In the Wikileaks revelations, it turns out John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times asked John Podesta of the Clinton camp for questions to ask Jeb Bush.
I hope John Harwood comes forward with Republicans he asked for questions to ask Hillary Clinton. But I presume none will be forthcoming.
In 2015, the worst of all the Republican debates was the CNBC debate. Many Republicans blasted Harwood’s choice as a moderator because of his perceived biases against the GOP. But it turned out that CNBC had exactly zero capable moderators, though Harwood’s questions decided tilted toward liberal presuppositions.
I think, given that debate and now this email, it is a fair question to ask if Harwood also sought Democrats’ advice on questions to ask Republicans during that debate.
During that debate, Harwood clashed with Donald Trump over Trump’s economic policy. We now have an email from Harwood to Podesta wherein Harwood gloats about provoking Trump and Harwood accepting, in 2015, the Obama position that the GOP “veering off the rails.”
The problem is that Harwood seems to have an unusually close relationship to Podesta. In May of 2015, he warned John Podesta that Ben Carson could cause Clinton trouble in a general election (that email also calls into question Harwood’s judgment).
He praised Clinton’s defense of the email scandal at a time many mainstream reporters were critical of it. In fact, on twitter Harwood was one of the reporters most dismissive of Clinton’s email situation.
Mollie Hemingway has chronicled Harwood’s liberal world view and his frequent insertion of Democrat friendly personal opinion into his reporting. As she notes, Twitter gives more examples of this.
I have no doubt that a lot of reporters have close relationships with Democrats. Most reporters in Washington tend to have a liberal world view and form their opinions and questions with liberal presuppositions. The problem with Harwood is simple. Wikileaks has compiled a laundry list of emails from John Podesta’s hacked email account and Harwood seems to be the most frequent reporter to email and, on top of that, the reporter who most frequently emails both praise and advice for the Clinton campaign.
Additionally, many of the criticisms about reporters that have shown up in the Wikileaks files really misunderstand how a lot of reporters and other journalists work. There is often an open conversation happening behind the scenes and often times campaigns do try to seed information, doubts, and questions with reporters.
It is the accumulated stack of email correspondence between Podesta and Harwood that is most troubling. Certainly the two men can be friends, but given the nature of the correspondence it seems Harwood should have recused himself from moderating a Republican debate and perhaps disclosed the friendship in his reporting.
While John Harwood may accept that the GOP has veered off the rails, and in 2016 it is obvious he was right, one of the many reasons people have gravitated to Donald Trump is a lack of trust in Washington institutions, including the press. The presumption of many Americans these days is that the Washington press corps and political racket work in concert to protect a status quo that benefits Washington at the expense of the people. These emails do nothing but affirm that opinion.