Conservatives often complain that the media are colluding with Democrats. Well, here’s more proof that yes, there is collusion. But what looks like bad journalism required good journalism to ferret it out.
SEE BELOW: MEDIA EMBRACE REP. ADAM SCHIFF AS NEW COLLUSION KING
New York Magazine and HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali is accusing Dafna Linzer, the managing editor for political coverage for NBC News and MSNBC, of trying to “bully” him to help Democrats. While Ali leans and works left, he has a good reputation for being an honest broker – even among conservatives. His complaints lit up Twitter Friday.
Ali devoted a 25-tweet thread to criticizing the actions Linzer. Ali said Linzer called to “bully” him “on behalf of the DNC” (the Democratic National Committee). He slammed her actions as “highly inappropriate and unethical.”
Ali explained that he discovered a mini-scoop about the dates of the first Democratic primary debates – June 25 and 26 in Miami – to be aired by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. That’s not earth-shattering news, but it’s a good sign that Ali had his fingers on the pulse of politics. It also helps him sell his newsletter.
Ali said he called the Democratic National Committee to confirm and the person he spoke with asked for 10 minutes to respond. When a DNC official called back, Ali was asked to delay publishing his story so the DNC could notify state Democratic Party leaders. He said no, unwilling to lose his scoop.
Two minutes later, he said Linzer called him. She asked him to delay the story. This isn’t too odd because NBC is hosting the Miami debates. When Ali said no was when it turned strange. Here’s his account: “She was agitated, ‘why not?’ I said I'm not going to lose a scoop. Then she got angrier and said ‘Why not? It's not a big deal, let them make a few phone calls.’"
Ali said Linzer kept at it. He said she “wasn't calling to advocate for her network, she was calling to advocate the DNC's position.” Linzer persisted and, according to Ali’s account, about two-thirds of the way into the conversation she tried to take the discussion “off the record.”
Ali said he never agreed. Reporters are extremely unlikely to accept such conditions for comments already made. That’s why he could write about what happened.
Ali stressed that “she was calling to intimidate” him and he said he thinks it’s “more important to expose bad behavior then keep it under wraps.” He summed it up, saying “Dafna was advocating for me to not do something on behalf of a political party.”
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple described Ali as “excellent” and “a fellow who has brought us big scoops.”
Wemple focused on the larger picture, writing: “The bigger deal is that the alliance/partnership between news outlets and political parties for debate rights is a messy, fraught and occasionally corrupt one.”
Wemple added that news organizations end up having “to accommodate and make nice with the DNC and RNC” in a “dynamic runs counter to any and all journalistic principles.” He’s right.
Daily Caller White House Correspondent Amber Athey chimed in that this wasn’t unusual for NBC. “Btw, anyone who has reported on stories related to NBC News knows their penchant for trying to intimidate reporters,” she wrote.
NBC News has made no formal response at this writing. But CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter tried to run cover for the network. (Shocker!)
In a piece about the scandal, Stelter quoted a source saying “Informing internal stakeholders, 15+ presidential campaigns, and debate partners of a logistical detail an hour before it's public is completely in bounds and nothing more than run-of-the-mill event coordination done with both political parties."
The bold text was his, as if it had anything to do with the allegations. It didn’t. It’s a complete non sequitur. Ali was bullied by an NBC editor and this doesn’t address it at all.
A NEW COLLUSION KING IN TOWN
Out: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In: Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. At least as far as the news media are concerned.
Forget the nearly two-year love affair between the media and Mueller. The media broke up with the special counsel faster than a Vegas divorce. Journalists adapted quickly, warmly embracing Schiff, who they’ve been smitten with for years.
Journalists rushed to defend Schiff when President Trump calling the congressman a “pencil-neck.” The Trump re-election campaign even started selling “Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff” T-shirts for $28, portraying Schiff with a pencil as his neck and a red clown nose.
It’s now Schiff’s job to pencil in more claims of Trump-Russia collusion, which he seems eager to do. That’s a job the media have been helping him do.
“Undoubtedly there is collusion,” Schiff said this week, despite the conclusion by Mueller – as described by Attorney General William Barr – that “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
As a result, Republicans on Schiff’s committee called on him to resign and Schiff fought back. He gave a brief speech that journalists and guests on MSNBC and CNN called “powerful,” “forceful,” “remarkable,” “fiery” and “stunning” – to list just a few of the descriptors. This is the kind of language you’d expect to see in a news release put out by the congressman’s press secretary.
Schiff and his critics have been discussed everywhere – morning and evening broadcast shows, as well as on cable news. He got so much attention and adoration from traditional news and lefty outlets that he actually surpassed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in media affection.
NBC and its weak sister news channel MSNBC went all-in to protect Schiff. MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell complained about “the attempt to completely undermine his authority over the Intelligence Committee.”
NBC News White House Correspondent Geoff Bennett said Republicans were trying to “embarrass” Schiff, instead of noting he had embarrassed himself.
The MSNBC MaddowBlog ran “Under partisan fire, Adam Schiff presents his case without apology.” And added: “The problem with the Republican crusade against Adam Schiff.” Yeah, it’s a crusade when you criticize someone for endlessly making false claims.
MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell raved about the historic nature of Schiff’s defense. He predicted that “when future historians look back at this day … they will all be quoting Adam Schiff.”
That’s unsurprising given the close ties between Schiff and MSNBC and NBC. The committee Schiff chairs hired former MSNBC contributor Daniel Goldman to lead his investigation of the president.
But the media love didn’t stop there.
Alternet celebrated Schiff’s “expert smackdown of ‘corrupt’ Trump.” It loved his “speech destroying House Republicans.”
Los Angeles Magazine described him as “Mild-Mannered Congressman Adam Schiff,” to further paint his foes as nasty folk.
The Washington Post published a story saying Schiff “has emerged as a public foil to Trump and his supporters” and that he “has stood resolute amid the attacks.”
Imagine if Republicans had spent two years falsely claiming President Obama had colluded with Russia. Do you think they’d be getting praised in the Washington Post?