Andrea Mitchell: We the Press Were 'Complicit' in Covering Podesta Emails

April 25, 2018

MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell said the press, including herself, were "complicit" in shifting attention away from the "Access Hollywood" tape in 2016 by almost immediately covering former Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta's hacked emails.

Mitchell asked New York Times reporter Amy Chozick, who covered the Clinton campaign during the 2016 campaign, what she thought of the press covering the Podesta emails right after the "Access Hollywood" tape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush came out.

"What are your feelings–I see them in the book–about how unwittingly complicit we were after, on that horrible day, the 'Access Hollywood' tape comes out and then right away the Podesta emails are dumped by Wikileaks, and everybody chased after it?" Mitchell asked.

"At the time, I did what every news organization did. We covered them. We contextualized them. We tried to make sure they were accurate," Chozick said. "But then about a month after the election, I was on the subway on the way to work, and read a Pulitzer winning story by my colleagues about how the Russians pulled off the perfect hack to interfere in our democracy, and it said 'turning the media organization, including the Times, into de facto agents of Russian intelligence.'"

"It definitely made me think that newsrooms should all be grappling with this and how we handle hacks by foreign adversaries intentionally designed to disturb our democracy moving forward, because we know these will happen again and we're leading into the midterms in 2020. I think some hard questions need to be asked of how we handle those," Chozick added.

Chozick, the author of the new book Chasing Hillary, writes in the memoir that she cried after finishing her article on how Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

Throughout the segment, Mitchell and Chozick reminisced on how little access Clinton provided reporters.

"Just the fact that we had so little access," Mitchell said. "My takeaway was that she was so buttoned down because of the email controversy and because of us and our editors really wanting to go after that and, of course, Trump egging everybody on, that she felt her policy questions were never getting covered and all we ever wanted to ask her about were the emails."

"Even when policy stories were covered–and we covered them–they weren't necessarily breaking though. They weren't what was getting eyeballs and traffic and driving the news," Chozick said. "It was such a contentious relationship and you know, she had, as you said, this historically all-female press corps and you had a female candidate that didn't want a lot to do with us."

In the past, Michell noted she might have been "too aggressive" when covering Clinton and her campaign. Despite Mitchell's "aggressive" coverage, Clinton still professed her admiration for the NBC and MSNBC host during a press conference.

"I love you, Andrea. You are indefatigable," Clinton said, laughing. "You're my kind of woman, I'll tell you what."