That “clarity” paints a charitable view of the situation. As disclosed in WikiLeaks emails, Brazile in March — when she was a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee — told the Clinton campaign about a death penalty question before a town-hall event in Ohio, and about a water-related question before a debate in Flint, Mich. In the case of the death penalty question, Brazile appears to have secured the question from partner organization TVOne; and in the case of the water inquiry, she may have picked it up from a community member, though the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross is casting doubt on that possibility.
Earlier this week, after the second question-leaking incident surfaced, CNN announced that Brazile had resigned from the network on Oct. 14, after the first question-leaking incident surfaced. “Huh?” wondered many media watchers: Why hadn’t CNN told us about this news? There have been no answers to that question, though CNN stated that it was “completely uncomfortable” with Brazile’s actions while she served as a contributor (she was suspended from her contributorship in the summer as she ascended to interim chair of the DNC following the departure of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the casualty of another email scandal). In a segment on CNN Tuesday, host Brooke Baldwin said that Brazile was subject to “some sort of termination.”
The same term applies to CNN’s level of transparency on this matter. Whenever political types stonewall the network’s top anchors or otherwise sidestep their questions, we hear a lot about the virtues of accountability. In that same spirit, the Erik Wemple Blog and many, many others have asked CNN for more information, an interview, something to go on. What we get is second-hand accounts of what Zucker says to his own people, a statement and, most recently, confirmation that an internal investigation was conducted. If a Jake Tapper were covering CNN, would he accept such an approach? If a Dana Bash were covering CNN, would she accept such an approach?
As this blog has written, this turn of events isn’t just a temporary bit of unwelcome news for CNN; it is a scandal, one facilitated by the network’s steadfast belief that predictable and conflicted political hacks deliver the best political analysis in the business, especially if they’re piled on a semicircular desk with six or seven other talking heads. Let us suppose for a second that Brazile didn’t, in fact, secure the questions from within the network’s vaunted “cone of silence” around debate preparation. Even so: As a CNN contributor and DNC official, she was close enough to the process to corrupt it. It’s a tawdry adjacency, and it’s central to the CNN business model.