Over the weekend, CNN admitted to using the diary of murdered Libya ambassador Christopher Stevens in its reporting about the security threats that eventually ended his life, much to the chagrin of the State Department. While the U.S. government questioned how CNN could carefully source the found journal without permission, the network countered that its journalism was “raising questions about why the State Department didn’t do more to protect Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel” and charged the State Department with “attacking the messenger.” Today, a third-party reporter pushed the issue with veteran Hillary Clinton aide and spokesman Philippe Reines, who eventually lost his temper and dropped some F-bombs.
Buzzfeed correspondent Michael Hastings, who has opted to publish the entire correspondence, pushed Reines with what the spokesman said were “needlessly antagonistic” questions like, “Why didn’t the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven’s diary first? … Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive — do you think it’s the media’s responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they’ve been attacked?”
After a detailed response from Reines questioning CNN’s integrity in the matter, Hastings replied with a strongly worded e-mail challenging the State Department’s “misinformation.” Then it got uglier:
______________________________________On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 12:45 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:
Why do you bother to ask questions you’ve already decided you know the answers to?
______________________________________From: Michael Hastings Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:50 PM
To: Reines, Philippe I
Cc: Nuland, Victoria J
Subject: Re: Request for comment
Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?
______________________________________On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:
I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated asshole.
How’s that for a non-bullshit response?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day.
And by good day, I mean Fuck Off
It’s not completely atypical flack behavior, but amid an international diplomatic crisis, and coming from the office of Hillary Clinton, the defensiveness over the journal doesn’t look good. Read the full exchange here for more context on the substance of the debate, but rest assured that we’ve highlighted the bad words.