New York Times Gave Hillary Veto Power
WikiLeaks emails show reporter agreed to let Clinton campaign cut quotes before story ran
Hillary Clinton spent time in summer 2015 with The New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich and made a crack about 2008 Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
But the remark didn’t make it into the long profile. Leibovich agreed to give the Clinton campaign veto power over the statements she made.
“These exchanges were pretty interesting … would love the option to use.”
The revelation comes in Part III of a massive email release from WikiLeaks.
Leibovich evidently gave the campaign the ability to ax quotes as part of a deal for access.
Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of communications for the Times, defended the arrangement. “We were transparent with our readers and disclosed the arrangement in the story,” she wrote in an email.
In the 42nd paragraph of the 54-paragraph story, Leibochich explained the deal: “In early July, after much back and forth with the campaign and reluctance on my part, I decided to take the campaign up on its offer of an off-the-record conversation with Clinton. I figured I would use the opportunity at Bretton Woods to ask Clinton directly for an interview or at least to let me do part of our conversation on the record. She chose the latter.”
But the disclosure did not exactly specify Clinton and her team would be allowed to determine, retroactively, which parts of the conversation were on or off the record.
Leibovich emailed campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri on July 7, 2015, to try to lobby for a batch of quotes.
“These exchanges were pretty interesting … would love the option to use,” he wrote.
The Palin shot came during a discussion between Clinton and Leibovich in which the Democratic candidate for president discussed having eaten moose stew in Alaska. “So that’s why I always got a big kick out of Sarah Palin with all of her, ‘We’re cooking up some moose stew here,'” she said.
But Palmieri told Lebovich that Clinton did not want the Palin quote to appear, and it did not. Instead, the passage in a story titled “Re-Re-Re-Reintroducing Hillary Clinton,” read: “She had seen a few in her day, she told me. ‘I’ve eaten moose, too,’ she said. ‘I’ve had moose stew.'”
The Clinton camp also objected to using a quote in which the candidate said that “gay rights has moved much faster than women’s rights or civil rights, which is an interesting phenomenon somebody in the future will unpack.”
The email exchange also indicates that Palmieri misunderstood the terms of the agreement. She wrote that she thought the campaign would be able to pick the quotes that would be used. Leibovich responded, “I wanted the option to use all — and you could veto what you didn’t want. That’s why I selected the 5 or 6 I sent to you…The moose is good, but I’d really love to use the other things I sent, too. They were all on point. Sorry for mis-communique here, but do you think you can check?”
Palmieri seemed satisfied.
“Pleasure doing business!” she wrote.
Note: This story has been updated to include comment from The New York Times.