The New York Times and The Washington Post worked with a group run by Stephen K. Bannon, Donald Trump’s top adviser and campaign chairman, to research and draft stories about Hillary Clinton.
In 2015, along with Fox News, the Times and Post arranged with right-wing author Peter Schweizer to get pre-publishing access to the lines of attack against Clinton that were used in the book Clinton Cash.
Clinton Cash was a product of Government Accountability Institute, a conservative group where Schweizer served as President and Bannon was Executive Chairman and Co-Founder.
Other funding for Government Accountability Institute came from the Mercer family, who also went on to heavily bankroll Donald Trump’s campaign and are deeply involved in his transition team.
At the time the unusual arrangement was first reported on, Politico noted that the decision to partner with a conservative opposition research operation on Clinton work “raised a few eyebrows” and was seen as “unusual” by some of the reporters at the paper.
Washington Post National Editor Cameron Barr told Politico, “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.”
Both ABC News and CBS’ 60 Minutes reportedly turned down offers from the Clinton Cash publishers for access to the book’s anti-Clinton materials.
After publication of the book, Schweizer went on to be a contributor at the conservative website Breitbart, which identifies itself with the public relations term “alt right,” a term used by other groups opposed to immigration and in favor of a whites-only ethnic state. Bannon described Breitbart, where he served as CEO as the “platform for the alt right.”
The attacks in Clinton Cash were often no more than innuendo, failing to connect grandiose claims about graft and corruption at the Clinton Foundation with actions by Hillary or Bill Clinton or others at the organization.
Still the Times, Post, and other outlets ran with many of these allegations while underplaying or giving a pass to verified corruption at Donald Trump’s numerous failed businesses and family foundation (which he used to pay off personal expenses).