OMG: Yashar Ali Reports That He Got a Call From Dafna Linzer, Managing Editor and Overseer of NBC's and MSNBC's Political Coverage.
She Did Not Call to Lobby on Behalf of NBC and MSNBC.
She Called to Lobby on Behalf of... The DNC
Rest of his tweets quoted in normal text:
2. Dafna, who oversees the political coverage for NBC and MSNBC, was calling to bully me into delaying the publication of an innocuous scoop and at no point did she advocate for her network, it was only about the DNC.
Here's how this all started...
3. Yesterday morning I received a tip from a trusted source. The source told me the DNC would be announcing the dates of the first 2020 primary debates later that day. The source gave me the dates they would be announcing: June 26 and 27.
4. At first I thought it was just a fun tidbit that I could tweet out. But after I called several presidential campaign staffers I learn that all the Dem campaigns were desperate to learn what the dates were going to be. I decided to post the scoop as an item in my newsletter.
5. This wasn't a huge scoop but it was a decent one so I quickly called the DNC to fact-check the tip as I was running out of time: the dates would be announced on MSNBC in the 4:00 PM hour. It's important to note that almost of all of my communication with the DNC was off record
6. So I won't share most of what was said but can tell you it's pretty run-of-the mill stuff. I asked the DNC if my tip was accurate and they asked if they could call me back in 10 minutes. A few minutes later they called back and asked if I could delay posting my scoop
7. For another hour so they could go through their important notification calls to the state parties. I told them I couldn't wait as the news would leak and leave me without a story. That's all I can say about the call. Two minutes later I received a call from Dafna.
8. I've never spoken to Dafna by phone. A couple years ago she reached out to me to see if I wanted to have coffee and talk about working at NBC News but I declined as I was actively investigating NBC matters and thought it would be strange if I discussed a job.
9. So when I saw Dafna calling I assumed she would ask me to consider delaying my post so that MSNBC could announce it first. Given that this was an innocuous scoop and not some investigative story I wouldn't have lost sleep if I had delayed. But that's not why she was calling.
10. After exchanging pleasantries, Dafna told me that she received a call from the DNC and was told I had a story. Now it's not strange that the DNC called her, they were coordinating an announcement. What was strange was that she was calling me and taking a menacing tone
11. She asked if I could hold the story and I said I couldn't. She was agitated, "why not?" I said I'm not going to lose a scoop. Then she got angrier and said "Why not? It's not a big deal, let them make a few phone calls."
12. I realized that @DafnaLinzer, the head of all political coverage for NBC News and MSNBC wasn't calling to advocate for her network, she was calling to advocate the DNC's position. She wanted me to wait so they could call state party leaders.
13. I thought to myself "this is how people think it works." [That is, this is how suspicious types like us think that the political-media complex works-- ace] It's not. But Dafna was doing it. She kept pressing me. Now I acknowledged, for stuff that isn't about serious investigative reporting, there is no problem holding something. But I knew once others got the call
14. I would lose a scoop. Dafna reminded me she was a nat sec reporter at WAPO for ten years and they would hold stuff all the time (note: so people wouldn't get killed). "Why can't you just wait, let them make their calls, then you'll be the first to put it into print," she said
15. I couldn't believe what she was saying. Again, it was fine for me to print the story an hour later, beat her own network by three hours, she just wanted me to let the DNC inform state party leaders. Why the hell did she care?
16. I kept telling Dafna no, that I wasn't waiting. And she kept getting more frustrated. She was exasperated...she didn't understand why I couldn't wait for the DNC to make their state notification calls.
17. I was so surprised me that she was talking this way with a total stranger. The head of the political division was trying to bully me at the behest of the DNC over a dumb scoop (even though they may not have asked her to)
18. 2/3 of the way into the conversation Dafna started a sentence with "this is off the record." She hadn't said it at the beginning of our conversation and most important at no point did I agree when she said "off record" to keep it off record.
19. I'm not one of those gotcha reporters, I think it's bad for sourcing relationships to make people like they constantly feel like they have to say "off record." But Dafna isn't a source and she was calling to intimidate me, so she doesn't get the benefit.
20. She said "off record" one more time later in the call and again I just let her keep talking, I did not agree to anything. I then told her I had to go talk to my editor and she got even more frustrated and said "No. I want to talk to you about this."
21. I said "no, I want to go talk to my editor." Then she sent me over the edge and said "What's your editors name, I want to talk to them." She was trying to intimidate me..on behalf of the DNC. I ended the call.
22. After the call with Dafna I published the stupid scoop. Then I did a gut check and over the next two hours I called 10 experienced prominent reporters and told them the story. They were all stunned by what Dafna did and encouraged me to share it publicly.
23. I'm not naive to the fact that this incident is going to be twisted by some with an agenda to discredit the media and say they collude with political parties. But I think its more important to expose bad behavior then keep it under wraps. What Dafna did was unethical
24. There are plenty of times reporters will introduce people in politics to other reporters or TV people. I have done it many times, that is advocating for more coverage, not less. Dafna was advocating for me to not do something on behalf of a political party.
25. What I can't figure out is (and no one else I spoke to could understand), why open yourself up to this for a stupid story? How was this worth it?
I thank Yashar for his reporting here, and the courage in defying the Herd Mind in doing so.
But I can't help but think -- maybe those of us who think the Political-Media Complex does
often work this way are more right about that than you'd care to admit to yourself, Yashar.
This woman seems to have had no shame or concern about what she was doing -- as you yourself state. That indicates to me that she didn't think what she was doing was unusual, over-the-line, or even outside of customary routine.
That's what she thinks -- and I'd say she is the expert about her own actions and behavior.
So at least this one person has been doing this thing so much she isn't even fazed by questions about doing it, and she also hasn't before been criticized publicly for doing it.
That tells me that you're a bit naive on this point, Yashar. Maybe you're just not seeing this even though it's going on all around you. Maybe the word is out that you're one of the ones who won't Play Ball so they don't usually try this with you.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of reporters known to Play Ball with the DNC that this tactic is used with, and it doesn't mean that those reporters don't routinely Play Ball.
I never got offered any money for a planted story. (Well-- I got offered twice. Two fairly minor sums. I turned both down.) Yet I know other people were offered such money.
If you asked me, I'd've told you that payola stories didn't happen in blogging, or almost never happened.
Yet... they did happen. I just wasn't on the gravy train. My experience was just my own experience. But other people had a, well, different experience.
Maybe I just wasn't on the list of those who Played Ball.
Those known to Play Ball would have a different view on the matter.
I wonder what Glenn "I've Become a Hack"
Thrush's view on Playing Ball is.
I wonder what the view is of the reporters -- so far unnamed and unknown -- who Fusion GPS has admitted were paid for "research" purposes.
I wonder what view is shared by Fusion GPS' favorite reporters, "Fusion Ken" Dilanian and Evan "Best Friends with Glenn Simpson, Check Out the Pictures of Our Vacations Together" Perez.
I wonder about the view had by Jake Tapper, former Handgun Control, Inc. spokesman, and married to a Regional Field Manager of Planned Parenthood.
I wonder about the view taken by former Democrat page Chuck Todd, or the view taken by former Clinton War-Room manager George Stephanopolous.
You know, the guy who asked the front-running Republican candidate Mitt Romney about a fringe position of the anti-contraceptive movement that Romney had never once discussed or endorsed. I wonder who pitched him that strange question.
Maybe all of these people are Paragons of Journalistic Virtue who would never, ever, ever
do favors for Democrat friends.
Or have Democrat friends do, in turn, a favor for them, like contrive a "news hook" for CNN so they could report about the existence of an unverified dossier and suggest it was the Rosetta Stone of collusion.
I wonder. I wonder about all these things.
Seems Like Someone Recently Discovered This Really Is How It Works Recently:
But you know who's here to defend the honor of his liberal media palz? Seth "The Cow That Walks on Two Legs" Mandel:
So conservative! (And oh -- speaking of people who did
take money to plant stories.)
I must consume him, I must eat of his cuckmeat, I must devour his sad! and disgusting! flesh, and add his weakness to my own.