What we the liberals were spared: As you may have heard, Donna Brazile got canned by CNN a few weeks back. For today's report in the New York Times, you can just click here.
It was another WikiLeaks-related job loss. Here's the way it went down:
Back in March, it seems that Brazile supplied some questions to the Clinton campaign in advance of a few Democratic candidate forums. Or then again, did she actually do that?
On October 17, Brazile appeared on the Maddow Show. Two nights later, she appeared on The Kelly File, on the Fox News Channel.
On each of these cable news shows, Brazile was asked about what happened. We think the contrast between the shows is perhaps somewhat instructive.
Brazile appeared on the Maddow Show on Monday, October 17. As the interview neared its end, Maddow popped the question about the first of the purloined questions.
In response, Brazile provided a world-class example of double-talk in the form of a long filibuster. Maddow had asked a simple question. Below, you see Brazile's initial reply:
MADDOW (10/17/16): I also have to ask you, [WikiLeaks] leaked an e-mail that you reportedly sent to the Clinton campaign in March in which you said, "From time to time, I get the questions in advance," and included a question about the death penalty.Presumably, Brazile is also a smoker, perhaps a midnight toker! At any rate, after killing oodles of time, she offered something resembling a statement:
Now, you've said you never had access to CNN questions. You never shared them with the Clinton campaign ahead of one of those town halls that happened the next day. Can you just explain to us what happened there?
BRAZILE: Well, to the best of my knowledge, because I don't read anything postmarked from Russia. I'm not—I'm not anxious to destroy any more of my computers. I don't have the kind of resources that some people to keep replacing documents and keep replacing computers every time you open up one malware or spyware.
But here's what I have to say, Rachel—I love CNN. CNN gave me a platform for over 14 years. And throughout the 14 years, I covered both Republican and Democratic debates as a commentator. Not as an analyst, and not as a moderator.
And so the notion that I was privileged to anything other than a glass of water and my own pencil and paper is ludicrous. But I can tell you one thing about me, and that is before I go on any show, before I prepare for anything, I call around to my colleagues both on Democratic side and also call around Republicans. I just saw Michael Steele.
Look, I know nothing about the Republican Party. So, when I think about the topics, when I think about what might be covered, I want to know where the candidates stand. And I communicated with not just Secretary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders, Martin O'Malley, because if I had some idea what the topics were going to be, I want to know exactly where they would come out so that I could—I can be on the panels before or after the show.
But, no, CNN has never shared anything with me. That's the God honest truth.
Now, are you asking me if I ever supplied potential questions to journalists and others? Hell yes, I do that all the time. I wish I can supply some to Chris Wallace on Wednesday night. I have all kinds of ideas.
Rachel, I'm a writer, I'm a talker, and some people know that I can garden and do other things with my life. So, I like to—I like to stir it up and I like to submit stuff to everybody. But no, CNN never supplied me with any questions.
"CNN never supplied me with any questions."
When we watched the show that night, we were struck by the rather obvious way Brazile was killing time. There was, of course, a fairly obvious set of follow-up questions:
Putting "CNN" to the side, did anyone ever give you a question in advance? However you may have received such a question, did you ever pass such a question to the Clinton campaign?
Maddow didn't ask. By now, time for the segment was almost gone, though Brazile interrupted and started rambling again:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, thank you for your time tonight. It's good to see you.While all that bullroar was going on, Maddow actually could have asked those follow-up questions!
BRAZILE: But, Rachel, I got a favor to ask. If you ever moderate another presidential town hall meeting, why don't you just get me as your researcher, because I have a lot of good questions to ask these candidates. I care about issues like the death penalty, mass incarceration. I want to make sure those questions are asked in the debate, because sometimes we cherry-pick and, we never get to the bottom line on what's on people's minds. I like to share and I like to also provide some feedback.
MADDOW: Advocating for those questions to be asked is one thing that a lot of people do out of the goodness of their heart and out of the right politics. And it's a reason that before you moderate anything like that, all smart people turn off their phones for several days so we can't get that advice.
BRAZILE: I know.
MADDOW: Thank you, Donna. It's good to see you. Thanks for being here.
Can we talk? Maddow didn't seem to be trying to get an answer. She seemed to be happy to let her time get eaten by Brazile's monologues. To all appearances, she just wanted to be able to say that she'd asked.
That said, Maddow stages quite a few charades.
Two nights later, Brazile appeared with Megyn Kelly on Fox. This time, the rules were different. After a discussion of another topic, Kelly inquired about Purloined Questiongate. This was the initial exchange:
KELLY (10/19/16): You say that you play, that you play straight up, but I have to ask you, because you were accused—Kelly's question was quite direct. You'll note that Brazile hadn't answered it yet.
BRAZILE: Oh, I do, Kelly.
KELLY: —you were accused of receiving a debate question before CNN Town Hall where they partnered with TV One and that, that you had this question on March 12th, that—that verbatim, verbatim, was provided by Roland Martin to CNN the next day. How did you get that question, Donna?
BRAZILE: Well, Kelly, since I play straight up, and I play straight up with you, I did not receive any questions from CNN. Let's just be very clear.
This time, the anchor persisted. As Kelly tried to restate her question, Brazile kept overtalking. With minor editing, this transcript comes straight from Nexis. Part of this was played again on Monday's Kelly File:
KELLY (continuing directly): Where did you get it? Where did you get it?It went on and on from there. Kelly was asking a rather straightforward question. As a Christian woman, Brazile was unwilling to be persecuted, especially by someone who wanted to talk about stolen material.
BRAZILE: First of all, what information are you providing to me that will allow me to see what, what you're talking about? Everybody—
KELLY: You've got the WikiLeaks released in March 12—
BRAZILE: —released and inquired (ph) the information—
KELLY: —Podesta e-mail showing you messaging—
BRAZILE: I don't—I don't—
KELLY: —the Clinton campaign with the exact wording of a question asked at the March 13th—
KELLY: —CNN TV One Town Hall—
KELLY: Where did you get it?
BRAZILE: I, you know, as a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted because your information is solely false. What you're—what you're telling the American people—
KELLY: I'm getting it from Podesta email.
BRAZILE: What, what you're—what—what you're— Well, Podesta's emails were stolen. So you're so interested in talking about stolen material.
KELLY: So you deny it?
BRAZILE: You're like—you're like thief that want to bring into the night the things that you found that was in the data. I'm not— Let me just say what I say since Day One—
KELLY: CNN's Jake Tapper came out and said this was unethical. Somebody was unethically helping the Clinton Campaign. He said, "I love Donna Brazile, but this is very, very upsetting."
BRAZILE: And I love—I love CNN and I love Jake...
Perhaps for that reason, no answer was ever provided.
In essence, Maddow and Kelly had asked the same question about the same material. Rather, the liberal host pretended to ask the question. The conservative host actually did.
Let's put that another way. Maddow pretended to question her guest, assuming that we liberal viewers were too dumb to see that she wasn't actually trying to get an answer. Kelly kept following up.
That made for a gruesome session on Fox. Conservative viewers were exposed to Brazile's unattractive, silly evasions. On the whole, we the liberals were spared.
In this particular instance, Kelly seemed to know what we need; Rachel seemed to know what we want. That said, viewers of each of these cable shows get played a good deal of the time.