Media pundits cry double standard over leaked debate questions

WASHINGTON – Media pundits interviewed by TMN mostly agreed that had Donald Trump’s campaign been provided advanced debate questions, as recent WikiLeaks emails suggest acting Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Donna Brazile did for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the Republican nominee would have likely been subjected to harsher criticism.

“This is an astonishing breach of ethics on the part of both Brazile and her former employer CNN,” said Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center. “Had any Republican done so or any conservative outlet been so ethically bankrupt, the media would be quick to lay blame and keep pointing fingers until well after the election.”

Brazile resigned from CNN on Oct. 14 following the publication of a WikiLeaks email suggesting she had provided the Clinton campaign with advance notification of a potentially troublesome town hall question regarding the death penalty during the primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

On Monday WikiLeaks published another email suggesting Brazile also had provided the Clinton campaign with a heads-up about a question from an audience member prior to the Michigan primary debate.

CNN suspended their contract with Brazile in late July when she became acting DNC chair.

Gainor said both Brazile and the Clinton campaign are guilty of betraying public trust.

“Both cheated,” Gainor said. “I imagine many in politics would say all’s fair in love and war. But if supposedly neutral news outlets can’t be trusted and if the debate process can’t be trusted, that skews the view of the entire election.”

Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple said the Trump campaign would have been subjected to severe criticism had the roles been reversed but cast doubt as to whether the scrutiny would outweigh that which is currently being directed toward Brazile.

“I think the response would be enormous, though I don’t believe that the response to Brazile has been puny, by any means… Would the outcry be louder in the other direction? Maybe, but that is something we will likely never, ever know,” Wemple said.

Wemple said the collaborating journalist is the only party guilty of cheating.

“The journalist, exclusively,” Wemple said. “It’s not the job of presidential candidates to police the journalistic standards of CNN; if they end up with a gift, they should use it to their benefit. It would be another matter if we found that campaign operatives were sniffing around and trying to coax reporters and commentators to share proprietary information, but there’s no evidence of that in this case.”

Talkers editor and publisher Michael Harrison said the blame for cheating lies mostly with the political candidate but explained that the journalist is also at fault.

“Our culture is devolving to an ethical tipping point at which victory is held in higher regard than truth,” Harrison said. “Neither side of the political divide seems immune from this creeping corruption of integrity and values. The candidate must been held accountable for the actions of his or her campaign. The buck stops with the boss. If one calls one’s self a journalist, there is no excuse whatsoever for cheating.”

Newsmax TV host JD Hayworth, a former Arizona Republican member of Congress, said the Trump campaign most definitely would have been held to a different standard. He also said that both the journalist and the candidate should be considered cheaters.

“We all know the outrage and the coverage would be exponentially greater than what we’ve seen of the Brazile/Clinton connection,” Hayworth said. “Both the TV person and the candidate are cheaters… They should face ridicule, shame, and disqualification.”

This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News