The dominating narrative in the WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta‘s emails is that reporters are in bed with Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign. Lots of sucking up, embarrassing compliments about how she and the campaign are doing and scribes working overtime to play consultants to the campaign.
But here’s a case of a reporter fighting back when the campaign attempted to handle her.
Just because Donald Trump, his campaign surrogates and his de facto website, Breitbart News, are declaring that the media is totally dishonest doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because John Harwood clearly has hard wood for the Clinton Camp doesn’t mean all reporters feel that way or behave that way.
The reporter in question here is NYT’s technology reporter Katie Benner.
In September, 2015, she attempted to get comment from Clinton’s deputy national press secretary Jesse Ferguson.
Here she is in a conversation with Hannah Linkenhoker, managing director at NMA Consulting Partners, whose predominately California-based clientele receives strategy on “politics, philanthropy, and business to advance their goals to create a strong, positive brand within the community,” according to her LinkedIn profile. Linkenhoker worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. She coordinated a phone bank effort in the San Francisco area.
BENNER: I got radio silence from Jesse for 4-5 days and now an email saying that the premise of the story is wrong? When Jesse doesn’t know the premise of the story because he refused to talk to me. I think the no comment is probably fine.
BENNER: He thinks I’m writing a story about the Munchery meeting and that I think it was all about the gig economy. He wrong, which he’d know if he found it useful to have any sort of communication. I’m using the Munchery meeting as an example of a discussion between tech and policy makers to understand the future of the labor markets. I let him know that the story was done, with a ‘no comment’ from Clinton’s camp. I also said that if he wants to email over any sort of statement, he can get it to me at 1 and I’ll forward it to the editor. (I’m in a meeting now).
Munchery is a meal delivery startup based in San Francisco. Podesta doesn’t see a need for an “intervention” until Linkenhoker fills him and Huma Abedin in on the reporter’s story.
LINKENHOKER: Huma, John – Just wanted to flag something for you guys. Katie Benner, a technology reporter for the NYT, reached out to me this week looking for a comment from the campaign about the emerging intersection of policy and the technology economy for a story she’s almost finished with (she had significant information about the Munchery event, including photos). I spoke to her briefly yesterday and she’s writing a very positive story (that does not center around the Munchery event, or only HRC) and has quotes from Senator Warner, among others. I’ve been working with Warner’s office (Shervin had dinner with him last week FYI) so have had an inside view of this issue, and personally think this could be a missed opportunity to get credit in a positive way and be seen as a leader on a cutting edge political issue. I put Katie in touch with Jesse Ferguson (see below) but she’s now prepared to publish “no comment from the Clinton campaign”. I’m sure you guys have discussed, and obviously up to you, just wanted to make sure you were aware. Best, Hannah
PODESTA: We probably need an intervention here.
Ferguson likely does not think Benner is trying to pickle the story. Surely he means “bringing.”
FERGUSON: Actually, I sent her a comment this afternoon after her email. For what it’s worth, she did not make it clear that the focus of her story was on the “Gig” economy until after brining [sic] the story to me. Originally it was a story about why candidates visit startups more generally. She then changed direction to focus on “Gig” economy companies. When we did the Munchery event, we decided not to comment on it in the local press since the event was closed press so I was hoping to avoid that here. However, based on her final note, we did give her a comment.
The Mirror requested a comment from Benner on the matter.