Hillary Clinton’s campaign always expected to be walked right into the Democratic nomination for president, and after her embarassing defeat in the 2008 election cycle, she began laying the groundwork to make herself inevitable following Barack Obama’s administration. The media, which the Clinton’s whine and moan about being against them, have done the lion’s share of trying to show that she is not only inevitable, but a good idea to boot. Gawker, in this regard, has done a good job of exposing just how much the media and the Clinton campaign are intertwined in trying to make her eventual nomination happen.
On Saturday, Leon Wolf detailed some of Gawker’s findings, which had Politico’s Playbook at the center of the controversy. Today, another report shows The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder revised a story of his own per the suggestions of Clinton’s staff.
The emails in question, which were exchanged by Ambinder, then serving as The Atlantic’s politics editor, and Philippe Reines, Clinton’s notoriously combative spokesman and consigliere, turned up thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request we filed in 2012 (and which we are currently suing the State Department over). The same request previously revealed that Politico’s chief White House correspondent, Mike Allen, promised to deliver positive coverage of Chelsea Clinton, and, in a separate exchange, permitted Reines to ghost-write an item about the State Department for Politico’s Playbook newsletter. Ambinder’s emails with Reines demonstrate the same kind of transactional reporting, albeit to a much more legible degree: In them, you can see Reines “blackmailing” Ambinder into describing a Clinton speech as “muscular” in exchange for early access to the transcript. In other words, Ambinder outsourced his editorial judgment about the speech to a member of Clinton’s own staff.
This is an incredible revelation as it reveals multiple things about both the Clinton campaign and the media. The first thing we realize is that the media is almost hopelessly corrupt when it comes to its darlings in politics. The Clintons are the royal family of politics, and virtually every media outlet wants to feed from the scraps off their table. This leads to Mike Allen and Marc Ambinder to make decisions where their editorial discretion fly out the window so long as they get the coveted “Clinton insider” status they seek.
The second thing we realize is just how desperate the Clinton camp is to maintain as much power as possible in the United States. This isn’t a particularly new revelation so much as it is reinforced by Gawker’s reporting. That the Clintons would need to entice and/or strongarm positive media coverage shows that they know Hillary is nowhere near as popular as Bill, and that she needs all the help she can to appear as good as he does.
The final major realization from this story is this: If these two prominent publications are guilty of letting the Clinton campaign ghostwrite for them, how many others that we don’t know about are or have done so already? This is not simply corruption in the media, this is a conspiracy to manipulate election outcomes. It is certainly legal, but morally and ethically wrong to allow this to happen in your newsroom.