New York Times reporter and CNBC host John Harwood emailed John Podesta and the Clinton campaign asking what questions he should ask then-Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush on CNBC, Wikileaks has revealed. His behavior appears to violate basic ethical standards for a political journalist.
Harwood’s email, released Sunday by Wikileaks, is that latest evidence of Harwood’s unseemly chumminess with the Clinton campaign.
Speakeasy is Harwood’s little-watched show on CNBC. Jeb Bush was appearing on the cable financial network as part of a wave of interviews he was doing to revive his struggling campaign.
Bush wouldn’t drop out of the race, though, until February of 2016 — which means that Harwood was asking the Clinton campaign for advice on attacking a potential general election opponent. Indeed, with his email to Podesta, Harwood was effectively allowing the Clinton campaign to plant a question to Bush from a seemingly objective journalist — presumably a serious breach of journalistic ethics.
It’s unclear if Podesta actually suggested any questions to Harwood.
Just a few weeks after his Speakeasy interview with Bush, Harwood’s liberal bias would become the subject of intense media criticism as the moderator of CNBC’s debate between potential Republican nominees. During the debate, several of the Republican candidates lashed out at Harwood and his co-moderators Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla for their aggressive, partisan questions. At one point, Harwood and candidate Sen. Ted Cruz even got into a heated back-and-forth over the debt limit.
Despite the firestorm, Harwood bragged about his debate performance in another email to Podesta, especially the part where he asked Donald Trump, “Let’s be honest, is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
Harwood has appeared elsewhere in the Wikileaks dumps bantering jovially with Podesta. Previously, he was shown warning Podesta that Dr. Ben Carson could prove a difficult general election opponent, responding to claims from the Clinton campaign that he’d engaged in “honest” reporting about Hillary’s stressed-out team in Brooklyn, and commenting to Podesta about how networks were just “burning time” with stories on Hillary’s missing State Department emails. Chummy.
Heat Street has reached out to both the New York Times and CNBC offices to ask if Harwood indeed violated their standards and practices, and has yet to receive a response.