It’s not news mainstream media lined up en masse behind Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, but it is worth noting how many in the media were willing to compromise their ability to report fairly on the election by connecting themselves to her campaign.
At least 65 prominent mainstream media personalities were participating in dinners, cocktail receptions and other functions, according to an analysis of material exposed by Wikileaks. The events were held ostensibly to make them feel like insiders to the campaign and promoters of its objectives.
In what was billed as an off-the-record meeting for drinks with Clinton campaign insiders, at least 38 New York-based media members attended a dinner and drinks party in April 2015 thrown by the campaign’s Joel Benenson.
“Give reporters their first thoughts from Team HRC in advance of the announcement.”
“Setting expectations for the announcement and launch period.”
“Framing the HRC message and framing the race.”
“Enjoy a Friday night drink before working more.”
According to a list first published in The Intercept, there to learn what they should think about Clinton’s announcement, expectations for the launch period and the framing of her message was an all-star cast of mainstream media denizens.
There were Cecilia Vega, David Muir, Diane Sawyer, Jon Karl and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News; John Heilemann and Mark Halperin of Bloomberg; Norah O’Donnell and Vicki Gordon of CBS News; Brianna Keilar, David Chalian, Gloria Borger, Jeff Zeleny, John Berman, Kate Bouldan, Mark Preston and Sam Feist of CNN; Savannah Guthrie of NBC; and Alex Wagner, Beth Fouhy, Phil Grifin and Rachel Racusen of MSNBC. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was listed as TBD.
There were five staffers from the New York Times – Amy Chozik, Gail Collins, Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Pat Healey, as well as Alyssa Mastramonoco of Vice, Jon Allen of Vox, Mike Allen of Axios, and Glenn Thrush of Politico, who was later found to have submitted stories to the Clinton campaign for approval.
A similar group attended a dinner the night before at John Podesta’s house. Podesta, then Clinton’s campaign manager, now writes a column for the Washington Post.
Attendees at the Podesta dinner included Liz Kreutz of ABC, Julie Pace, Ken Thomas and Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press; Jennifer Epstein of Bloomberg, April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Network, Rudy Cramer of Buzzfeed, Mike Memoli and Evan Handler of the Los Angeles Times, Alex Seitz-Wald of MSNBC, Mark Murray of NBC, Anita Kumar of McClatchey, Amy Chozik and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Tamara Keith of NPR and Annie Karni and Gabe Debenedetti of Politico.
No Fox reporters attended either of these meetings.
he Hill published a story in May 2016 headlined, “Hillary’s unlikely ally: The media,” in which it predicted 2016 would be much different in terms of press reception than the “long, contentious relationship with the press, most notably in her 2008 run for the White House.”
“Much of the political media disdain Trump, and that feeling is palpable in green rooms in New York City and Washington, D.C. The thought of a Trump presidency simply scares political journalists for a number of reasons, including his proposal to ‘open up’ libel laws to make it easier to sue media companies.”
The Hill recounted that while 89 percent of reporters who responded to a 1992 survey said they had voted for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush, “it is rare for the Clintons to have the media on their side.”
David Brock, it recalled, had accused the New York Times of being ‘a megaphone for conservative propaganda’ that had a “special place in hell” waiting for its coverage of the Clintons.
After 2016, the myth the Clintons were victims of the New York Times has been erased.