Lee Fang: TV Pundits Praise Hillary Clinton On Air, Fail to Disclose Financial Ties to Her Campaign

February 26, 2016
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Lee Fang

is an investigative journalist at The Intercept covering the intersection of money and politics.

"I think Hillary Clinton has done everything right," says Stephanie Cutter in a recent "Meet the Press" panel, in which she is introduced as a Democratic campaign expert. But she failed to disclose that the firm she co-founded, Precision Strategies, was retained by the Clinton campaign for "digital consulting." "This is just one of many examples" notes The Intercept’s Lee Fang, who analyzed more than 50 different TV news segments. He discusses his latest article, "TV Pundits Praise Hillary Clinton On Air, Fail to Disclose Financial Ties to Her Campaign."


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about your recent piece headlined "TV Pundits Praise Hillary Clinton On Air, Fail to Disclose Financial Ties to Her Campaign." First, this is a clip of one of those pundits, Stephanie Cutter, who’s appeared multiple—on multiple networks discussing Hillary Clinton, usually introduced as a former campaign official for President Barack Obama. But you reveal the firm she co-founded, called Precision Strategies, was retained by the Clinton campaign for digital consulting. Can you set up this piece for us that we’re about to play from NBC’s Meet the Press?

LEE FANG: Certainly. You know, we looked at a number of pundits who appear on television on cable and network news. They’re introduced as neutral campaign experts, as pundits, and they give commentary on the presidential campaign, saying that, you know, Hillary is doing well in the debates, she has a strong campaign, she’s on the path to victory. But in many cases, these pundits haven’t been disclosed that they have financial ties to the Hillary campaign, working either directly for the Hillary for America campaign or paid by the Hillary super PACs.

AMY GOODMAN: Clip from NBC’s Meet the Press.

STEPHANIE CUTTER: I think that Hillary Clinton has done everything right. She has run a good campaign. She has outperformed in debates. She’s raised money. She’s got a great ground game. But what she can’t control is this string of anger that is connecting both parties right now. It’s what’s given rise to Trump. It’s what’s given rise—

HUGH HEWITT: Here is what she hasn’t done right. She—

CHUCK TODD: I was just going to say, that’s an—I agree—I agree with Stephanie here.

STEPHANIE CUTTER: And that—the Republicans have not figured out how to handle it.

CHUCK TODD: That it’s impacted, though—but it has impacted the Democrat—

STEPHANIE CUTTER: And the Democrats haven’t—and that’s the rise of Bernie Sanders. And it struck me, when I was watching the two interviews, that he’s got this sense of anger and injustice about the economy, and she’s talking about advanced manufacturing. And there’s a difference in that, when you’re two weeks out from an Iowa caucus.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s Stephanie Cutter, and she’s being interviewed on Meet the Press by Chuck Todd. So, Lee Fang, explain what we don’t know when we hear her speak and she’s introduced.

LEE FANG: Well, Cutter was—on Meet the Press was introduced as a former Obama campaign official, a Democratic campaign expert, but wasn’t—what was not disclosed was that the firm that she co-founded, Precision Strategies, has been retained for consulting work by the Hillary campaign throughout last year, including the time that she came on NBC’s Meet the Press to discuss the campaign and the state of the race.

But, you know, this is just one of many examples. For example, we analyzed transcripts for 50 different segments in which CNN had one of their contributors, Maria Cardona, come on and discuss and largely praise Hillary Clinton. What wasn’t disclosed is that Maria Cardona—her lobbying firm, Dewey Square Group, has multiple financial ties to the Hillary Clinton campaign. They’re retained by both of the big pro-Hillary super PACs. Maria is a campaign contributor to the Hillary campaign. She’s also a superdelegate that’s pledged her support to the Hillary campaign. But in virtually all of these CNN segments, Maria has been asked to come on to the air, and she’s praised the Hillary campaign, but she’s been presented as an objective pundit who’s just there to discuss the state of the race.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to link to your pieces, Lee Fang. Thanks so much for being with us, investigative journalist at The Intercept covering the intersection of money and politics.

When we come back from break, a young woman who interrupted Hillary Clinton’s private fundraiser this week in Charleston, South Carolina. Stay with us.


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