CNN cuts ties with Donna Brazile for leaking debate questions to Hilary

CNN quietly cut ties with Donna Brazile, the acting Democratic National Committee chair and a longtime contributor on the cable news network, after hacked emails published by WikiLeaks revealed that she had provided questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign in advance of a town hall and debate hosted by CNN during the Democratic primary.

According to a spokeswoman for the network, CNN accepted Brazile’s resignation on Oct. 14.

The emails showed that Brazile — whose role as a CNN contributor was suspended in July after she took over for departing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz — shared with the Clinton campaign a question that would be posed to Clinton before the CNN Democratic Debate in Flint, Mich., in March, and another before a CNN town hall in Columbus, Ohio, a week later.

The network vehemently denied giving Brazile access to debate questions in advance.

“CNN never gave Brazile access to any questions, prep material, attendee list, background information or meetings in advance of a town hall or debate,” the spokeswoman, Lauren Pratapas, said in a statement. “We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor.”

Brazile has appeared as a guest on Yahoo News’ live coverage of campaign events, including the recent presidential debates, but was not paid for any of those appearances.

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Brazile did not respond to a request for comment.

On Twitter, she referred media to her previous statement about the emails exposed by WikiLeaks. (“This is exactly what the Russians intended to do. And they’re doing it,” Brazile said on Oct. 11.) She also thanked CNN and wished her former colleagues well.

Brazile removes her CNN credential so she may participate in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
Brazile removes her CNN credential so she may participate in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

All of the major cable news networks feature paid political operatives on air. But CNN has been harshly criticized for employing Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, while he was still being paid $20,000 per month by the Republican nominee.

Before leaving the Trump campaign in June, Lewandowski signed a nondisclosure agreement that would presumably prevent him from speaking candidly about the candidate. According to Politico, that agreement caused Lewandowski to lose a $1.2 million offer from HarperCollins to write a book about his experience managing the brash real estate mogul.

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In August, CNN chief Jeff Zucker defended the hiring of Lewandowski.

“The reason we hired Corey is that now that we are in the general election, I think it’s really important to have voices on CNN who are supportive of the Republican nominee,” Zucker told Variety. “It’s hard to find a lot of those. Our competitors tried to hire him too.”

“I actually think he’s done a really nice job,” Zucker added. “He’s come under a much greater spotlight because of who he is and the relationship he’s had with the media. As a result, people are going to be more critical.”

Brazile has seen the effects of being under a greater spotlight firsthand.

On Sunday, she warned those sending her hateful messages online, and expressed universal campaign fatigue.