Friday, September 25, 2015

Hillary Clinton quote about Huma Abedin not necessarily a contradiction

A number of media outlets are implying that the leading 2016 Democratic presidential candidate lied or contradicted herself in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, but journalists are ignoring that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was responding to a double question.

Politico's Rachel Bade reported Thursday, "According to documents obtained by conservative group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Clinton was the immediate supervisor who approved the title change that came with the new post on March 23, 2012, permitting her then-deputy chief of staff to work several jobs at once."

"Do you think he had a point in raising the question of whether it was appropriate for her [Huma Abedin] to be taking a State Department salary and also be paid by an outside company, closely associated with your husband, by you?" Mitchell asked Clinton on September 4th, referring to criticism by the leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"Well, you know, I was not directly involved in that, but everything that she did was approved under the rules as they existed by the State Department," Clinton responded, but it's unclear if she was referring to the job change, Teneo's hiring of Abedin, or both.

No one from the Clinton campaign appears to have argued specifically otherwise, yet, but they did pursue a different argument.

NY Times journalist Nicholas Confessore reported late Thursday night at 10:03 PM, "A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton declined to comment on the newly released document."

But, as Politico's Rachel Bade noted a few minutes earlier in a 9:58 PM update, "The Clinton Campaign argued Thursday that the document wasn't the actual approval of the SGE status but only approved the title change that came with Abedin's transition. The document states that the position was 'new' and an SGE job: 'The incumbent serves as a Senior Adviser, Expert-Special Government Employee.'"

Hours later, the New York Times, still hasn't updated the article to include the Clinton campaign's response.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Controversial firm linked to Clintons handles press for $17.7 billion Cablevision deal

4/2/16 Update: Last October, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner - who is married to former Teneo consultant Huma Abedin - told me that he never worked for that consulting firm because he likes to be his own boss.

Very little is known about Weiner's post-Congress lobbying firm, Woolf Weiner Associates, and he acts angrily when questioned about it. In May of 2013, I did a story called "Anthony Weiner company led by former board director for firm investors blasted as 'CROOKS'", which has a lot of information about his consulting, that no other journalist ever seems to probe.

In regards to this story, this is what Michael Barbaro reported for The New York Times on April 30, 2013:
Mr. Weiner has advised Covington & Burling as it seeks to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to relax its long-standing objections to major foreign investment in the broadcast industry. He has tutored the firm on the key players and their political sensitivities, using knowledge gleaned from his tenure on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Mr. Weiner said he had reached out to federal officials at the Energy and Agriculture Departments, as well as members of Congress, on behalf of his clients. But he insisted that the work did not meet the legal definition of lobbying, which he said his contracts made clear he would not do.

The executives who have worked with him said the raunchy online banter with women that cost Mr. Weiner his post in Congress posed no problem for their employers.

“Nobody said don’t do this,” Mace J. Rosenstein, a partner in Covington’s telecommunications practice, said of hiring Mr. Weiner. 'He’s got this thing he has to deal with and it appears he is dealing with it in his own way.'
A controversial consulting firm connected to the Clintons scored a bigtime client under the radar recently. And even though Teneo was founded by two Hillary Clinton fundraisers - including CEO Declan Kelly who she appointed as Economic Envoy to No. Ireland while she was Secretary of State - the D.C. press ignores the news. The specific person handling the press for the multi-billion dollar international cable deal once worked for a firm whose owner consulted former President Bill Clinton.

The New York Times appears to have published a "scoop" they received from a public relations firm tied to the top presidential candidate - but omitted mentioning either in their article - just to get an exclusive a few hours early. And since it's related to the creation of what will be the "#4 cable operator in the US market", which affects millions of US voters, this omission of news might be disturbing to watchdogs. Teneo sometimes gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a month by clients, and both entities inherently have common ground to make each other look good to the public.

"Teneo is a senior-led advisory firm with deep collective experience working at the highest echelons of the public and private sectors," the Teneo Holdings website states. "Our team has a rich knowledge base and global network of relationships that we bring to bear on behalf of our clients every day."

If that "global network of relationships" includes New York Times reporters, then - in a sense - this rapidly growing international firm, which has been criticized for using government connections across the world to woo clients and accused of milking those links, controls the media on multiple levels. Teneo is especially secretive about their long list of clients - including "the CEOs of many Fortune 100 companies across a diverse range of industry sectors" and "senior leaders of many of the world’s largest and most complex companies and organizations" - and notorious for not commenting on controversies involving itself.

"Cablevision has agreed to sell itself to Altice, an acquisitive European telecommunications giant, for about $17.7 billion, including debt, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday," Michael J. de la Merced, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Emily Steel reported for the new York Times on September 16. "It is the latest deal to reshape the broadband and cable television landscape. An announcement could be made on Thursday, these people said."

The story adds, "Talks between Altice and Cablevision began in June, weeks after the Suddenlink deal was struck and after bankers had deluged the European company with pitches for additional deals to pursue, according to the people who were briefed."

At 8:46 PM last Wednesday, @NYTimes tweeted a link to the exclusive article. A little over five hours later - at 2:08 AM - @M_delamerced bragged in a tweet, "As @andrewrsorkin and I reported (, Altice is buying Cablevision for $34.90 a share. Release:" The press release in Merced's tweet mentions that David Vermillion from Teneo is handling media relations, and lists his phone number and email address.

At 2:03 PM on September 17, New York Times journalist Michael J. de la Merced celebrated a huge link he received for a story that didn't mention that a PR firm tied to top Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was handling press for a $17.7B deal that will affect millions of Americans. "DRUDGE SIRENS GALORE," @m_delamerced tweeted.

"Teneo Strategy's David Vermillion is handling press for Altice, which has cable systems in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland, Israel, Dominian Republice and French Caribbean," Kevin McCauley noted at O'Dwyer's PR on Wednesday, which shows that New York Times journalists Merced and Sorkin almost certainly knew about Teneo, but left them out of their story.

Both Merced and Sorkin have ignored my tweets.

Last year, on December 8, 2014, Michael J. de la Merced, "scooped" the world on a story directly related to Teneo, reporting, "Teneo, a corporate advisory firm with an unusually broad array of businesses, has secured backing from the big private equity firm BC Partners, the company plans to disclose this week."

However, Merced's article doesn't make any reference to how he learned about the "company plans". The New York Times reporter doesn't mention a source, named or unnamed, which might be a violation of the paper's rules on journalism ethics.

Merced does paraphrase an exclusive quote he apparently got from one of Teneo's presidents, but, again, there are ethical concerns, if a top business journalist for - arguably - the most important paper in America is publishing stories - that omit key information - based on tips from a powerful P.R. firm. "The investment from BC Partners came about through friendships that some of the firm’s senior executives have with Teneo’s management, according to Richard Powell, the head of Teneo’s communications arm."

"Since its founding by two former FTI executives, Declan Kelly and Paul Keary, and a former Clinton administration aide, Douglas J. Band, the firm has garnered clients like Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical and the Chinese Internet giant Alibaba Group," Merced wrote in December, but didn't mention that both Kelly and Kerry were fundraisers for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was beginning to rev up her presidential campaign, at the time. It also didn't mention that former President Bill Clinton once consulted for the firm, but was reportedly pressured to stop earning money because it was damaging to his wife. So, he instead became a client, allegedly. There also isn't any mention of longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who controversially worked for Teneo, the Clinton Foundation, the State Department and Hillary Clinton, herself, from June of 2012 to February 1, 2013.

According to his LinkedIn resume, Managing Director David Vermillion has been working at Teneo since 2013, after a year as Executive Vice President for Edelman, and it notes, "In 2005, Dave played a central role in the landslide reelection campaign of New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, writing and producing all television and radio commercials and direct mail as well as serving as spokesman for her campaign." Vermillion also worked for Sheinkopf Ltd. as Vice President from 2003 to 2006, for former Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who consulted for President Bill Clinton on his successful 1996 re-election campaign. In 2004, Vermillion was the Treasurer and Chairperson for a 527 called Better Government Committee, with the stated purpose of which was to contribute to other political committees, but no contributions or expenditures were ever recorded.

The New York Times journalists also noted last Wednesday, "But the takeover of Cablevision — one of the last trophies of the American cable industry and the longtime province of its founding family, the Dolans — could also draw significant concern from regulators, particularly as control of the telecom market shrinks to fewer and fewer players."

In their rush to publish an exclusive a few hours early, the reporters didn't even apparently attempt to contact any critics of the deal. And a day later, any story already is in danger of becoming old news. Business journalists reporting on firms that have deep political ties and that will affect how many Americans receive their news should leave room for criticism in all their articles. But not quoting critics might have been a condition of the "scoop", as well.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Washington Post publishes another confusing story about Clinton email server

New spokesman hired by firm scrubbed the website for his own firm days ago to remove name of former President Bill Clinton deputy staff secretary who has been recently defending Hillary Clinton over emails on MSNBC

There won't be any - and certainly shouldn't be - Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the New York Times or the Washington Post for reporting on the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Both papers have made sloppy mistakes and it's hard to tell if their articles have helped or hurt the top 2016 presidential candidate, as opposed to her actual actions since leaving the State Department which have hurt her: deleting emails and taking too long to apologize for using a private account. And nearly one month to the day after publishing a confusing story about the Clinton email server that was seized by the FBI, three of the same four Washington Post journalists strike again.

On August 12, 2015, four top Washington Post journalists - Karen Tumulty, Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol Leonnig - reported, "The e-mail server used by Hillary Rodham Clinton when she served as secretary of state was turned over to the FBI late Wednesday afternoon from a private data center in New Jersey, according to an attorney familiar with the transfer."

The source for that story was "Barbara J. Wells, a Denver lawyer who represents Platte River Networks Inc., a small computer services firm that has managed the Clintons’ private e-mail system since mid-2013."
"After she left government service in early 2013, the Clintons decided to upgrade the system, hiring Platte River as the new manager of a privately managed e-mail network. The old server was removed from the Clinton home by Platte River and stored in a third party data center, which are set up to provide security from threats of hacking and natural disaster, Wells said.

Platte River Networks has retained control of the old server since it took over management of the Clintons’ e-mail system. She said that the old server 'was blank,' and no longer contained useful data.

'The information had been migrated over to a different server for purposes of transition,' from the old system to one run by Platte River, she said, recalling the transfer that occurred in June 2013.

'To my knowledge the data on the old server is not available now on any servers or devices in Platte River Network’s control.
After that story was published, I complained to the four Washington Post journalists on Twitter and in an email that their article was full of misinformation. That there was plenty of information and "useful data" that could be retrieved, even if the server had been wiped, and that constantly quoting Hillary Clinton and lawyers claiming that nothing had been emailed marked classified made no sense since the information itself could be classified. I even suggested that they read a Bloomberg news article to learn more about forensic server retrieving and an editor from Ars Technica retweeted me.

Also, the dateline was confusing, and the Washington Post journalists made no effort to explain it. Why were there multiple servers and did the FBI have the correct one? This couldn't have been the server Hillary Clinton staffers used to send emails to the State Department last winter, if it had been blank since June of 2013.

"Thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state have disappeared off the private server taken into custody by the FBI Wednesday evening, raising questions as to where that data presently resides," Sarah Westwood reported for the Washington Examiner on August 14, 2015. "Platte River Networks does not have any data from the old server that is available on any of the servers or devices that they currently have in their control," Wells told Westwood.

One possible explanation is that the server was transferred to Platte River in reaction to the hacking of Sidney Blumenthal's email account by the Romanian hacker Guccifer in March of 2013, or perhaps it was compromised shortly after, but the feds should be able to determine that. "Someone needs to ask Hillary Clinton or the FBI directly if the FBI has the actual computer that the emails were printed up from," I said to Westwood in a DM conversation last month, in reaction to her story.

"The revelation that Clinton never ordered the server wiped could bolster her statements that her actions have been aboveboard, suggesting that she did not take active steps to hide her e-mails," Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol Leonnig reported for The Washington Post on Friday, only there isn't any "revelation" in their article, just more confusion, perhaps intentional, and it's ludicrous to claim deleting emails isn't an "active step". It would be like arguing that the fictional serial killer Dexter only chopped up a body, and didn't use acid to properly dispose of it, so his "actions have been aboveboard."

The Washington Post journalists have ignored my criticism of other sloppy reporting they have recently committed in related stories.

On August 27, Helderman and Hamburger wrongfully reported, that Huma Abedin "has said little publicly about her multiple roles during that time, a personally tumultuous period following the birth of her son and a texting scandal that ended the political career of her husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.)." But the timeline is completely off. Abedin's "multiple roles" - working for at least four different employers at the same time - were played from June of 2012 until she left the State Department on February 1, 2013, before Weiner ran for mayor. It wasn't a "personally tumultuous period", since Abedin hadn't started pretending, yet, that the Weiners had patched up their marriage issues and counseling had cured his sexting addiction. Abedin lost a lot of supporters when it turned out that interviews she gave to People and The New York Times were, at best, disingenuous.

In that same story, Helderman and Hamburger ignored that one of their sources, longtime Clinton supporter, "Niall O’Dowd, publisher of Irish America magazine" had claimed in a June of 2014 essay that "12 of us old-time Hillary supporters sat with her in a Dublin restaurant at a dinner hosted by businessman Denis O’Brien", as I reported in March, but now the less controversial American Ireland Fund director John Fitzpatrick was being fingered as the host instead of Teneo CEO Declan Kelly or O'Brien, who received bad press coverage in March.

And this line also seems to be ignorant of historical events: "As Clinton was preparing in late 2012 to leave office, Abedin also was considering her post-government career options." Even if her husband won the New York City mayoral race, it was always expected that Abedin would return to Clinton's side as she prepared to launch another presidential campaign that surprised no one.

On August 27, I reported that the same Washington Post article neglected to mention that banking executive Ken Miller was an advisor to the State Department when he contacted Huma Abedin for advice in July of 2012, before taking a job with Teneo. Also, Washington Post journalists ignored my exclusive reporting about Hillary Clinton's last trip to Ireland as Secretary of State which involved events with fundraisers and Teneo CEO Declan Kelly, and when it was confirmed in the emails Citizen United leaked to them, they flubbed the reporting and failed to note key information. The paper has also ignored that Huma Abedin's attorneys have deep ties to the State Department and Hillary Clinton, and never seems to challenge them on how long they've represented her or who is paying them.

"The company that managed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private e-mail server said it has 'no knowledge of the server being wiped,' the strongest indication to date that tens of thousands of e-mails that Clinton has said were deleted could be recovered," Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol Leonnig reported for The Washington Post on Friday. "'Platte River has no knowledge of the server being wiped,'" company spokesman Andy Boian told The Washington Post. All the information we have is that the server wasn’t wiped."

But this is nothing more than a useless sound bite that raises more questions than it answers. Instead of definitively finding out if the server was wiped or not, the reporters based an entire story on a non-definitive statement. If no one connected to the Clinton server can give a straight answer on whether or not it was wiped, then the media should stop quoting them on that topic, and grill them about something else instead. A few weeks ago, Wells hung up on a Bloomberg reporter after asked for further details.

"Even if the e-mails could be restored, it’s unclear whether anyone would have the authority to do so," the Post reporters admit, before, adding, "Conservative groups have already been pressing in court for access to those e-mails, if they exist," which is another example of the paper, yet again, ignoring lawsuits by liberal leaning journalists at Gawker and Vice News.

On August 27, Rosalind Helderman reported claims by Platte River that it had received death threats, but didn't note if any police reports had been made by the firm ("Tom Hamburger, Karen Tumulty and Alice Crites contributed to this report") Their new source is "Andy Boian, a public relations manager brought on last week to help Platte River deal with its newfound fame."
"Last week, an attorney for the company said the server was 'blank' when it was turned over to the FBI. Attorney Barbara Wells also said that at one point, data from the server was 'migrated' to another server for the purpose of making the transition to Platte River.

But Boian, the public relations manager, said he could no longer be confident that Wells’s information about the server being blank had been accurate.
According to his online biography, Andy Boian has had a long career working in Democratic politics, and he was on the "transition teams for both the nation's forty-second president and a United States secretary of the interior." Bill Clinton was the 42nd president, and Boian's Linked In biography adds, "Andy has also been actively involved in politics at the local and national levels as a senior advisor, strategist, and speechwriter. In these capacities he has worked on numerous mayoral, gubernatorial and presidential campaigns for the past 21 years. He served on the transition team for the nation's 42nd President, and two cabinet nominees for two different presidential administrations."

Just days ago, Andy Boian's firm Dovetail Solution's website was scrubbed and Strategic Counselor David Goodfriend's name was removed. "His positions in government service have included deputy staff secretary to President Bill Clinton, professional committee staff to Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), and media legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Susan Ness. Goodfriend helped found Air America Radio and co-hosts “Left Jab” on Sirius-XM. He also is a regular political contributor to MSNBC, CNBC and Fox."

On MNSNBC, David Goodfriend has been blasting the media for its Hillary Clinton coverage, as Media Matters notes: "The second thing is, I saw some very interesting news about a federal judge saying there's nothing wrong with what Hillary Clinton did with respect to deleting personal e-mails. Where is the big coverage of that? Oh, wouldn't you know it, that's just buried, deep, deep, deep. I had to research and Google and try to find it. Oh, here it is! So come on. Don't tell me there's this even-handed treatment of Hillary Clinton -- everybody in the press corps seems to love the gotcha game."

As Google notes, this is "a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Sep 9, 2015":

On August 24,'s Patrick Howley broke the news, that Goodfriend worked for Dovetail Solutions. "Goodfriend took a class at Georgetown Law School with current Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, who was then in between shifts in the Bill Clinton White House," Howley reported. "Goodfriend is reportedly a member of a Hillary Clinton For President organization. His relationship with Podesta was documented."

On April 22, David Goodfriend contributed $2,700 to the Hillary For America presidential campaign. On August 28, 2008, Goodfriend contributed $1,000 to Friends of Hillary, and he gave $2,300 to her general and primary campaigns on October 18, 2007 and another $1,000 to the primary campaign on June 11, 2007.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Joe Wilson invites Hillary Clinton to see 'Fair Game' via Sid Blumenthal

Everyone in the media seems to be mocking Sid Blumenthal's emails to Hillary Clinton from the latest batch released on Monday.

I searched for movie and found Blumenthal forwarding an October 13, 2010 email from former US Ambassador Joe Wilson inviting Hillary Clinton and Potus (ret) aka former President Bill Clinton to see the movie based on himself and his wife, Valerie Plame, "Fair Game". Wilson calls it "the film of our fight with the Bush administration."

Wilson offers the Clintons a choice of screenings to attend or suggests that he can arrange a private screening at their "home or elsewhere. Depending on the time, either Valerie or I would be delighted to attend and answer questions afterwards."

"Valerie and I think that the film tells the story of that time and are proud of it," Wilson adds. "I would be pleased to share it with you."

I reported on the Plame scandal ("Court filings shed more light on CIA leak" and "Jeff Gannon's 'Internal Government Memo' Lie" are two examples), love Naomi Watts, especially love Sean Penn, and Doug Liman's "Go" is a clever film, but this "Fair Game" was even worse than the one with Cindy Crawford and Billy Baldwin. I think the Rotten Tomatoes score of 79 is probably a partisan reaction against Bush and the lies that led to the Iraq war. It didn't even make $10,000,000 at the box office.