Recently on ABC’s “This Week” a debate sparked regarding the media’s hand in helping Russia hack into the 2016 presidential election. The arguement involved former DNC chair Donna Brazile, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, NPR’s Steve Inskeep and Washington bureau chief of The New York Times Elizabeth Bumiller.
Partial transcript as follows:
KARL: But let me ask you, this indictment makes it clear this was a Russian military intelligence operation that hacked these emails, and as you said it dominated the news for a good part of the campaign. Does the news media writ-large bear some of the responsibility?
KARL: Well, all of us.
CHRISTIE: You bet.
KARL: Over day after day…
KARL: Reported the substance and details of these emails that were stolen by…
BRAZILE: Blew it out of proportion. 184 times. What WikiLeaks did once they received the information is they used it strategically each day to shape the political narrative. And the media played it up. It was the only story. It was very difficult to break through the media once that became the story of the day. It was a very highly sophisticated cyberoperation that had to involve someone who understood how to shape this narrative.
BUMILLER: It’s certainly true. But what would you have the media do? Just say we’re not going to touch this.
BRAZILE: You should have said this information is from stolen hacked emails and the lives that you put at risk when this happened, the lives you put at risk when you used this information and weaponized it, it went right to the heart of what Mr. Putin was trying to do in our election.
CHRISTIE: Jon, let’s be candid. I was working on the other side from time to time.
BRAZILE: Wehn in hindsight.
CHRISTIE: But the point is that we live in a media culture today that only cares about getting whatever is new first. And the idea of what damage that may cause or not cause becomes a secondary or even tertiary concern.
And, you know, Donna is right, people were put at risk here in a way, because of the way this was played that was irresponsible. There should have been a lot more work done on this done before…
KARL: Well, the RNC was pushing this stuff out pretty…
INSKEEP: I want to agree with one word that Donald Brazile used. You talked about a narrative. If embarrassing information is out there about you, and there was embarrassing information about you, we got to report it. We can’t pretend it’s not there.
BRAZILE: But you got hacked information, because you had hacked stolen emails. You had half of my files. You didn’t have my whole files.
What Putin wanted to do, and it wasn’t personal — look, I understood it wasn’t personal, so I didn’t take it personally. That’s why I kept doing my job. And my job every day was to try to focus on the election.
But what your job was, was to say that these are hacked, stolen emails. And they came from a corrupted source. And you knew enough to say that but you didn’t do that.
INSKEEP: Well, there’s where I would agree with you is that the media should be careful about the narrative that they sketch and what is the story that’s being told.
CHRSITIE: It was given complete credibility.
INSKEEP: I would defend my news organization.
BUMILLER: And I would also say that the reason we know much about this is because of what we wrote, the story called “The Perfect Weapon” where we went through this. Eric Lipton, David Sanger, Scott Shane.
INSKEEP: I agree.
BUMILLER: The reason you know much about this — and knew about it so early was because of the reporting we did afterward and went through the entire narrative step by step.
BRAZILE: We worked with your reporters. And I appreciate the work that you guys did. I really do.
CHRISTIE: But remember one other thing, though, here is that that was all after the fact. But at the time you were playing this, the media was playing this at the time as if this was credible sourcing. And what Donna said is absolutely right, you had to know they didn’t have all of her emails. They just took the most embarrassing ones. And you can’t assess the credibility of somebody who is just part of a story, but the media banged her and a lot of other people in the Clinton campaign unfairly.
KARL: We have to take a break. We have to take a quick break. We will be back with more of the roundtable.