We discussed earlier how Donna Brazile, the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, denied the legitimacy of emails that showed her leaking a question to Hillary Clinton that would be asked verbatim at the CNN downhill event. The media has largely declined to investigate the claim, including confirming the receipt of the earlier email from the Clinton staffer. Now additional emails allegedly show Brazile secretly feeding information to the Clinton campaign. Again, there has been relatively little media attention to the story and CNN initially issued a remarkably weak response that it was “uncomfortable” with the new disclosures on Brazile’s actions while a CNN commentator. While CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker later called Brazile’s actions “disgusting” and others have denounced her actions and later contradictions, the DNC stuck with Brazile even praising her post-scandal appearance before staffers (with one notable exception). More importantly, despite the ease of simply questioning the other recipients to confirm or disprove Brazile’s claims, reporters have done little to confirm whether Brazile lied or told the truth about the emails (a significant story during the campaign). Now, the declassified intelligence report appear to directly dispute what Brazile has said but it is unclear if anyone in the media is willing to pursue the story against one of the most powerful figures in Washington Democratic circles.
The report states that the email material did not contain “any evident forgeries.” In other words, they were real emails, not forged. Yet, Brazile repeatedly insisted that the emails were doctored or forged. That would seem to make this an even bigger story. If Brazile was telling the truth, the intelligence report is manifestly false or misleading.
During the campaign, Brazile dismissed the email and told Megyn Kelly that “I have seen so many doctored emails. I have seen things that come from me at 2 in the morning that I don’t even send. I will not sit here and be persecuted, because your information is totally false.” At the time, I noted that no one seemed even remotely interested in questioning the recipient: Clinton Campaign Adviser Jennifer Palmieri. Media could have asked to see the original emails since both Brazile and Palmieri had them. Instead, it was complete silence. Notably, Palmieri has been repeatedly on air but not (as far I as I find) asked to produce the emails or confirm Brazile’s account. She has also not come forward with information despite being referenced in numerous publications in the controversy.
Now the question is whether the Washington media corp will confront Brazile and demand to see these emails to determine whether she knowingly lied to the public and the press.
The report also highlights the difficulty that many in Washington are facing in trying to rally the public against Russian hacking. Many citizens may not be as mortified that Russia revealed how their leaders were lying to them. The emails showed how the Washington establishment — including the press corp — misled the public and colluded behind the scenes. It is a hard sell to tell the public that they should be disgusted by Russia showing them how their leaders are dishonest, disloyal, and often despicable in their conduct. While I view the allegations of Russian involvement to serious, the Washington establishment has little standing with voters to raise objections about their private alliances and communications being disclosed. Only a third of voters felt that the Russians influenced the election (though another poll shows over half are “concerned”). What is clear is that many voters valued the information and, if powerful individuals like Brazile lied in response to the disclosures, the hacking of the emails are unlikely to be the primary focus of voters.