Kentucky Sen. [crscore]Rand Paul[/crscore]’s presidential campaign is urging Republicans to keep a close eye on CNN after one of its reporters was caught “colluding” with a Hillary Clinton State Department aide via email during her Jan. 23, 2013 testimony at a Senate hearing on the terrorist attacks in Benghazi.
“The liberal media has taken their Clinton sycophany to a new low,” Doug Stafford, Paul’s chief campaign strategist, said in a statement.
Stafford was responding to emails published on Tuesday which showed that CNN foreign affairs correspondent Elisa Labott — who was recently suspended by the network for two weeks in an unrelated matter — sent out at least two pro-Clinton tweets at the request of Clinton aide Philippe Reines. (RELATED: Emails: CNN Reporter Coordinated With Hillary Aide To Smear Rand Paul During 2013 Benghazi Hearing)
One of those tweets took direct aim at Paul for posing a series of tough questions for Clinton about the Benghazi attack during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
In one exchange that day, Paul said that if he had been president, he would have fired Clinton. It was also during that hearing that Clinton uttered the now-infamous phrase, saying of whether the attack was sparked by a protest or a planned terrorist attack: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
As Clinton’s testimony was still underway, the emails, which were published by Gawker, show that Reines and Labott appeared to have been discussing the hearing and coordinating ways for the reporter to portray Clinton in a positive light.
One way of doing that was by criticizing Paul. Labott emailed Reines asking, “are you sure rand paul wasn’t at any hearings?”
Minutes latter, Labott sent Reines text of a tweet she posted criticizing Paul for missing committee briefings.
Sen Paul most critical on committee of Clinton, but a little late to the #Benghazi game.Not sure he was at many of the 30 previous briefings
— Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) January 23, 2013
Later in the day, Labott emailed Reines to compliment Clinton’s performance. “She was great,” the reporter wrote.
Reines responded by requesting that Labott post another tweet, this one of a Clinton quote from the hearing. Labott complied.
“CNN needs to address this bias and lack of journalistic integrity,” Stafford stated Wednesday. He also pointed to the next GOP debate, which will be hosted by CNN in Las Vegas on Dec. 15.
“This email revelation should give Republicans pause as to their coverage and possibility of fair treatment towards Sen. Paul during the next debate,” Stafford said. “All eyes will be on CNN’s response to their employee colluding with Hillary Clinton in order to attack a prominent U.S. senator on their dime.”
It is unclear if CNN will discipline Labott for coordinating with Reines. She is already serving a two-week suspension for posting a tweet last week criticizing Congress for passing a bill that could halt the Syrian and Iraqi refugee programs.