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DNC Chair Donna Brazile Resigns Role As CNN Commentator


CNN says Donna Brazile, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, will no longer be a political commentator for the network. This comes after WikiLeaks posted more emails hacked from a top Hillary Clinton aide. This batch shows Brazile gave the Clinton campaign advance warning of questions the candidate might be asked at CNN events. This is not the only embarrassment for the media to come out of the WikiLeaks emails, as NPR's David Folkenflik reports.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Here's Donna Brazile talking back in March 2016 about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.


DONNA BRAZILE: First of all, I would hope that the Republicans and others who are now saying that Donald Trump should seek forgiveness for that will also say that when Hillary Clinton - if she's the nominee...

FOLKENFLIK: Brazile was giving Trump no quarter.


BRAZILE: He said some mean things about everybody. I mean we cannot excuse the fact that he's running for president. He's a frontrunner.

FOLKENFLIK: While CNN has hired a fleet of new political reporters to beef up its coverage of these elections, it also maintains a huge stable of paid pundits. Brazile was on the air and the payroll at CNN while vice chairwoman of the party. She took an absence when she became chief.

So was that Donna Brazile, a CNN analyst, or a Clinton partisan? Two batches of emails posted by WikiLeaks show Brazile gave Clinton advisers a heads up about questions the candidate might receive at CNN events during the primaries. Brazil warned the campaign that Clinton might face a question over lead poisoning during a CNN primary debate, showing her partisan ties. Here was another question that Brazile flagged.


ROLAND MARTIN: Since 1976, we've executed 1,414 people in his country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row.

FOLKENFLIK: This was introduced by cable channel TV One host Roland Martin. He moderated a Democratic town hall with CNN's Jake Tapper.


MARTIN: This is Ricky Jackson, wrongful convicted of murder in 1975. He's been...

FOLKENFLIK: Brazile had sent an email to a top Clinton aide the day before the town hall warning of just that question with almost the identical wording. CNN says it did not share its coverage materials with any candidate, party or campaign and says it was completely uncomfortable with Brazile's involvement with the Clinton camp.

Brazile tells NPR in an email that, quote, "my focus is on getting the truth as I can find it along with my own opinions out there." She says she resigned rather than get in an extended dispute with CNN over her role at the network. Here's Fox News host Sean Hannity on his radio show earlier this month talking about the WikiLeaks revelations.


SEAN HANNITY: It's everything that conspiracy theorists have said over the years, and all of this is out there now in the open.

FOLKENFLIK: The media is a big part of it, Hannity claimed.


HANNITY: They're propagandizing you. They're posing as objective journalists, and they are not.

FOLKENFLIK: Glenn Thrush, the chief political correspondent for Politico, was among those targeted for criticism.

GLENN THRUSH: I was being self-effacing. I called myself a hack. That has blown up in my face, though I never expected anyone outside the two of us to hear it.

FOLKENFLIK: Thrush's emails to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were splashed across screens in newspapers nationwide. Thrush was criticized for sharing a half dozen paragraphs of a draft of a story for Podesta to rebut. Some reporters do just that. Other newsrooms have policies discouraging or forbidding it. Thrush says he does the same for Republicans.

THRUSH: I don't give anyone control of my framing language. I don't give them any option of taking fact out of the story.

FOLKENFLIK: Thrust says these hacked emails may cast an embarrassing light but should not cause journalists to shy away from communicating with the people they cover. David Folkenflik, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.
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