NBC Misses Key Facts in Clinton Hacked Email Coverage
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell covered the release of hacked emails from the Democratic campaign on Oct. 11. Did she tell the whole story?
She began, “Another email showing contact between the Clinton campaign and the Justice Department: Clinton Press secretary Brian Fallon writing he was in touch with the Justice department — where he once worked — regarding lawsuits over Clinton’s emails.”
Then, Mitchell quoted the email in question: “DOJ folks tell me there is a status hearing in the case.”
She followed, “White House tonight denying any impropriety.”
Mitchell then jumped to an interview with Bloomberg Politics Managing Editor Mark Halperin.
“This latest batch of documents demonstrates once again that Hillary Clinton is one disclosure away from potentially having this race flip flop once again,” Halperin said.
No further information backed up this claim. Mitchell’s story lacked key facts about the status hearing mentioned in the email.
Mitchell’s story did not mention the Republican campaign’s part in blasting Fallon’s email into the spotlight earlier in the day.
Jason Miller, a Donald Trump adviser, had claimed Fallon’s contact with the DOJ proved the Clinton campaign had inappropriately interfered with the federal government’s investigation of her server.
Retweeting NBC reporter Justin Winter, Trump also framed his opponent as guilty:
NEW: Hacked e-mails from Wikileaks appear to show Clinton campaign spokesman in touch with DOJ officials regarding e-mail litigation: pic.twitter.com/nlBZ3aHZh5
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) October 11, 2016
Wow. Unbelievable. https://t.co/RcBPCcmwnD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
The hearing notice was publicly available on the federal court’s website. A former White House ethics lawyer confirmed that the exchange with Fallon was normal.
Richard Painter, who worked under George W. Bush, said in a Politico article, “Sounds like the type of communication I would routinely have with the [Republican National Committee] when I worked at the White House: giving them a status update.”
Additionally, the hearing was part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — a separate case brought two months before the FBI investigation of Clinton’s server began.
Was Mitchell’s story correct without these facts?
Former Today Show anchor Ann Curry said no.
“The report could easily have noted [that] this information was already public and should have, as not doing so furthered the impression that the campaign was tipped off to something it would not have otherwise known,” Curry said. “The fact is relevant and important to the coverage.”
That said, Curry believes the story needs further questioning. She said, “This email tells us that the Clinton campaign and DOJ are communicating. We want to know if there have ever been any improper communications between them about the investigation.”
With each email hack comes new questions, but not necessarily scandal. In this tense campaign season, it is important to get at the truth, however complicated it may be.
More from Ann Curry:
“The public is best served by any dogged effort to get at the truth, which of course is usually difficult, rarely practical, but always important to try.”