The Peter Schweizer book ‘Clinton Cash’ details the dodgy dealings and pay-for-play scandals that have formed the basis of the Clinton political dynasty. It has spawned a documentary and a graphic novel. But you don’t hear much about it in the media because as soon as the Clinton team found out about the book they leapt into action to discredit the author and provide a counter-narrative to the Clinton-friendly press.
On a chilly Saturday in March of 2015, the 21st to be precise, emails were sent about a new book that had just been announced. Titled ‘Clinton Cash’ not much was known about it. Democrat party consultant Jim Margolis sends an email to the Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook. Soon the entire team is alerted to this impending release, task number one, to get a copy of the book before its release.
Bill Clinton’s former Chief of Staff, and current Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta suggests political operative David Brock is the man for the task, and so Robbie Mook reaches out in a separate email to Marc Elias, Clinton Campaign General Council.
The following Monday the team begins to panic, 60 minutes is doing a story on it according to Jim Margolis, Robbie Mook has heard the same rumor, and the Clinton foundation is worried. Nick Merrill has already dispatched Craig Minassian, chief communications officer of the Clinton Foundation, to investigate. A threat is made to 60 minutes that the last time they went against the Clintons it did not go well for them, the basis of the story will be “ridiculous”… or else.
A month later on a rainy Sunday, April 19th, the book returned and this time it would not be so easy to dismiss. Jo Becker from the New York Times had received an advanced copy; she was doing her own story, luckily Amy Chosick, suspicious of attempts by the Times to do its job by investigating facts and telling the truth, has decided to do a hit piece on her own newspaper.
Press secretary Brian Fallon, with the guidance of Communications director Jennifer Palmieri, is more than happy to coach Amy Chosick on exactly what to say. The plan is to tie the whole thing to Republican rising star Rand Paul and label it a GOP conspiracy. This will become their go to line throughout the ordeal.
By the time the Chosick article is published later that evening the communications team is satisfied in a job well done. But Robbie Mook is still worried, the “enviros may latch on to this” and a $1million payment to Bill Clinton from a major shareholder in the Keystone XL pipeline means Hillary will have to come out against the Keystone XL.
Pro-Clinton The Hill columnist and all round kiss-ass Brent Budowsky is tasked with making sure the New York Times knows their place. A subtle but unambiguous email is sent to Eileen Murphy at the New York Times which implies without accusing that the New York Times is part of the GOP conspiracy. The New York Times is not so easily bluffed, their response is curt “there were no payments”. Like a rabid dog Brent Budowsky reiterates that the New York Times is not immune to attack.
Brent Budowsky forwards the exchange to John Podesta (without informing the New York Times) before writing his piece spreading the Clinton Campaign narrative that this is all part of a GOP “holy war”, not to be taken seriously. On the 22nd of April a final memo is sent to the New York Times from John Podesta, it denies everything and alleges that neither Peter Schweizer nor Jo Becker have any proof.
On the 23rd of April, with an advanced copy of the Jo Becker story, Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri reports her success. Thanks to the late publication of the story the morning shows will not have time to book guests, and she has placed a number of counter-stories in various friendly publications:
Time Magazine: Clinton Allies Knock Down Donor Allegations, New Questions Pop Up
Yahoo: Hillary campaign swats at Iran charge in ‘Clinton Cash’
The Daily Beast: The Clintons Still Aren’t Corrupt
Politico: Book alleges donor cash influenced Hillary’s stance on Colombia trade deal
ThinkProgress: The Media Is Hyping A New, Unreleased Anti-Hillary Book. Here’s What It Really Says.
Keep in mind that at this point neither the book, nor the Jo Becker New York Times article, has been published. These stories are written solely based on the John Podesta memo to the New York Times which was “leaked” to these agencies. Frank Guistra, who was named in both the book and the article, also has a statement prepared for him.
A talking point memo is sent to “friends and allies” in the media advising them to reference the stories planted by Jennifer Palmieri, and to reiterate the narrative that this is all a GOP conspiracy funded by the Koch Brothers.
In perpetual kiss-ass mode Brent Budowsky reaches out to the Jeb Bush campaign to inform them of Peter Schweizer’s second book, ‘Bush Bucks’, which was released in October 2015, to enlist aid in forming the conspiracy narrative. John Podesta (again, with no knowledge from the other party) is forwarded the email.
Amy Chosick, eager to receive her just deserts, contacts John Podesta for coffee but is rebuffed.
By Friday 24th, the entire team is satisfied they’ve done their job, on Sunday 26th the final nail is put in place. Former White House communications director under Bill Clinton and current Democrat mouthpiece on ABC news, George Stephanopoulis, interviews Peter Schweizer on ABC’s This Week, refuting the claims of the still unreleased book. According to Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson, this is all based on the work of the Clinton campaign. The following day the media has taken the bait; Josh Schwerin and Jesse Ferguson collect the media responses to disseminate to supporters.
Another planted article in Politico on the 29th, Josh Schwerin congratulates the team on a job well done.
But by the 1st of May it’s clear that not enough has been done. Hillary herself is demanding a video telling her side of the story, her campaign staff advises against it but Huma Abedin advises that she is adamant. Pollster and strategist Joel Benenson advises that no matter how good the video the press will not consider the questions answered until they have asked them.
She did not hold another press conference until August 5th (and even then it was a pathetic one to a select group with moderated questions). The events for the rest of the week were all fundraisers with the exception of a single Round Table in Nevada with a preselected audience where no questions were asked about ‘Clinton Cash’.
On Monday the 4th of May, after a hitpiece by Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro, Podesta is advised not to engage as it may cause a spike in interest in a dying story. On Tuesday the 5th of May, the day the book is finally released, Brent Budowsky advises John Podesta that he has sent one final veiled threat to the New York Times and the matter is dropped.
The Clinton staff had completely dismantled the credibility of the book before anyone had even read it. They stood over the New York Times, they planted stories with friendly outlets, they concocted accusations with no evidence, they made sure the only questions asked were the ones they had an answer for and they avoided any press still capable of doing their jobs for months after the fact.
The deal Hillary makes with the press is simple – step out of line and be destroyed, toe the line and we’ll do your job for you. From the point of view of the American voter Hillary Clinton is a teflon covered criminal, and so from the point of view of the American press she’s someone to stay on the right side of. For a journalist working today, if you don’t want to be frozen out and left to do opinion pieces based on the work of others, then report what they tell you to report.
If you have any expectation that Hillary will win in November then it’s a credible threat. To go against Hillary Clinton, even when it’s appropriate to do so, means risking career and reputation. Hillary Clinton holds a multi-billion dollar industry hostage, even as her campaign commercials provide one of their most lucrative sources of revenue.