CBS Issues Hollow Denial About Its 2015 Failure to Ask Kerry About Hillary's Emails, Private Server

October 9th, 2016 2:56 PM

As Mike Ciandella at NewsBusters noted Thursday morning, newly obtained documents indicate that the White House and Secretary of State John Kerry's underlings worked aggressively to "crush" any chance that he might be questioned about Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email account for public business or her stationing of a private server registered under a pseudonym at her Chappaqua, New York home on the March 15 edition of Face the Nation — and he wasn't.

Fox News, apparently alone among the major broadcast and cable networks, aired a segment on the matter on Friday. It included a weak response from CBS. Additionally, a review of the transcript from the related Face the Nation broadcast shows that Mrs. Clinton's email and private server were discussed — just not with Kerry.

Kerry's Hillary-free Face the Nation interview came shortly after early March 2015 news reports about Mrs. Clinton's unprecedented and objectively criminal (though never properly labeled by the press) email and computer practices appeared.

Fox News's Mike Emanuel covered this story on Friday, including CBS's highly suspect denial and the Obama administration's risible ritual reference to "transparency":

Transcript (bolds are mine):

JENNA LEE: New information on what some consider another controversy dogging Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

Documents obtained by the Republican National Committee revealing the White House coordinated with the Clinton campaign regarding the damage control over her use of private e-mail. Our senior political correspondent Mike Emanuel is outside Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York. Mike?

MIKE EMANUEL: Well, hi Jenna. Yeah, these e-mails were obtained by the Republican National Committee through a Freedom Of Information Act request of the State Department. Some were shared with Fox News.

They reveal close coordination between Jennifer Palmieri, who was at the White House and had announced that she was heading to the Clinton campaign, and Jen Psaki who was at the State Department and ultimately replaced Palmieri at the White House.

They were tried to make sure Secretary of State John Kerry would not face questions that weekend about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her time at the State Department.

Palmieri e-mailed Psaki on March 12th, 2015: "Think we can get this done so he is not asked about e-mail." Psaki replied, "Agree completely and working to crush on my end." Then a day later, March 13th, Psaki e-mailed: "Good to go on killing CBS idea." CBS News ended up with a interview of John Kerry in Egypt with their State Department correspondent and the e-mail server issue did not come up.

A CBS News spokesperson tells us, quote, "No subject was off-limits when this interview was arranged, as is the CBS News standard."

Now we've reached out to Jen Palmieri of the Clinton campaign. She has not replied to our request for comment. An Obama administration official responded a short time ago, saying they have been transparent about coordination between the Obama White House and the Clinton campaign about issues relating to her time as Secretary of State.

CBS's "response" doesn't seem genuinely responsive, especially given that asking about Mrs. Clinton's emails and private server was, according to Psaki, a "CBS idea." The issue isn't what was the case when the interview was "arranged," i.e., scheduled. The issue is what might have became off-limits after the interview was arranged and before cameras began rolling for the prerecorded (and likely edited) interview replayed in the opening moments of that March 2015 Face the Nation broadcast.

A Google News search and other efforts to find related stories indicates that only The Wall Street Journal, which appears to have broken the story, The Hill and the Washington Post have given the story any attention among the nation's establishment press outlets. The Post report by Juliet Eilperin contains the fullest version I could find of CBS's response:

CBS spokeswoman Caitlin Conant said the network did not negotiate with administration officials over what questions its State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan could ask Kerry.

“No subject was off limits when this interview was arranged, as is the CBS News standard,” Conant said. “CBS News’s State Department correspondent was in Egypt with Secretary John Kerry in the home stretch of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations and discussed policy issues of the day with him on this official trip.”

Asked whether the administration sought to influence CBS’s coverage of the email controversy, (White House deputy press secretary Eric) Schultz said, “That’s not my understanding. You’ll have to talk to the State Department about any engagements they had with media outlets."

"That's not my understanding"? Besides what's plainly in the emails, the White House's Schultz should have been in a position to inquire internally as to whether there were any other less visible attempts to "influence" the coverage if he didn't know about them himself. This looks like an unacceptable version of the "How would I know? I just work here" dodge.

As to CBS's claim that it "did not negotiate," excuse the cynicism, but there is no negotiation involved when you simply do what you're told to do, and the result obtained would seem to indicate that this was the case.

As Fox News's Emanuel reported on Friday, Kerry indeed escaped any questioning about Mrs. Clinton's e-mail escapades and her use of a private server, even though he was the person in the best position to explain how Mrs. Clinton's practices violated State Department policies, related laws, and regulations with the force of law. Separately, by having his interview taped instead of appearing on live TV, he conveniently avoided having to confront Senator Tom Cotton, who had just written an open letter to Iran explaining that the nuclear "deal" which was then being "negotiated" with that country by the Obama administration and Kerry is (and remains), under the U.S. Constitution, not legally binding.

Fox and the few other outlets covering this story have failed to note an obvious reason why there has been so much "coordination between the Obama White House and the Clinton campaign," and why its paeans to "transparency" ring so hollow. It's that Obama himself was recently shown to be vulnerable to many of the same criminal charges Hillary Clinton escaped, and that his culpability explains why she escaped.

Andrew McCarthy at National Review explained this on September 26:

Obama’s Conflict Tanked the Clinton E-mail Investigation — As Predicted
Hillary couldn’t be proven guilty without proving the president guilty as well.

... we now know for certain what I predicted some eight months ago here at NRO: Any possibility of prosecuting Hillary Clinton was tanked by President Obama’s conflict of interest.

As I explained in February, when it emerged that the White House was refusing to disclose at least 22 communications Obama had exchanged with then-secretary Clinton over the latter’s private e-mail account, we knew that Obama had knowingly engaged in the same misconduct that was the focus of the Clinton probe: the reckless mishandling of classified information.

To be sure, he did so on a smaller scale. Clinton’s recklessness was systematic: She intentionally set up a non-secure, non-government communications framework, making it inevitable that classified information would be mishandled, and that federal record-keeping laws would be flouted. Obama’s recklessness, at least as far as we know, was confined to communications with Clinton — although the revelation that the man presiding over the “most transparent administration in history” set up a pseudonym to conceal his communications obviously suggests that his recklessness may have been more widespread.

Still, the difference in scale is not a difference in kind. In terms of the federal laws that criminalize mishandling of classified information, Obama not only engaged in the same type of misconduct Clinton did; he engaged in it with Clinton. It would not have been possible for the Justice Department to prosecute Clinton for her offense without its becoming painfully apparent that 1) Obama, too, had done everything necessary to commit a violation of federal law, and 2) the communications between Obama and Clinton were highly relevant evidence.

Getting back to the March 15, 2015 Face the Nation broadcast, it was obviously weak journalism to not to ask the current Secretary of State about Mrs. Clinton's emails and private server, given that a sizable portion of the last half of the broadcast was devoted to the "e-mails" (spelled that way in the program transcript, even though the Associated Press's Stylebook moved to get rid of the hyphen in that word in 2011).

One lowlight of that broadcast occurred when an "UNIDENTIFIED MALE" (yes, that's what the transcript says) crystallized the problem — and let Mrs. Clinton escape meaningful criticism:

... there has never been another secretary of State who -- or a secretary of any -- a head of any other government that we -- any other government agency we know of that has done what she did, which was proactively, at the very beginning, decide I'm going to set up my own parallel information infrastructure in my house and then after I leave office, I am going to be the sole judge and jury over what I'm going to release and then I'm going to destroy everything else.

I'm sorry, from the -- from the perspective of history, that just looks weird.

That's right. It's not illegal, or criminal, or unethical, or arrogant, or sneaky — just "weird."

Sometimes one wonders why the establishment press even bothers with journalists, when its outlets could simply slap together press releases from the White House, the Democratic Party, its political candidates and consultants and save millions, if not billions, in payroll costs.

Cross-posted at