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NY Times, WaPo and Fox News Secure Access to Anti-Hillary Opposition Research

The New York Times report on a new anti-Hillary Clinton book points out that the Times and Fox News have both secured deals to gain access to the author’s wealth of anti-Clinton opposition research.

Peter Schweizer‘s Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich is an extensive investigation into the controversial donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities. Schweizer is a conservative writer who serves as president of the Government Accountability Institute and is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The book, due out May 5, 2015 through Harper publishing, asserts that some of the foreign benefactors received favors or preferential treatment from Clinton’s State Department in return for their generous donations.

While previous anti-Clinton books have been easily dismissed by her camp as “propaganda” — one from Edward Klein and another from National Review‘s Daniel Halperthe Times noted that Clinton Cash has gained traction with major media outlets considered ideological opposites:

“Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.

Politico media reporter Dylan Byers followed up on that lead and discovered that several major outlets also passed up on access to Schweizer’s research:

On Monday, a source with knowledge of the arrangements told the On Media blog that The Washington Post did not have an exclusive arrangment [sic] with Schweizer, and had turned down such an offer. The same source said that CBS’ “60 Minutes” and ABC News also turned down offers for similar exclusive access to portions of the book’s contents. Spokespeople from the Post, ’60 Minutes’ and ABC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One of the big secrets of the media business is that many major stories and tips come via opposition researchers. Yet the move has raised some eyebrows at the Times, as Byers noted:

[T]he Times’ decision to partner with a partisan researcher has raised a few eyebrows in that paper’s newsroom, where some reporters view the agreement as unusual, sources there said. Still others defended the agreement, noting that it was no different from using a campaign’s opposition research to inform one’s reporting — so long as that research is fact-checked and vetted.

More on Clinton Cash here.

UPDATE — 3:30 p.m. ET: Fox News EVP Michael Clemente has issued the following statement on the matter:

“We have secured the television exclusive to report on the forthcoming book, Clinton Cash, as all major news outlets have done for decades with a multitude of books. There is no exclusive arrangement to ‘pursue story lines’ — we have conducted our own independent research and reporting on the contents of the book. This was the same process we used in securing an advance copy of 13 Hours and Things That Matter, which were both the subject of one-hour FOX News documentaries.”

UPDATE — 6:30 p.m. ET: Although WaPo did not get an exclusive deal for the research, they did indeed get access. Statement below via Wemple Blog

“We made an arrangement with Peter Schweizer’s publisher so we could read his book before publication because we are always willing to look at new information that could inform our coverage. Mr. Schweizer’s background and his point of view are relevant factors, but not disqualifying ones. What interests us more are his facts and whether they can be the basis for further reporting by our own staff that would be compelling to our readers. There is no financial aspect to this arrangement.”

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