacon, Greg Sargent, to defend her is helpful. They can be emboldened. Fwiw – I pushed pir to do this a yr ago.

Joan Walsh used to be an editor at Salon and is now at The Nation. Matt Yglesias works at Vox, Perry Bacon is senior political reporter at NBC News and Greg Sargent writes the liberal Plum line blog for the Washington Post. I’m not sure who ‘Allen’ is. Also not clear who “pir” is. Politico asked the NY Times if Sulzberger Jr. had met with Hillary Clinton last year. Here was the response:

“As publisher, Arthur frequently engages with subjects of Times coverage. In the end, he’s a champion of independent journalism and has full confidence in our executive editor and in our newsroom to make the proper decisions about how they cover the news.”

That sounds like a yes to me. It would be interesting to know if the Clinton camp actually did try to cultivate some of the “brown and women pundits” mentioned in the story. Matt Yglesias at Vox wrote a story titled “The New York Times’ latest Clinton Foundation ‘scandal’ may be the dumbest one yet” last month, but that’s more than a year after the advice was passed on. And Joan Walsh wrote “The New York Times’ asinine new Hillary meme: Will no one think of the white people?” but that story was published  a month before the advice was sent to John Podesta. Both Walsh and Sargent commented when the NY Times “stealth edited” a story about Hillary Clinton in late July 2015, but does anyone think they needed encouragement from the Clinton team to do this?