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Glenn Thrush On His Appearance In The #PodestaEmails

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Politico’s Glenn Thrush is a regular and valued guest on my program. He’s also a friend and though I am not a frequent user of his colorful language, I do know that the practice of checking quotes with sources is practiced throughout journalism –as confirmed by National Review’s Eliana Johnson to me on today’s show– and that checking details of stories is also common. (Its often been a courtesy extended me by reporters writing profiles of my, especially when debate season hit.) Glenn joined me this AM;

The audio:


The transcript:

HH: Joined now by Glenn Thrush, chief political correspondent of Politico. Glenn, good morning, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt show.

GT: Good morning.

HH: How do you like being the subject of a story as opposed to the reporter on it?

GT: Oh, man, it sucks.

HH: (laughing)

GT: …you know, particularly when it’s, you know, essentially stolen emails and it’s on process stuff and you’re just trying to break news, you know?

HH: Let me ask, you know, I’ve been reading the harshest treatment of you over at the Daily Caller by Alex Pfeiffer, and I know you two are not friendly. But…

GT: Wait, hold on. I’m not unfriendly. The guy has just been going after me, so…

HH: Yeah, okay. Agreed. And I, by the way…

GT: Yeah.

HH: Full disclosure, Glenn’s a friend of mine, and he did not reveal in a podcast once that I did not know who Louie C.K. was, so I’m deeply indebted to him.

GT: (laughing)

HH: And Glenn’s very funny, so you didn’t…but nevertheless, so people now know my bias. I think there is a whole long of shock, shock there’s gambling going on here. Is it common practice among political reporters to send their stories to principals in order to fact check specifics?

GT: I do it, take this down, Hugh, I mean, there’s two components to that answer. I do a version of read back, what I call read back, with every single story that I do. If I’m doing a story that involves anything that’s in any way controversial or involves facts, complex facts that I require fact checking on, I do it in every single story. Let me give you a larger example of that. When I did a big profile of Speaker John Boehner for Politico Magazine a while ago, probably a year and a half ago, I sat down in Boehner’s office with two of his senior staffers with the text in my hand and essentially read them almost every single word, and they would say yes, this is true, this is not true. And in fact, as a product of most of those interactions, I get more information, not less. On the Podesta one, and again, I’m loathe to kind of talk about reporting methods, because you know, this stuff wouldn’t, you know, this stuff is essentially out there as a result of an illegal hack. But in the Podesta case, essentially what I got him to do was to confirm significant internal details on a story that I had only gotten from sources that were lesser. So essentially, my take on that interaction initially was that I had succeeded in getting him to confirm things that I hadn’t done. Now my language in terms of doing that was, I was, I made a joke. I called myself a hack. You know, not in a million years would I have expected that joke to have become public. And people can say what they want, but you know, I am a big, big, big proponent of letting people who are the subjects of your stories knowing A) what is coming, and B) what the details are so that I can get them right.

HH: Now I can confirm that the time that I was most in the tumbler was when Nick Lehmann, then-dean of the school of Columbia School of Journalism and New Yorker senior political reporter did a profile on me. Nick read back to me every quote before it appeared in the New Yorker, and the New Yorker fact checked the hell out of it to make sure nothing was wrong. That’s why I’m a little surprised by the outrage here. But you just confirmed one of the questions. You do this for Republicans and Democrats to assure accuracy, and you’re always colorful in your language. I can confirm that. But the three people, there are three kinds of people who hate this – those who hate your language, those you hate inside, which by the way is fairly common in journalism, not with me, but with many, those who hate journalists, and those who hate insiders. It’s really the insiders, and I don’t, you know, I realize the Russians did this. It’s not a FOIA hack.

GT: Right.

HH: And I understand that, you know, I know Bartnicki V. Vopper, the Supreme Court case, says we go forward and we use whatever is in the public domain. It’s not illegal for us to talk about it. But we ought to know that the Russians leaked this stuff to hurt Hillary. I know that. But do you agree it’s the insider hating combined with the journalism hating, along with the people who just don’t like vulgarity period?

GT: Yeah, and I think you know, and you package them altogether. Look, people have this suspicion, and the way that the language was in that email, the reason it popped is because the language essentially supports people’s suspicion of stuff. I think there’s this larger suspicion that there’s this club of powerful insiders that are controlling everything. And you know, the problem is I am writing stories, essentially. Here’s the paradox. You know, I don’t have the benefit of being able to hack people’s emails. I am ferreting out information. This is my job to ferret out inside information on campaigns. So for instance, there was a previous Podesta email in which he talks about a very detailed piece that my colleague, Annie Karni, and I did on Hillary Clinton’s refusal month after month to apologize for the email stuff. I mean, it took them six months, her staff, to convince Hillary Clinton to even publicly apologize for it. And in one of those emails, you see Podesta saying nobody came out looking good in that story. That’s precisely the kind of story that I think reveals inside details so people know what is going on inside of…

HH: Glenn, very quickly, because we have less than a minute. Will you be covering the James O’Keefe video from Project Veritas Action or the Clinton-Cartwright double standard, because this goes to whether or not you will only cover Democrats or Republicans? Those are big stories. They both do damage to Clinton. Will you be covering both of those?

GT: I’m sure I’ll be covering, you know, I don’t know, over the next couple of days, what I happen to be working on a larger magazine piece about the election, so it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to be covering anything day to day over the next couple of days apart from the debate. But sure, I’m looking at everything. I will include everything.

HH: Do you think the O’Keefe story is a big story?

GT: I do.

HH: Do you think the O’Keefe story is big?

GT: I think both of them are, sure.

HH: Hey, Glenn Thrush, great, thank you for coming on. I appreciate you doing that when you’re under fire. Keep your head low. Move close to the ground. Stay in that Voya ad.

End of interview.


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