Following the final presidential debate Wednesday, Fox News' Megan Kelly confronted DNC Chair Donna Brazile regarding the WikiLeaks revelation that Brazile was allegedly given a Clinton/Sanders debate question ahead of time.
Among the Podesta emails released by WikiLeaks, one sent by DNC Chair Donna Brazile flatly states that she gets debate questions in advance. In the email, titled "From time to time I get the questions in advance," sent March 12, 2016 to Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri, Brazile inquires about a Clinton/Sanders debate question that "worries her." Debate co-anchor Roland Martin then sent the exact question to CNN producers the very next day.
Brazile's and Martin's question are identical:
"19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?"
Martin initially denied that he'd shared the question with anyone, but when Politico confronted him with an email stating otherwise, he suddenly recalled sending questions to CNN, but said he didn't recall contacting Brazile. In the debate, which was held the very next day, March 13th, Clinton was asked about the death penalty.
In her interview with Kelly Wednesday, Brazile spun so fast she got blurry:
KELLY: "You were accused of receiving a debate question before a CNN town hall where they partnered with TV One, and that you had this question on March 12th, that verbatim was provided by Roland Martin to CNN the next day. How did you get that question, Donna?"
BRAZILE: "Well, Kelly, since I play straight up, I'll play straight up with you. I did not receive any questions from CNN. Let's just be very clear."
KELLY: "Where'd you get It? Where did you get It?"
BRAZILE: "First of all, what information are you providing to me that will allow me to see what you're talking about? Everybody is leaking private information..."
KELLY: "WikiLeaks released a March 12th Podesta email showing you messaging the Clinton campaign with the exact wording of a question asked at the March 13th CNN/TV One town hall debate. Where did you get It?"
BRAZILE: "As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not stand here and be persecuted because you're information is totally false. What you are telling the American people--"
KELLY: "I'm getting it from Podesta's email."
BRAZILE: "Podesta's emails were stolen! You're so interested in talking about stolen material, you're like a thief that wanna bring into the night the things that you found that was in the gutter..."
KELLY: "So you deny it? Donna, CNN's Jake Tapper came out and said this was 'unethical,' 'somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign.' He said 'I love Donna Brazile, but this is very, very upsetting. My understanding is that the email to Donna Brazile came from either Roland Martin, or someone around Roland Martin,' he said. 'This is very upsetting and very troubling.' That's your own colleague at CNN, it's not Megyn Kelly. Who gave you that question?"
BRAZILE: "Megyn, once again, I've said it, and I've said it on the record, and I'll say it on the record, and I'll keep saying it on the record. I am not going to try to validate falsified information. I have my documents; I have my files.
Thank God I have not had my personal emails ripped off from me, and stolen, and given to some criminals to come back altered...as I've said repeatedly, CNN--in the 14 years I was associated with CNN, I've never received anything...I never get documents from CNN...as far as I know, CNN has never provided me with questions, absolutely ever."
Kelly then asked what Brazile meant in her email when she stated that she gets questions "in advance," at which point, Brazile finally challenged the authenticity of the emails themselves, alleging they've been "doctored," and that the leak hasn't been "verified."
This was a master class in spin.
Brazile first questioned the source, as if she had no idea, then she made herself the victim by screaming "persecution." Brazile then pivoted to the fact that the emails were "stolen"--not false, but stolen. She continued to say she never received information "from CNN," deftly avoiding Roland Martin's name, or TV One. Finally, after a long back and forth, Brazile claimed the emails were indeed doctored. Why didn't she say that in the first place? It would have shortened the conversation by about three minutes.
Instead of shutting the conversation down immediately, Brazile bumbled about, lobbing accusation after accusation, filling the airwaves with clutter, before finally concluding that the emails were fake. It's perfect spin-doctoring, muddying the water with nonsense, making it difficult to pin down specific statements.