A CNN reporter appears to have coordinated her coverage of a 2013 congressional hearing on Benghazi with a State Department spokesman, but some in the press maintain she was simply working a source.

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott was in regular contact with Hillary Clinton's then-personal spokesman and aide, Philippe Reines, on Jan. 23, 2013, when the former secretary of state testified before Congress on her role in the events surrounding the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

The revelation that Labott apparently coordinated her coverage with Reines comes from a batch of newly released State Department emails, which were published Monday by Gawker after the New York-based news group obtained them through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Those defending Labott from charges of being used as a mouthpiece by a government official assert that there's nothing unethical about the unearthed communications. The Reines emails, they explain, reveal only that reporters are constantly wooing their sources, which is standard for the industry.

"I'm truly disheartened by the rush to punish talented reporters. Nothing untoward has happened here," the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo said on social media. "This is a Shonda," he said, referencing TV producer Shonda Rhimes to describe an overblown scandal. "[Elise Labott] is as neutral as they come. And a talented reporter."

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