On Aug. 4, 2015, The Post reported that the FBI was “looking into the security of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail setup.” Big news, and big repercussions inside the Clinton campaign.

Oh, to know what top campaign operatives were thinking! Thanks to a WikiLeaks dump of emails involving campaign chairman John Podesta, the American public needn’t wait for some tell-all, post-election recap. An Aug. 7, 2015, email exchange finds campaign leaders hard at work fashioning just the right statement on what would turn out to be a campaign-long issue for Clinton. “I understand that many Americans have questions about the stories they hear on the news about emails and servers,” reads a draft statement, in part. “As I said back in March, it clearly would’ve been better if I’d just used a government email account. Using a personal email account was a mistake, plain and simple. I am committed to doing everything I can to clear up any remaining confusion about this. That’s why I’ve asked the State Department to publish 55,000 pages of my work emails. I’ve also repeatedly offered to answer questions before Congress and I look forward to doing so in October.”

Amid the chatter about how best to craft the statement, PR types riffed on how to roll out a broader Clinton response. Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri had one person in mind to sit with the candidate:

What should we do about getting options to her? I rank them in order of my personal preference; 1 )Monday interview w/ Andrea Mitchell in NH (w/ a Sunday prep). 2) Sunday interview with Andrea Mitchell (Saturday prep)  3) Monday avail in NH (w/ Sunday prep)
I think option 1 gives us best shot of press, Dems and voters feel like she addressed the questions about the emails

One observer drew this conclusion from the email:

But did the Clinton camp actually get a friendly interview on the email scandal? You be the judge. On Sept. 4, Mitchell conducted a nearly half-hour-long interview with Clinton. The first 12-plus minutes were all email: Mitchell pressed Clinton on whether she was sorry for her email conduct; whether she wished to apologize; why the State Department help desk couldn’t “recognize”; whether Clinton was concerned that people don’t “trust your answers on this”; how she decided which emails to delete; whether Clinton was just trying to shield her correspondence from prying eyes; whether there was any precedent for anyone at her level of government using an exclusive private email setup; whether the whole mess raises judgment questions.

When it comes to assessing whether MSNBC interviews were softies, it’s best to turn to mainstream media watchdogs NewsBusters. In a posting on the matter, Kyle Drennen knocked Mitchell for starting off “gently” but also noted that she followed up. Elsewhere, the PoliticusUSA site blasted the interview: “MSNBC Blows Hillary Clinton Exclusive Interview By Obsessing Over Her Emails.” Mitchell later said she had even more questions but feared that Clinton would walk away.

Reviews and postgame analysis notwithstanding, the interview was pure journalism — and not an exchange of leniency and access.

The particulars of this instance raise a larger point about the back-and-forth in the Podesta emails released by WikiLeaks. There’s a lot of loose talk in them about this journalist or that journalist. What matters, though, is the work that results.

For another example of this dynamic, consider Maggie Haberman, the former Politico reporter who now covers the presidential campaign for the New York Times. As Glenn Greenwald and Lee Fang noted in the Intercept, Haberman starred in a January 2015 memo from Team Clinton that said, “We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed.” After examining stories by Haberman that followed this memo, Greenwald and Fang concluded, “Haberman’s stories were more sophisticated, nuanced, and even somewhat more critical than what the Clinton memo envisioned.”

More. A year earlier, on Jan. 7, 2014, email correspondence among Clintonistas expressed horror at a Jan. 5, 2014, story that Haberman had written in Politico: “Hillary Clinton’s shadow campaign.” Via extensive digging, Haberman established, shall we say, a certain contrast between what Clinton people were saying, and what they were doing. “Publicly, Clinton insists she’s many months away from a decision about her political future. But a shadow campaign on her behalf has nevertheless been steadily building for the better part of a year — a quiet, intensifying, improvisational effort to lay the groundwork for another White House bid.”

Clearly referencing that story, Cheryl Mills in that Jan. 7 email wrote, “she [Clinton] is as horrified as all of us that maggie H wrote this piece but shutting down these articles is hard given they have decided to cover her.” Now why would the media have decided to cover Hillary Clinton?