CNN's Tapper: TVOne Anchor Leaked Town Hall Question to Brazile

On WMAL's Mornings on the Mall on Thursday, CNN's Jake Tapper revealed his "understanding" about what happened surrounding the leaked town hall question to the Hillary Clinton campaign: "This was a Roland Martin follow-up. So, my understanding is that he, or...somebody on his team got that question to Donna Brazile." Brazile apparently then sent the question to Hillary Clinton's campaign, as revealed by Wikileaks' release of John Podesta's e-mails on Tuesday. [audio of Tapper interview available here]

Host Brian Wilson, formerly of Fox News, asked Tapper about Brazile forwarding the town hall question to the Clinton camp: "[Brazile] sends an e-mail to the campaign — saying, 'Sometimes, I get an advanced look at the questions' — and this all had to do with the town hall — and it now appears that the question was actually cut and paste from an e-mail that Roland Martin had sent around, who was one of the moderators."

The CNN anchor replied by pointing out that he was the other moderator of that March 2016 town hall, and decried the whole incident:

JAKE TAPPER: It's very, very troubling. Look, I have — I have tremendous regard for Donna Brazile, and she's a good person and a nice person; and I like her a lot. But the action — whatever took place here — and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN — we were so closely guarding our documents...they weren't ever e-mailed around. And this was a — I think this was a follow-up question that Roland Martin was going to ask, theoretically.

CNN had found a freed prisoner — somebody who had been on death row, but because of the Innocence Project, had been taken off death row....we wanted to put her [Clinton] in the tough situation. Here, you support the death penalty; here, somebody who was almost killed...because of the death penalty, what's your reaction to him? And we thought that that was great. And then, to find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign — tipping them off — is just very, very upsetting.

Wilson followed up by asking, "Is there any kind of investigation ongoing? How is that possible that could have happened?" Tapper responded by pointing the finger at Martin or his staff: "My understanding is...that the e-mail to Donna came from either Roland Martin or someone around Roland Martin....He's with TV One — or something like that — that we had partnered with for that town hall. And this was not one of CNN's questions. This was...a Roland Martin follow-up."

The journalist repeated his condemnation of the whole Brazile leak near the end of the segment: "People at CNN take it very, very seriously; and to have somebody who does not take it seriously — to have us partner with that person; and then, they do something completely unethical and share it with Donna Brazile, who then shares it with the Clinton campaign, it's horrifying and very, very upsetting, and....I condemn it in no uncertain terms. It's awful."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Jake Tapper interview on the October 13, 2016 edition of WMAL's Mornings on the Mall:

BRIAN WILSON: Let me ask you, though, about another e-mail that had to with CNN, and had to do with Donna Brazile, who was—

JAKE TAPPER: Yeah—

WILSON: Was a contributor over there — and, I assume, a paid contributor over at CNN, and—

TAPPER: Yeah—

WILSON: And she sends an e-mail to the campaign — saying, 'Sometimes, I get an advanced look at the questions' — and this all had to do with the town hall — and it now appears that the question was actually cut and paste from an — from an e-mail that Roland Martin had sent around — who was one of the moderators of that very debate—

TAPPER: Yeah, with me — I was the — I was the other moderator—
        
WILSON: All right. So—

TAPPER: It was a town hall, not a debate — but yeah. I mean—

WILSON: Well—
                                        
TAPPER: It's very, very troubling. Look, I have — I have tremendous regard for — for Donna Brazile, and she's — she's a good person and a nice person; and I like her a lot. But the action — whatever took place here — and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN — we were so closely guarding our documents, you couldn't even — they weren't ever e-mailed around. And this was a — I think this was a follow-up question that Roland Martin was going to ask, theoretically.

CNN had found a — a freed prisoner — somebody who had been on death row, but because of the Innocence Project, had been taken off death row. I believe his name was Rickie Jackson — if I'm getting that wrong, I apologize. And, you know, we wanted to put her [Clinton] in the tough situation. Here, you support the death penalty; here, somebody who was almost killed on — because of the death penalty, what's — what's your reaction to him? And we thought that that was great. And then, to find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign — tipping them off — is just very, very upsetting—

WILSON: Well, that — I have to follow up on that — and that is, that — that somebody works, I would assume, for CNN. Is there any kind of investigation ongoing? How is that possible that could have happened?

TAPPER: I — well, you're talking about — you're saying that that person was Donna Brazile—

LARRY O'CONNOR: Well, but, somehow, Donna Brazile got hold of the questions—

WILSON: How did she get it? Yeah. How did she get it?

TAPPER: I believe that — look, I don't know for — a hundred percent. I know that I had nothing to do with it. My understanding is there — there has been a — that — that the e-mail to Donna came from either Roland Martin or someone around Roland Martin — who was not with CNN. He's with a different channel. He's with TV One — or something like that — that we had partnered with for that town hall. And this was not one of CNN's questions. This was Roland Martin — a Roland Martin follow-up. So, my understanding is—

O'CONNOR: I see—

TAPPER: That he, or his — somebody on his team — got that question to Donna Brazile—

O'CONNOR: Gotcha—

TAPPER: It was not part of the CNN list of questions—

O'CONNOR: (laughs) What an incredible—

TAPPER: But I'm not trying to — I'm not trying to — it's horrifying—

O'CONNOR: Yeah—

TAPPER: Journalistically, it's horrifying — absolutely — and I'm sure it will have an impact on partnering with — with this organization in the future. And I'm sure that it will have an effect on — Donna Brazile is no longer with CNN, because she's head of the DNC right now—

WILSON: Right—

TAPPER: But I'm sure it will have some impact on — on Donna Brazile. And it's very, very upsetting, because you go through a huge — and you could ask Hugh Hewitt about this — when we do these events — whether a debate or a town hall — we have a cone of silence—

O'CONNOR: Yeah—

TAPPER: Documents get shredded. We do not e-mail them around. Believe me, it was really annoying. I was doing the town hall with Obama two weeks ago — and I was on the road for a lot of days before that — and they would not e-mail me questions—

WILSON: Yeah—

TAPPER: Because they do not — because of fears of hacking; because fears of leaking. There is — they have — people at CNN take it very, very seriously; and to have somebody who does not take it seriously — to have us partner with that person; and then, they do something completely unethical and share it with Donna Brazile, who then shares it with the Clinton campaign, it's — it's horrifying and very, very upsetting, and—

WILSON: All right—

TAPPER: I mean, I can't — I can't condemn it any more than — I condemn it in — in no uncertain terms. It's awful.

WILSON: All right. Okay, we're going to have to leave it right there, Jake, but thank you so much for being willing to discuss these very delicate issues. We greatly appreciate it.


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Tell the Truth 2016 NBDaily Campaign Watch Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Debates CNN Radio Audio Roland Martin Jake Tapper Brian Wilson Larry O'Connor Hillary Clinton Donna Brazile
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