Emails Show Media Reluctance To Pursue Lynch-Clinton Tarmac Meeting Story

“… make the attorney general appear in a more favorable light.”

For some media outlets, the June 2016 tarmac meeting between former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General was a major piece of news, coming near the peak of speculation over the outcome of the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

Then, there were the reporters from the New York Times and The Washington Post, whose reluctance to pursue the story come through in emails disclosed by the American Center for Law and Justice as part of its effort to find the truth behind the meeting.

Former President Bill Clinton and Lynch met privately on her plane at the Phoenix airport. Both insisted the conversation was purely social. Former FBI Director James Comey has said the meeting concerned him and was one catalyst for his decision to circumvent standard procedures and go public with his assessment of what the FBI found in its investigation.

The ACLJ said the documents it received “paint a clear picture of a DOJ in crisis mode as the news broke of Attorney General Lynch’s meeting with former President Clinton. In fact, the records appear to indicate that the attorney general’s spin team immediately began preparing talking points for the attorney general regarding the meeting before ever speaking with the AG about the matter.”

It also said “there is clear evidence that the mainstream media was colluding with the DOJ to bury the story.”

At the same time, other media organizations were sharing the concern Comey expressed.

Matt Zapotosky of The Washington Post was asking the Department of Justice for a “hopefully, quick conversation on the AG-Clinton meeting,” according to a document obtained by ACLJ through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit

“My editors are still pretty interested in it and I am hoping I can put it to rest by answering just a few more questions of how the meeting came about,” the email read.

“The same Washington Post reporter, interacting with the DOJ spin team, implemented specific DOJ requests to change his story to make the attorney general appear in a more favorable light,” ACLJ said on its website.

Mark Landler, the White House correspondent of the New York Times, told the Justice Department he had been “pressed into service” by the paper, which was several days behind other media outlets in reporting about the meeting.

The Times and Post were not alone.

A Justice Department email from Melanie Newman, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs, said, “I just talked to the ABC producers, who said they aren’t interested, even if Fox runs with it.”

ACLJ noted there were multiple documents form the Department of Justice and FBI about the meeting — contradicting claims from Comey that none existed — but that much of the content was redacted.


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