Weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Donna Brazile became something more than her usual pundit self. She was a bona fide campaign story. Emails published by WikiLeaks showed that she had shared questions with the Clinton campaign before a CNN town hall event as well as before a debate with Bernie Sanders. Around that time, CNN announced that it had parted ways with Brazile, who had served in leadership positions at the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Meantime, Fox News announced its outrage over Brazile’s back channel to the Clinton campaign. Then-host Megyn Kelly poked holes in Brazile’s defense in October 2016. It was brutal. “As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted because your information is totally false," said Brazile.
In a November 2016 program, host Sean Hannity expressed the in-house line: “Now, Wikileaks — they exposed rampant collusion between the media, and of course, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign," he said. "We now know that interim DNC chair Donna Brazile from the Clinton campaign gave them multiple debate questions. That’s called cheating!”
There’s a flip side of this coin, too. Brazile has tweeted out a thought or two about Fox News, including this one about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a frequent target of Fox News opinionators:
She has also promoted the work of Media Matters for America, a watchdog nonprofit that has had Fox News at the center of its mission statement for years:
And here’s something: Brazile’s history with the DNC gave her a special link to Fox News’s 2017 groundless story promoting the idea that Seth Rich, a young DNC staffer who was slain in D.C., was at the bottom of the WikiLeaks scandal:
All of this mutual enmity makes for a perfect Washington story, in which both parties set aside their principled objections in favor of their unprincipled interests. Brazile needs a gig and a platform; Fox News needs a strong liberal voice so that it can continue attempting to cast itself as a purveyor of fair-and-balanced coverage. So they inked a contributor contract, as Variety reported on Monday.
Fox News host Dana Perino called Brazile’s signing a “bold move” as she introduced the new contributor on Monday afternoon’s show. Said Brazile: “I’ve been on and off Fox for the last 15 years, but this is an opportunity to reach across the aisle, to reach even within my own political party and to independents and others who might want to hear what’s happening within the Democratic Party, what’s happening in the country and, of course, hear my perspective. During the Lenten season, I try to give up something that I enjoy and I try to do something different, and I decided I’m not going to be a hypocrite. I want to talk to people. I want to listen. I want to reach out, I want to do so in civility and most of all, I want to be able as a Democrat and a progressive and a liberal to talk to the Fox family, because they’re Americans and they care about many of the same issues and concerns that I have."
Bold added to highlight the fact that this civility warrior is joining a network where the prevailing wisdom holds the immigration makes the country “dirtier.”
Similarly, the idea of “reaching across the aisle” on a cable-news set is risible. Brazile is, again, a television pundit who’ll be laying out her expert commentary in panel discussions for the foreseeable future. What happens on Fox News panels doesn’t qualify as genuine political engagement. It’s all a show ― a show that thrives on bickering and sound-bites that play well on tweeted videos. It’s the locus of division and misconception, not healing.