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Jake Tapper Donna Brazile Evan Agostini/Paul Sancya/AP

In this June 20, 2016, photo, CNN news anchor Jake Tapper, left, attends the Museum of the Moving Image's 2016 Industry Tribute in New York. Donna Brazile, right, appears on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016.

November 09, 2017

Former DNC chairwoman targets CNN's Jake Tapper for 'betraying' her

Donna Brazile writes about her reaction to the Philly native's condemnations in the wake of the DNC email hack

Political strategist and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile is settling scores in her newly published book, an insider's analysis of the breakdowns that led to the election of Donald Trump.

One of her many targets is CNN anchor Jake Tapper.

Brazile came to serve as interim chairwoman of the DNC in the wake of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's resignation from the post in July 2016, just as the Democratic National Convention rolled into Philadelphia. 

The change was prompted by leaked emails that showed a clear bias toward Hillary Clinton during the primaries, which was one of the recurring themes of Brazile's book, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House."

But long before emails leaked, Brazile had fed into that preferential treatment, causing a stir when it was revealed she slipped a preview question to Clinton ahead of a CNN debate against Sanders in March 2016.

The John Podesta emails, dumped by WikiLeaks, contained the following item from Brazile to Podesta and Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.

"One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash," Brazile wrote. "Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint."

Brazile's leak was made worse by the fact she had been working as a regular commentator for CNN's election coverage. Once her actions were revealed — she claimed she couldn't find a record of the email — CNN cut ties with her. Brazile didn't appreciate Tapper's reaction to the controversy, according to the Washington Examiner.

“The next day, even Jake Tapper took a swing at me, calling me unethical and ‘journalistically horrifying’ during a radio interview with WMAL even though I worked for CNN as a commentator not a journalist,” [Brazile] wrote in her book.

“When I called him on this,” she continued, “he did not apologize. His attack on me was really about him. He wrote in an email, ‘I don’t know what happened here except it undermines the integrity of my work and CNN … you have to know how betrayed we all feel.'”

Given the arrangement and media platform Brazile had, her comments seem to latch onto a strained semantic difference. She was employed as a commentator for a network required to adhere to the ethical standards of journalism — and she leaked a planned question from her employer to a political candidate. Still, she felt betrayed for getting fired.

“The feeling is mutual, my friend,” she wrote of Tapper.

Brazile's book is sending shockwaves across Washington, with painful revelations pointing to the Democrats' concern that Clinton's campaign had an "odor of failure" that couldn't be overcome. 

It's hard to see how playing favorites in a pivotal early debate wouldn't have contributed to forcing the issue of Clinton's historic candidacy, even as its privileges rendered Brazile an enabling political operative on a sinking ship.