NYT Repents for Sin of Covering Hillary’s Leaked E-Mails

April 22nd, 2018 8:27 PM

Amy Chozick, who covered the Hillary Clinton campaign for the New York Times and wrote the new campaign book Chasing Hillary, has an essay on the front of the paper's Sunday Review in which she sports sackcloth and ashes for the sin of actually reporting on publicly available emails leaked from the Clinton campaign -- while ignoring all the dirty details in the emails themselves:

WikiLeaks tweeted a link to emails from the Gmail account of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, including excerpts from her speeches to Wall Street firms.

Chozick berated herself for actually reporting anti-Hillary information that dropped in her lap, courtesy of WikiLeaks.

But it wasn’t a scoop. It was more like a bank heist.

Editors and reporters huddled to discuss how to handle the emails. Everyone agreed that since the emails were already out there -- and of importance to voters -- it was The Times’s job to “confirm” and “contextualize” them. I didn’t argue that it appeared the emails were stolen by a hostile foreign government that had staged an attack on our electoral system. I didn’t push to hold off on publishing them until we could have a less harried discussion. I didn’t raise the possibility that we’d become puppets in Vladimir Putin’s master plan. I chose the byline.

In December, after the election, my colleagues in Washington wrote a Pulitzer-winning article about how the Russians had pulled off the perfect hack....

The Bernie Bros and Mr. Trump’s Twitter trolls had called me a donkey-faced whore and a Hillary shill, but nothing hurt worse than my own colleagues calling me a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence. The worst part was, they were right.

Funny, the Times was a lot more supportive of email leaks (of classified documents, no less) when the leaks damaged Republicans.

Chozick apologized for covering the Podesta emails, without reminding readers what they revealed -- evidence that the Democratic National Committee, especially then-chairperson Donna Brazile, were trying to rig the Democratic primary for Hillary Clinton. Eliza Collins at USA Today summarized the “juiciest” findings, including examples of favoritism toward Clinton during her nomination fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders.

But Chozick skipped it. Instead, she accepted what certainly sounded like blame for Trump being elected.

They were Facebook algorithms and data breaches. They were Fake News drummed up by Vladimir Putin’s digital army. They were shadowy hackers who stole her campaign chairman’s emails hoping to weaken our democracy with Mr. Podesta’s risotto recipe. And they were The Times and me and all the other journalists who covered those stolen emails.

Chozick had a single paragraph vaguely admitting how Clinton’s staff had “enabled all of her worst instincts since the 1990s” and pointing out that the Russians “didn’t hack into her calendar and delete the Wisconsin rallies.” Then it was back to poor John Podesta. She relayed a story meant to further our sympathy for Podesta, about finding what appeared to be the phone of Podesta’s assistant in the restroom:

....I left the phone sitting there, worried that if I turned it in, even touched it again, aides would think I had snooped. This seemed a violation that would at best get my invitation to the headquarters rescinded and at worst get me booted off the beat for unethical behavior.

I can’t explain why, in the heat of breaking news, I thought covering John Podesta’s hacked emails was any different.

Another takeaway: Yet more confirmation that the Clinton campaign’s email security was lax.