April 10, 2015: Clinton’s staff hosts a private “off-the-record” cocktail party with 38 “influential” reporters, anchors, and editors.

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Tom Williams / Congressional Quarterly / Roll Call)

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Tom Williams / Congressional Quarterly / Roll Call)

In an April 10, 2015 email, Clinton’s deputy press secretary Jesse Ferguson describes an “off-the-record” cocktail party for “key national reporters, influential reporters, anchors and editors. … Especially (though not exclusively) those that are based in New York.” Top level Clinton staff are also invited. It is to take place one day later in the home of Clinton strategist Joel Benenson, in the Upper East Side of New York City.

The memo also lists the pre-campaign goals Clinton’s staff hopes to achieve by having the cocktail party:

  • Give reporters their first thoughts from team HRC [Clinton] in advance of the announcement
  • Setting expectations for the announcement and launch period
  • Framing the HRC message and framing the race
  •  Enjoy a Friday night drink before working more

Thirty-eight “influential reporters, anchors and editors” are also listed, and agree to attend the party. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)

A second email sent on Apil 6, 2015 indicates a second dinner party is also planned for “April 9th at 7:00 p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).” (Wikileaks, 10/16/2016)

A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox.

These emails will be released by Wikileaks in October, 2016.

August 24, 2016: Clinton criticizes an Associated Press article about her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors.

On August 24, 2016, the Associated Press published an article that claims more than half of all the private citizens Clinton met with when she was secretary of state had donated to the Clinton Foundation.

In a CNN interview later that same day, Clinton says the article is “a lot of smoke and no fire.” She adds, “This AP report, put it in context. It excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders. That is absurd. These are people I was proud to meet with, who any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with.”

The Associated Press made clear at the start of the article that they were excluding meetings with US and foreign politicians, since those presumably would take place as part of her government duties anyway. (Politico, 8/24/2016)

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Clinton surrogates from left to right, Joel Benenson, Robby Mook, James Carville, Brian Fallon, and Donna Shalala. (Credit: all photos in public domain)

Clinton’s surrogates in the media also are very critical of the article. For instance, a Politico article about it later on the same day is entitled “Clinton camp rages against AP report.” The article notes that Clinton’s chief strategist Joel Benenson, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, long-time Clinton ally James Carville, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon, and Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala all make the same point in media interviews, that the Associated Press is “cherry-picking” by limiting its analysis to only private citizens who met with Clinton. They also assert that no wrongdoing on Clinton’s part was proven by the article. (Politico, 8/24/2016)