Leaked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee reveal a family feud between DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and liberal cable news network MSNBC over the channel’s suggestion that Schultz had “rigged” the Democratic primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton.
The e-mails, revealed by Wikileaks, show that DNC staffers and Wasserman Schultz were furious about criticisms on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” that “the system is rigged” against Bernie Sanders. Consequently the DNC set up meetings with MSNBC’s embattled president, Phil Griffin, to try to influence the morning show’s coverage.
On May 18th, Wasserman Schultz was particularly outraged by “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski’s criticism of her handling of the primaries. Brzezinski had called for Wasserman Schultz to resign.
That morning, Luis Miranda, communications director at the DNC, emailed Wasserman Schultz that “Morning Joe today was ridiculous calling it a rigged system for the first hour.”
Within minutes, Wasserman Schultz fired off an email to “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, presumably hoping that Todd could influence his colleagues at “Morning Joe”. Her e-mail was titled “Chuck, this must stop” and demanded a phone call immediately. Todd replied that he was free almost all afternoon, and they apparently moved forward on scheduling a talk.
Wasserman Schultz continued to vent her frustrations to other DNC staffers that morning.
“This is the LAST straw,” Wasserman Schultz wrote Miranda in a message sent from her private gmail. “Please call Phil Griffin. This is outrageous. She needs to apologize.”
“Since you already went to Chuck I’ll wait for his response,” Miranda wrote back.
“I think we need to speak to both of them,” Wasserman Schultz responded. “I’ve been talking to Phil [Griffin] about this since our breakfast.”
Miranda, meanwhile, penned an email to DNC press secretary Mark Paustenback over the Morning Joe hit: “Fucking Joe claiming the system is rigged, party against him, we need to complain to their producer.”
Behind the scenes, Todd and Miranda also corresponded, the emails show, with Miranda imploring Todd to ask the “Morning Joe” team to “at minimum… consider the facts on some the key allegations they’re making.”
“Between us, you think the call is a good idea?” Todd wrote late that night, apparently referring to a scheduled conversation between Wasserman Schultz and Brzezinski.
“Not necessarily,” Miranda wrote. “If Mika doesn’t like her, I’m not sure it’s worth either of their time. I’ve lowered her expectations, but don’t know. If you think Mika is set in stone I’m happy to kill it.”
The next day, Miranda emailed Wasserman Schultz. “Mika is willing to do a call with you, so we need to know if you want to make that happen too. We figure it can’t get worse, so worth having a call,” he advised.
The show’s ire-raising comments came just weeks after an off-the-record sit-down at NBC headquarters between Wasserman Schultz and Griffin to improve relations between the DNC and the network.
In a briefing before the meeting, the DNC called the sit-down an opportunity to “stress that we want to have greater collaboration with their team on having the Democratic Party represented on their shows.”
The briefing memo speculated that Griffin might soon be fired due to low ratings. It went on to note that “Our relationship with NBC/MSNBC is severely frayed given what they perceive as a snub with the last debate, and CNN getting favored treatment. Griffin may raise that concern, and ideally we could lower the temperature and seek common ground.”