Former NBC host David Gregory ran to Hillary Clinton's defense on Thursday's New Day over her refusal to answer Jorge Ramos's question about a possible indictment related to her e-mail scandal. When CNN's Chris Cuomo wondered if it was a fair question, Gregory replied, "I think it was a little too heavy. I think there's no reason to suspect that she's even a target in a criminal probe....I thought it was a bit pointed as a question, and I think it was fair for her not to answer." [video below]
Anchor Alisyn Camerota interjected in the middle of the liberal journalist's answer that "Donald Trump says...she's not even going to be able to finish this race" if she's indicted. Gregory bluntly retorted that "just because Donald Trump says it doesn't mean that there's a good basis to, as a journalist, to ask the question."
The former NBC anchor certainly has experience with asking "pointed" questions. Back in May 2011, Gregory asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press, "You gave a speech in Georgia with language a lot of people think could be coded racially-tinged language, calling the President, the first black President, a 'food stamp President.'...What did you mean? What was the point?"
CNN correspondent Maeve Reston emphasized that "considering how much Republicans are talking about this — constantly on the stump, particularly Donald Trump — it is...an opportunity for her to address it. And she seemed totally taken back by the question...almost angry about it."
Cuomo then pointed out, "Well, it wound up playing against the questioner, which is sometimes a risk of a provocative question." He added that "she was strong when challenged." He asked CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, "What's the plus/minus on it?" Brownstein disagreed slightly with Gregory: "It was reasonable for her not to answer, but I also thought it was not completely unreasonable for him to ask." He also agreed with Cuomo that "the hall certainly turned against the questioner."
The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion segment from the March 10, 2016 edition of CNN's New Day:
CHRIS CUOMO: Let's get to the other big moment of the night, because you had — it came from the moderator, Jorge Ramos, asking a question about — not e-mails; not the investigation; but the eventuality of an indictment and what that would mean for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Let's play it.
[CNN Graphic: "2016 Election: Clinton & Sanders Face Off After Michigan Shocker"]
JORGE RAMOS (from Univision Democratic presidential debate): Secretary Clinton, the question was, who gave you permission to — to operate? Was it President Obama?
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was no permission to be asked. It had been done by my predecessors. It was permitted. I didn't have to ask anyone.
RAMOS: If you get indicted, would you drop out?
CLINTON: Oh, for goodness — that is not going to happen. I'm not even answering that question. (audience cheers and applauds)
MAEVE RESTON: Ooh!
CUOMO: First question, as we're all journalists here: fair question?
[CNN Graphic: "Clinton Dodges Question On Whether She'll Drop Out If Indicted"]
DAVID GREGORY: I think it was a little too heavy. I think there's no reason to suspect that she's even a target in a criminal probe—
ALISYN CAMEROTA: But that's what — all the Republicans — Donald Trump says she's going to be — she's not even going to be able to finish this race.
GREGORY: Right. But just because Donald Trump says it doesn't mean that there's a good basis to — to, as a journalist, to ask the question. I thought it was a bit pointed as a question, and I think it was fair for her not to answer.
[CNN Graphic: "RNC Sues Over Clinton's State Dept. Email Records"]
RESTON: Although — I mean, considering how much Republicans are talking about this — constantly on the stump, particularly Donald Trump — it is, you know, an opportunity for her to address it. And she seemed totally taken back by the question — you know, almost angry about it — and it was just sort of a really—
[CNN Graphic: "Clinton On Email Indictment: 'Not Going To Happen'"]
CUOMO: Well, it wound up playing against the questioner—
RESTON: Right — sure—
CUOMO: Which is sometimes a risk of a provocative question — or so I've heard—
[CNN Graphic: "Clinton Grilled On Emails, Benghazi & Trust At Debate"]
RON BROWNSTEIN: Jorge was not shy in provocative phrasing the question. That's not his style—
CUOMO: I mean, she was — she was strong when challenged—
CUOMO: Now, so what's the plus/minus on it?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think — I'm more with Maeve. I mean, I think — you know, it was reasonable for her not to answer, but I also thought it was not completely unreasonable for him to ask, because people—
CUOMO: Well, she didn't not (sic) answer. She said, 'It's not going to happen'—
BROWNSTEIN: Going to happen — right—
RESTON: 'For goodness sake'—
BROWNSTEIN: No. Look, it got her an opportunity to, kind of, make that case. I think, on balance — you know, as you said — I mean, the hall certainly turned against the questioner.