Mainstream Media “Presstitutes” in Collusion With Hillary Campaign Exposed in Leaked Internal Documents


**UPDATED November 7, 2016 to include the following new revelation concerning Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post:

National Clean Energy Summit 7.0 In Las VegasIn an April 28, 2008 email to John Podesta (pictured right with Clinton), David Brock, Paul Begala, and other Democratic Party power players, Susan McCue, a former chief of staff for Harry Reid, mentions Arianna Huffington as enthusiastic to participate but declining a seat on the board at PMUSA, a David Brock group formerly known as Progressive Media USA and now known as ProgressiveAccountability.org, asserting that she can more effectively push their agenda covertly through the Huffington Post without a direct link to the organization, rather than overtly as a board member.

“I spoke w Arianna abt PMUSA Board and will send her more info. She is enthusiastic abt the project but asks if she’s more useful to us not being on the Board and, instead, using Huffpo to echo our message without any perceived conflicts. She has a point. We’ll keep talking. She liked the Geffen idea. He’s on his boat and returns May 9. She’ll make the ask. Steve – I had good talk w Jeff A abt logo. Arianna Huffington expressed her preference to exert covert influence instead of overt influence.”

Originally published October 29, 2016:

As new, damning revelations concerning the Clinton Foundation and the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign continue to unravel with each batch of fresh Podesta emails released by Wikileaks, The Intercept reveals another bombshell from stolen internal strategy documents provided by the hacker(s) known as Guccifer 2.0.

The internal documents outline how a key part of the Hillary campaign strategy is pushing its agenda and rhetoric to agreeable journalists who can be depended on to present her in a favorable light. In turn, these media sycophants for Clinton neatly package the planted stories and widely distribute them for public consumption. This arrangement occasionally goes as far as the stories being internally drafted in meticulous detail by the Clinton campaign staff themselves, even specifying which parts should be attributed as “on background” and what details should be quoted “on the record.”

maggieIn an internal memo (pictured left) from January 2015, campaign press secretary Nick Merrill singled out Maggie Haberman, then a reporter for Politico who is now covering the 2016 election for the New York Times, as a “friendly journalist” who has “teed up” stories for them in the past and “never disappointed” them in the past year they had been coordinating with each other. He suggested they could achieve their objective and “do the most shaping” of public perception with the most likely success through utilizing Haberman.

The document outlined the campaign staff’s plot to induce Haberman to write a story on the thoroughness and profound soul-searching that went into Clinton’s vetting process leading up to her ultimate decision to cast her bid for the highest office in the nation. A month later, while writing for the Times, Haberman published two stories on Clinton’s decision-making process, which turned out to be more sophisticated, nuanced and slightly more critical than imagined in the Clinton internal memo. Nevertheless, the stories achieved the campaign’s desired goal of projecting the semblance of transparency on Clinton’s vetting process to clearly establish a careful path towards a presidential run.

medialistIn another internal document, pictured right, with the file’s metadata identifying its author to be the Clinton campaign’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign ruminated over who they regarded as their most reliable “surrogates”, while deliberating which operatives they believed to be good “progressive helpers” or which ones held greater “friend” potential as possible media allies worth reaching out to. As previously reported by The Intercept, pundits regularly featured on cable news programs were paid by the Clinton campaign without any disclosure when they appeared; some of them are explicitly mentioned in this “surrogates” list, including Stephanie Cutter and Maria Cardona.

Politico‘s chief White House correspondent, Glenn Thrush, is documented numerous times in the Wikileaks email dumps to have submitted entire drafts of his unpublished pieces to John Podesta for his approval prior to publication. Attaching entire sections of a May 2015 story before it was sent to print, Thrush writes:

“Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this…tell me if I fucked up anything.”

The story, entitled Hillary’s Big-Money Dilemma,” focused on early fundraising difficulties faced by the Clinton campaign in a 2016 White House run.

thrushclintonIn an April 11, 2015 email concerning another unpublished piece submitted to Podesta for approval, Thrush, pictured left interviewing Clinton, writes:

“Just wanted to run by the stuff that pertains directly to u. Is this accurate? No fingerprints, obviously…”

Thrush’s apparent behavioral pattern of sending entire portions of articles seeking Podesta’s approval prior to publication continues to be documented in this March 2, 2016 email, with subject line “let me use this on the record,” to which Podesta responded curtly, “Fine.”

Thrush also emailed Jennifer Palmieri with entire relevant sections of a then-unpublished piece about Hillary’s campaign launch, which she forwarded along to other Clinton campaign staffers in an April 17, 2015 email with subject line “Fwd: pls read asap — the JP bits — don’t share,” in which she writes:

“Glenn Thrush is doing a story about how well launch went and some part of it will be about me – which I hate. He did me courtesy of sending what he is going to say about me. Seems fine. Just didn’t want folks to think I went looking for this!”

Politico had previously come under fire for secretly collaborating with the Democrats on a story in July, when  The Hill reported that Politico writer Ken Vogel had submitted a copy of a report to a Democratic National Committee communications official before it was published, a violation of the publication’s policy.

Donna Brazile on State of the Union with Candy CrowleyIn another case of media collusion which could also be regarded as cheating during the primary, Donna Brazile (pictured right), then a CNN contributor and currently the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, sent an email with the subject line, “From time to time I get the questions in advance,” to members of the Clinton campaign, tipping them off to one of the questions that would be asked during Clinton’s upcoming debate with Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

CNBC correspondent and New York Times contributor John Harwood, who served as a moderator in one of the Republican primary debates, frequently emailed Podesta and other members of the Clinton campaign, with dinner invites, interview requests, forwarded jokes about jogging, and occasionally with advice for the campaign, such as in a May 8, 2015 email with subject line “Watch out,” in which he warns the campaign: “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general [election],” linking to video clips of an interview he conducted with the former Republican presidential candidate.

hitjobIn another email chain, Harwood was slammed by Jennifer Palmieri (pictured left) for what she and Podesta determined was “another hit piece,” remarking that such a “cheap shot” seemed out of character for him:

“No, he is not joking. He and I are both put off by your piece. The briefing was just meant to help give context to the press for how we are thinking about the race and how summer is likely to go. Never intended for it to be newsmaking event. We thought it would be helpful and you turned it into another hit piece on how our campaign interacts with the press. Seemed like a cheap shot. And odd coming from you.”

Harwood defended himself against the allegation by enumerating all the ways he didn’t try to challenge the campaign, insisting that he was simply “poking fun at a campaign ritual.”

hillarypressAnother email chain reveals the tight control the Hillary campaign exerts over the media narrative, requiring an “off the record” interview prior to approving an “on the record” interview. Apparently her staff were not too confident in Hillary’s ability to handle an “on the record” interview, even what appears to be an obvious puff piece by New York Times writer Mark Leibovich, with Jennifer Palmieri expressing concern:

“Anyone think it is a good idea for her to do an on the record interview with him? Concerned this is a lot for her to expound on.”

An internal memo circulated among Clinton campaign aides described the upcoming Leibovich interview:

“This is a phone interview with Mark Leibovich (ML) for his upcoming NYT Magazine piece on HRC. Our best sense of his angle is that he is writing about how HRC is campaigning as her true self this time seeing as some of her humor is coming through to voters, as opposed to 2008. *YOUR goal is to push that HRC is more aware than anyone in history of what it means to be President and in this campaign voters are seeing who she really is – from her bio, to the issues, to the style of the campaign. For 20 years people have said, if voters got to see the real Hillary Clinton, she’d get elected and in this campaign it seems that is coming through.*

In a July 2015 email forwarded to Podesta, Leibovich sent Jennifer Palmieri entire excerpts from this interview with Clinton, appearing to seek permission to use certain portions, to which Palmieri vetoed nearly the entire interview, responding with extensive editing suggestions, including removal of Clinton’s quote: “And gay rights has moved much faster than women’s rights or civil rights, which is an interesting phenomenon.” Palmieri quipped at the end of one exchange: “Pleasure doing business!”

When Boston Globe op-ed editor Marjorie Pritchard emailed Podesta asking if Hillary would be interested in submitting an op-ed piece with her economic proposals, the op-ed idea was floated around to other Clinton staffers, with Kristin Schake quickly deferring the matter to Jake Sullivan:

“Yes we should do. Jake would someone in your team have time to write the first draft?”

In an email dated July 26, 2015, Pritchard presses Podesta on this op-ed, strongly suggesting how the timing of the piece could maximize Clinton’s presence during her primary race in New Hampshire:

“Just wondering if we are still on for that piece. Brian said last week it was ready and just needed approval. It would be good to get it in on Tuesday, when she is in New Hampshire. That would give her big presence on Tuesday with the piece and on Wednesday with the news story.”

These are just a few examples of the reprehensible backroom exchanges demonstrating how the mainstream media has spectacularly failed at their duty to hold those in positions of power accountable, seeming to prioritize profit and maintaining access to famous politicians over hard-hitting investigative journalism or a staunch devotion to the idealistic pursuit of the truth in order to inform the public and thereby safeguard democracy. Not only do these leaks unravel the great extent to which the mainstream media has violated appropriate boundaries and colluded with the Clinton campaign, they also reveal how deeply and alarmingly Clinton depends on trusted advisors and staffers to calculate and shape her every move, thought, and expressed opinion, that if her teleprompter were taken away and questions were not supplied in advance, she would be rendered completely helpless and stumbling for what to say.

Following is a list of media figures and institutions who are bankrupt in integrity, and whose stories should be regarded with suspicion and derision as nothing more than unctuous puff pieces for the establishment agenda. The list was copied and pasted as is from 2 separate internal Clinton campaign memos, with any spelling errors and duplicates preserved.

  1. ABC – Cecilia Vega
  2. ABC – David Muir
  3. ABC – Diane Sawyer
  4. ABC – George Stephanoplous
  5. ABC – Jon Karl
  6. Bloomberg – John Heillman
  7. Bloomberg – Mark Halperin
  8. CBS – Norah O’Donnell
  9. CBS – Vicki Gordon
  10. CNN – Brianna Keilar
  11. CNN – David Chalian
  12. CNN – Gloria Borger
  13. CNN – Jeff Zeleny
  14. CNN – John Berman
  15. CNN – Kate Bouldan
  16. CNN – Mark Preston
  17. CNN – Sam Feist
  18. Daily Beast – Jackie Kucinich
  19. GPG – Mike Feldman
  20. Huffington Post – Whitney Snyder
  21. MORE – Betsy Fisher Martin
  22. MSNBC – Alex Wagner
  23. MSNBC – Beth Fouhy
  24. MSNBC – Phil Griffin
  25. MSNBC – Rachel Maddow (TBD)
  26. MSNBC – Rachel Racusen
  27. NBC – Savannah Gutherie
  28. New Yorker – Ryan Liza
  29. NYT – Amy Chozik
  30. NYT – Gail Collins
  31. NYT – Jonathan Martin
  32. NYT – Maggie Haberman
  33. NYT – Pat Healey
  34. PEOPLE – Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
  35. POLITICO – Glenn Thrush
  36. POLITICO – Mike Allen
  37. VICE – Alyssa Mastramonoco
  38. VOX – Jon Allen
  39. ABC – Liz Kreutz
  40. AP – Julie Pace
  41. AP – Ken Thomas
  42. AP – Lisa Lerer
  43. Bloomberg – Jennifer Epstein
  44. Buzzfeed – Ruby Cramer
  45. CBS – Steve Chagaris
  46. CNBC – John Harwood
  47. CNN – Dan Merica
  48. Huffington Post – Amanda Terkel
  49. LAT – Evan Handler
  50. McClatchy – Anita Kumar
  51. MSNBC – Alex Seitz-Wald
  52. National Journal – Emily Schultheis
  53. NBC – Mark Murray
  54. NPR – Mara Liassion
  55. NPR – Tamara Keith
  56. NYT – Amy Chozik
  57. NYT – Maggie Haberman
  58. Politico – Annie Karni
  59. Politico – Gabe Debenedetti
  60. Politico – Glenn Thrush
  61. Reuters – Amanda Becker
  62. Washington Post – Anne Gearan
  63. Washington Post – Phil Rucker
  64. WSJ – Colleen McCain Nelson
  65. WSJ – Laura Meckler
  66. WSJ – Peter Nicholas


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