Then-ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper laid into Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta and a writer for the liberal blog ThinkProgress for “printing something so untrue,” according to emails released by WikiLeaks.
“This is inaccurate and you should be ashamed to have written it after I told you what happened,” Tapper wrote in response to a 2009 story by ThinkProgress writer Faiz Shakir.
Shakir’s article accused Tapper of conspiring with “right-wing hate media” to report the White House intimidated a group of hedge funds into going along with its plan to bailout the auto industry. Shakir argued that since conservative talk show host Mark Levin and Tapper worked for ABC News, there must be some sort of conspiracy.
“Bottom line: the right wing has morphed a story of corporate greed into a false political attack against Obama,” Shakir wrote after accusing Tapper of pushing at the behest of Levin.
Tapper ripped into Shakir for pushing “a narrative that I was used by the right wing media, so you wrote what you wrote regardless of the facts,” according to a May 2009 email. “That’s shoddy journalism, and it’s simply not reflective of the truth.”
It turns out Shakir talked to Tapper about his report that the White House was going after hedge funders before publishing. Tapper told Shakir he heard the story on the radio, but didn’t start looking into it until after he’d been covering a story related to Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
“I’m going to assert that you gave their cause some legs. I wanted to give you a heads-up and an opportunity to comment,” Shakir responded to Tapper.
Tapper asked for Shakir’s number so he could call. Tapper then claimed the White House’s denying they ever intimidated anyone “first appeared in my blog, which highlighted their disputing of the story.”
Tapper was livid.
“Nothing in your story about my reporting on this matter is accurate,” Tapper wrote. “No one pressured me, no one peddled anything to me, and no one reached out to me to cover this.”
“Indeed, the first I heard of Mark Levin pushing this story was on your post,” he said. “The fact that you don’t mention Lauria’s giving money to Democrats is quite telling. This is inaccurate and you should be ashamed to have written it after I told you what happened.”
“You told me nothing for attribution. Like I said, I don’t think the story is damaging for you, Jake. You get information from all sides,” Faiz responded.
“Off the record, Faiz, you should be ashamed for printing something so untrue. And John – is this was thinkprogress is? Print anything, damn the facts?” Tapper wrote, roping in Podesta.
ThinkProgress is a project of the Center for American Progress (CAP) — a liberal think tank founded by Podesta in 2003. Podesta headed CAP until 2014 when he left to work at the White House.
Podesta doesn’t respond to Tapper on the email chain, but Shakir shot back that his “post is actually a pretty straight presentation of facts. If you dispute my conclusion, I’m happy to publish that.”
ABC News spokeswoman Emily Lenzner sent Shakir a statement, and to his credit, the liberal blogger updated his story with ABC’s statement.
Tapper is now a CNN anchor.
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