Accuracy in Media

During a radio interview last Friday, CNN’s Jake Tapper was asked about reports that then-CNN contributor Donna Brazile had shared questions she obtained with the Clinton campaign, in advance of a town hall forum .

“It’s…very, very troubling. Look, I have tremendous regard for Donna Brazile. She’s a good person and a nice person and I like her a lot but whatever took place here…and I know I had nothing to do with it…and I know CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents…they weren’t ever emailed around. I think this was a follow-up question that Roland Martin was going to ask theoretically.”

Tapper went on to say that they wanted to ask Clinton a tough question about her support of the death penalty after CNN had found a prisoner who had been freed from death row, thanks to the Innocence Project, and that finding out that someone was tipping off the Clinton campaign was “very, very upsetting.”

This all came to light in a WikiLeaks email dump that revealed an email from Brazile to Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri on March 12 that contained the following question about the death penalty:

“19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

CNN has said that it didn’t share the questions ahead of time with Brazile, and she has denied forwarding any questions to the Clinton campaign. CNN has tried to shift the blame to Media One, its partner for the town hall, and co-moderator Roland Martin who asked the death penalty question nearly word for word.

Tapper backed that up by saying it was his understanding that the email was sent to Brazile by Martin or someone on his staff, and that the whole episode was “horrifying:”

“It’s horrifying, journalistically it’s horrifying, absolutely and I’m sure it will have an impact on partnering with this organization in the future,”

The media continue to refer to the WikiLeaks emails as “alleged,” but there has been no denial from the parties involved about their authenticity.

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