Accuracy in Media

Tucker Carlson said CNN executives ordered their on-air personalities to attack Donna Brazile, and Glenn Greenwald said the narrative behind those attacks is false.

On Monday, Carlson reported on Fox News that, according to sources at CNN, top brass had ordered reporters to discredit Brazile and the revelations she made that cast Clinton in a bad light, including that she considered beginning a process to remove Clinton from the ticket after the candidate nearly collapsed at a 9/11 commemoration event in New York.

“According to highly informed sources we spoke to – highly informed – top management at CNN directed its employees to undermine Brazile’s credibility,” Carlson said.

“Anchors and producers were vocally offended by her attacks on their friends, the Clintons. If you’ve been watching that channel, you may have noticed CNN’s anchors suggesting that Donna Brazile cannot be trusted, precisely because she took part in efforts to break the primaries for Clinton.”

Carlson then played a clip of CNN hosts criticizing Brazile for sharing a debate question with Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries.

The Washington Post focused on how the left and right had switched roles in its perceptions of Brazile since the revelations came out. Tom Brokaw called the expose “beyond counterproductive” and discredited Brazile as someone “known for ‘ready, fire, aim’ attacks.”

NBC tried to organize the opposition’s case in one story. It said the agreement Brazile revealed that dictated terms between the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, which was $24 million in debt at the time, gave Clinton “input on some party hiring and spending decisions but required they be related only to preparations for the general election.”

Brazile claimed Clinton had taken over hiring; the NBC story said the DNC retained control of who was hired for key posts, such as communications director, but that the party had agreed to choose one of two candidates deemed acceptable to her campaign. The memo, NBC said, made clear the arrangement applied only to the general election and left open the possibility similar agreements could be signed with other candidates.

Writing in the Intercept, Greenwald took issue with nearly all of this.

He called the notion – which took hold quickly and thoroughly among mainstream journalists – that the agreement applied only to the general election “blatantly and obviously false.”

For one example, the agreement specifically states, “The DNC will provide HFA (Clinton’s  campaign) advance opportunity to review online or mass email communications that feature a particularly Democratic primary candidate.” The best NBC could do for a walk-back was to add a sentence that said, “Still, it clearly allowed the Clinton campaign to influence DNC decisions made during an active primary, even if intended for preparations later.”

Various other media members pointed out Bernie Sanders signed the same agreement with the DNC that Clinton did. But again, Greenwald says this is false … “in the most fundamental way possible.”

Sanders supplied ABC with a copy of his agreement, and it did not contain any of the provisions vesting control over the DNC that made the Clinton agreement so controversial, Greenwald wrote.

Mainstream media also mocked Brazile for saying she thought about removing Hillary from the ticket because, of course, the party chair cannot unilaterally remove the presidential candidate from the ticket. But Brazile made no such claim. She clearly was making reference to the complicated process in the DNC charter that allowed for removal of a nominee who had become incapacitated.

The Post acknowledged this in a clarification that read: “This story has been updated to clarify the process that Donna Brazile considered initiating to have Hillary Clinton replaced as the Democratic presidential nominee. As interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Brazile was not empowered to replace her unilaterally.”

Finally, various talking heads have tried to imply the content of the emails hacked from the DNC and revealed by Wikileaks to be fraudulent. But not a single email has been produced nor a single claim made by even the Clinton campaign that the emails were altered.

Greenwald said such claims pose a real danger to democracy. They emerge so randomly and gain traction so quickly via social media that they are virtually impossible to correct.

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