On FNC, CNN's Ex-President Defends Network's Handling of Brazile Leak

Former CNN president Jon Klein ran to his network's defense on Tuesday's Kelly File on Fox News Channel over their response to acting Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile's leak of a town hall question to Hillary Clinton's campaign. Klein reacted to Joe Concha of The Hill's call for an internal investigation of what happened by asserting that the people at CNN are "more worked up about the issue than Joe Concha is. I mean, they have much more at stake than anybody in making sure that their reputation is pristine." [video below]

Host Megyn Kelly first underlined to the former network head that "CNN has not said in any way that it's conducting an investigation. In fact, what they seem to be intimating is, we don't need to; we think we know what happened; and we're okay with our people's behavior. But the American people may not be okay with the behavior." Klein replied by boasting that "nothing is taken more seriously within the walls of CNN...than issues around the integrity of the place."

Kelly followed up by pointing out that in "the first WikiLeaks disclosure...she [Brazile] said, 'Sometimes, I get the questions in advance' — and she forwards...the exact question that Roland Martin first proposed asking." The guest underlined that "you wouldn't rest until you got to the bottom of that." This answer didn't satisfy the Fox News journalist, however, as she pressed Klein about another incident involving Brazile:

MEGYN KELLY: ...So then, another debate comes out with Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, and it happens again. They seem satisfied ...that nobody at CNN leaked that one to...Donna, that maybe one of the questioners at the town hall leaked it. I haven't seen any proof of that.

JON KLEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF CNN/U.S.: They think that Donna ran into one of these questioners, because she spent the day handing out water in Flint, and may have run into somebody—

KELLY: Well, that's a possibility, but how are we supposed to accept that as fact?

KLEIN: Well, they are more worked up about the issue than Joe Concha is. I mean, they have much more at stake than anybody in making sure that their reputation is pristine....So, I can only presume that they have run this down to the ends of the Earth, as far as they're concerned, and to their satisfaction. And I believe Jeff Zucker when he says that he finds it disgusting.

The former CNN president added that "at the end of the day, I hope this can be the death knell for the surrogates that all of the news networks employ — because it's predictable. As a viewer now — I've just been a viewer for six years — it's boring! We know what the Punch and Judy puppets are going to say every time."

Later in the segment, Klein underlined that Brazile "leaked this to the Hillary camp during the primaries. We don't know that she did not leak things to [Bernie] Sanders." Kelly countered by wondering, "How many other questions were leaked? We only have a little snippet." The guest asserted that "if you're CNN, you're saying, we've got great internal mechanisms. If this story dies down, we don't need to have a long, drawn-out, internal investigation. That's just going to create more headlines and more doubt. We're satisfied. The proof will be, are there no more leaks?"

The full transcript of the Jon Klein segment from Fox News Channel's The Kelly File on November 1, 2016:

Tell the Truth 2016

MEGYN KELLY: Developing tonight: growing calls for an investigation at CNN, after a high-profile contributor was accused of leaking debate questions to the Clinton campaign — not once, but twice, as it turns out. The accusations are aimed at Donna Brazile. She's the current acting DNC chair and a former CNN contributor— former as about a couple of days ago. CNN argues the fault is Brazile's, and Brazile's alone — but that's not good enough for some critics, who are arguing that the network's very integrity is on the line. Watch.

JOE CONCHA (from October 31, 2016 edition of Fox News Channel's On the Record): So CNN — and I called for this a couple of weeks ago; I'm going to do it again — needs to absolutely conduct an internal investigation by an outside firm to see where this cancer exists. And it wouldn't be hard to do. CNN is a proud organization. It's been around for 36 years. There's a lot of good journalists there. They don't deserve to be painted with this broad brush. But unless they do an internal investigation, integrity is going to be a big problem for that network — unless they show they're taking this seriously.

KELLY: That's Joe Concha of 'The Hill.'

Joining us now in a 'Kelly File' exclusive, Jon Klein, the former president of CNN U.S. and current CEO of TAPP Media. Jon, great to see you.

JON KLEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF CNN/U.S.: Nice to be here.

KELLY: Thanks for being here. So, what about that — because CNN has not said in any — in any way that it's conducting an investigation. In fact, what they seem to be intimating is, we don't need to; we think we know what happened; and — and we're okay with our people's behavior. But the American people may not be okay with the behavior.

KLEIN: Well, I think CNN has come to the conclusions they have because they've done an investigation. And they may not want to talk about all of the internal workings, but I can tell you that nothing is taken more seriously within the walls of CNN — both when I was there, which is — you know, six years ago — and today than issues around the integrity of the place; and they sweat a comma in a — in a report. I mean, they have an in-house unit headed by an executive vice president, which does nothing but try to anticipate problems or investigate problems—

KELLY: If you get a report like this — when we saw the first WikiLeaks disclosure that she said, 'Sometimes, I get the questions in advance' — and she forwards the exact, exact — I mean, it's verbatim — the exact question that Roland Martin first proposed asking. He shortened it in the actual debate. But what we have on paper is him sending it to CNN — saying, 'Here's what I want to ask' — and it was exactly the same. That's got to be DEFCON 5 (sic) at CNN.

KLEIN: Oh, my God — yeah! I mean, you wouldn't rest until you got to the bottom of that.

KELLY: So they clearly think that Roland Martin did that—

KLEIN: Yes, they do—

KELLY: They've made that pretty clear—

KLEIN: Oh, yes—

KELLY: Including journalists like Jake Tapper and others who were involved — and the journalists, as is their right and what they should do, is protect their own integrity and defend it. So then, another debate comes out with Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, and it happens again. They seem satisfied that there — that nobody at CNN leaked that one to Donald (sic) — Donna, that maybe one of the questioners at the town hall leaked it. I haven't seen any proof of that.

KLEIN: They think that Donna ran into one of these questioners, because she spent the day handing out water in Flint, and may have run into somebody—

KELLY: Well, that's a possibility, but how are we supposed to accept that as fact?

KLEIN: Well, they are more worked up about the issue than Joe Concha is. I mean, they have much more at stake than anybody in making sure that their reputation is pristine—

KELLY: Right—

KLEIN: So, I can only presume that they have run this down to the ends of the Earth, as far as they're concerned, and to their satisfaction. And I believe Jeff Zucker when he says that he finds it disgusting—

KELLY: Yeah—

KLEIN: I don't think it's surprising when you've got a partisan surrogate in your midst as a paid contributor—

KELLY: Yeah, but you're assuming she's an ethical person.

KLEIN: You are—

KELLY: That's cheating — what she did—

KLEIN: But, at the end of the day, I hope this can be the death knell for the surrogates that all of the news networks employ — because it's predictable. As a viewer now — I've just been a viewer for six years — it's boring! We know what the Punch and Judy puppets are going to say every time—

KELLY: Yes, but you also know—

KLEIN: Maybe, there can be a fresh start—

KELLY: And I know this is the case at CNN, too, because I'm friends with a lot of those guys — that that debate room is inviolate — nobody can get in there—

KLEIN: Oh, yes—

KELLY: Leaks would be unthinkable—

KLEIN: The cone of silence room — yeah—

KELLY: Right — and so, you — the problem is, something did happen in this circumstance, and you're not anticipating that Donna Brazile is somehow going to get her hands on your question and leak it. So, I don't — you know, you tell me how — why CNN should have anticipated that?

KLEIN: Oh, I think that—

KELLY: Like, why do we just have to fire the partisans as a result?

KLEIN: I think, at the end of the day, you know where people's loyalties ultimately lie. And they don't lie ultimately—

KELLY: Yeah, but just because they're loyal to — in the case, the Democrats — doesn't make you a cheater. She cheated.

KLEIN: First, I'm — I'm sure that, under pressure, she felt that she had something that could be helpful to the person or the cause that she is most loyal to—

KELLY: I'm sure she did—

KLEIN: By the way, she leaked this to the Hillary camp during the primaries. We don't know that she did not leak things to Sanders. WikiLeaks has—

KELLY: I think we can intimate—

KLEIN: WikiLeaks — only because WikiLeaks has spoon-fed us the Hillary stuff. Is there Sanders stuff? We don't know.

KELLY: I don't — I haven't heard from the Sanders people on this. So perhaps, they've got some enormous secret that they're keeping. But the other question is, how many—

KLEIN: Or they don't realize—

KELLY: How many other questions were leaked? We only have a little snippet. And so, you — what if Joe Concha's suggestion and that of others — that they need an outside investigator to come in at CNN, so we can trust CNN; so we don't have to worry; so the journalists can say — look, outside investigators said it wasn't us.

KLEIN: I think if you're CNN, you're saying, we've got great internal mechanisms. If this story dies down, we don't need to have a long, drawn-out, internal investigation. That's just going to create more headlines and more doubt. We're satisfied. The proof will be, are there no more leaks?

KELLY: Jon Klein, great to see you.

KLEIN: You, too.


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