Halperin: Leaked Clinton Campaign E-Mails Too ‘Complicated’ for Voters to Care About

Appearing on Wednesday’s NBC Today, Bloomberg Politics editor Mark Halperin tried to dismiss the importance of Clinton campaign e-mails released by Wikileaks as being too “inside baseball” and “complicated” for voters to grasp. He then argued the issue would only matter if journalists actually pressed the Democratic nominee on the topic.

Following a report from correspondent Kristen Welker on Hillary Clinton “facing more tough questions about hacked e-mails,” co-host Matt Lauer asked Halperin: “Mark, scale of one to ten, one being a non-event, ten being a campaign-shaking event, where do these Wikileaks documents fall for Hillary Clinton?” Halperin replied: “Three today with the potential to go to eight as reporters dig in to some of this stuff and more come.”

Noting that Clinton “needs to attract millennials” to vote for her in November, Lauer followed up: “In some weird way, does the Wikileaks thing matter more to millennials because they live in a digital world?” Halperin promptly rejected the notion:

I don’t think so. Most of the things that have come out so far are such inside baseball, they’re complicated stories. And unlike the controversies involving Donald Trump, they don't directly involve Hillary Clinton, they involve her team. We'll have to see how stuff develops and whether it gets closer to her.

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Despite those assertions, co-host Savannah Guthrie saw a real problem for Clinton:

But it does feed a perception that already exists about Hillary Clinton  because you do see a lot of these, kind of, behind-the-scenes machinations, “What should her position be on this? What’s the political fallout of that?” Which is one of the things that people don’t like Hillary Clinton for. They think she just says what’s expedient.

Halperin still insisted that the story wouldn’t go anywhere – unless journalists actually did their job and questioned Clinton: “Unless we see her react to this stuff, unless reporters can get to her and question her about it and she's forced to respond, it just doesn't get in front of any type of voters the way this Trump stuff is right now.”

In the earlier report, Welker mentioned: “In one e-mail that’s raising questions about a possible conflict of interest, Clinton press secretary and former Justice Department official Brian Fallon writing that he was in contact with DOJ about lawsuits over Clinton’s e-mail issues, writing, quote, ‘DOJ folks inform me there is a status hearing in the case.’”

Beyond that bombshell, other e-mails showed Clinton staffers using anti-Catholic rhetoric and reporters colluding with the campaign to provide favorable coverage. NBC ignored those revelations.

In another report at the top of the 8 a.m. ET hour, correspondent Andrea Mitchell also touched on the e-mails, but kept the focus on the investigation into the source of the leaks rather than the content:

But it’s the thousands of hacked e-mails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's account, e-mails not independently authenticated by NBC News, that have Trump on the attack....In fact, U.S. intelligence officials say Wikileaks and other groups leaking hacked e-mails are working with Russia. And now Podesta says it's apparently being done to help Donald Trump.

A clip played of Mitchell teeing up Podesta to change the subject to that investigation: “Do we know whether the FBI is investigating that link to the Trump campaign?” Podesta replied: “I’ve been contacted by the FBI. They are investing the matter.”  

Wrapping up the segment, Mitchell briefly noted one of the revelations: “Those hacked e-mails appear to reveal Clinton's initial reluctance to oppose the Keystone Pipeline, until Bernie Sanders surged in New Hampshire.” She then remarked: “A story that would be getting a lot more attention if Donald Trump weren't conducting open warfare against his own party.”

If, as Halperin suggested, the public is relying on the liberal media to hammer Clinton on the controversy, they’ll be left sorely disappointed.

Here is a full transcript of the October 12 panel discussion with Halperin:

7:10 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Mark, scale of one to ten, one being a non-event, ten being a campaign-shaking event, where do these Wikileaks documents fall for Hillary Clinton?                               

MARK HALPERIN: Three today with the potential to go to eight as reporters dig in to some of this stuff and more come. Kind of extraordinary that the chairman of the Democratic nominee’s campaign is accusing Russia of colluding with the Republican nominee and it’s not the lead story.                                       

LAUER: Hillary Clinton needs to attract millennials. In some weird way, does the Wikileaks thing matter more to millennials because they live in a digital world?

HALPERIN: I don’t think so. Most of the things that have come out so far are such inside baseball, they’re complicated stories. And unlike the controversies involving Donald Trump, they don't directly involve Hillary Clinton, they involve her team. We'll have to see how stuff develops and whether it gets closer to her.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: But it does feed a perception that already exists about Hillary Clinton  because you do see a lot of these, kind of, behind-the-scenes machinations, “What should her position be on this? What’s the political fallout of that?” Which is one of the things that people don’t like Hillary Clinton for. They think she just says what’s expedient.

NICOLLE WALLACE: That’s exactly right. And make no mistake about it, her rise in the polls is not a sign of her strength, it's a sign of his collapse. So these developments don't suggest that she's so strong and the voters are so attached to her that they can't hurt her, they suggest that before our very eyes the bottom is falling out of the Trump endeavor.

HALPERIN: Unless we see her react to this stuff, unless reporters can get to her and question her about it and she's forced to respond, it just doesn't get in front of any type of voters the way this Trump stuff is right now.

LAUER: Al Gore, on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton, we know he’s quite the environmental activist but he’s flown under the radar in terms of politics. Does he help her?

HALPERIN: I think he helps her get news coverage, people are talking about two themes that they want to emphasize, global warming, which does appeal to millennials, and the notion that everybody needs to turn out to vote or the election could be lost. It’s a little bit of a bank shot. Use Al Gore to attract coverage and then get that message out. I don't think Al Gore himself necessarily helps all that much with millennials.

GUTHRIE: But no accident that he’s campaigning in Florida, where, you know, it was a difference of 500 votes that changed –

WALLACE: Yeah, probably more raw for him than the Floridian swing voter, but he makes a point.

LAUER: Alright, Nicolle, Mark, thanks guys.

GUTHRIE: Thanks very much.

HALPERIN: Thank you. 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC