First reported by The Daily Caller’s Joe Simonson, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General report on the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe found on Thursday that not only were “numerous FBI employees…in frequent contact with reporters” when they shouldn’t have been, but they “improperly receiv[ed] benefits from reporters,” including food, golf trips, and tickets to sporting events.
Before going any further, let that sink in. Journalists were rewarding FBI agents with tangible benefits for leaking information to them for publication. It doesn’t take any cues from the illustrious CNN Media team to realize just how despicable, pathetic, and downright trashy this is and a complete affront to everything journalists should stand for.
On page XII of the executive summary, the report stated that they found “numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters.”
Needless to say, the Inspector General and his team added that they “have profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered during our review.”
But, wait, there’s more! Talking to journalists and leaking information is one thing, but receiving pleasurable benefits from reporters for giving them scoops? Absolutely contemptible behavior.
Here’s the money quote (pun intended) of what FBI officials received from journalists: “In addition, we identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events.”
I’m not a legal expert, but on its face, that sure seems like bribery!
At any rate, the I.G. office emphasized that “[w]e will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded, consistent with the Inspector General Act, other applicable federal statutes, and OIG policy” because of “[t]he harm caused by leaks, fear of potential leaks, and a culture of unauthorized media contacts.”
“We do not believe the problem is with the FBI’s policy, which we found to be clear and unambiguous. Rather, we concluded that these leaks highlight the need to change what appears to be a cultural attitude among many in the organization,” it added.
The I.G. report elaborated on this issue on pages 429 and 430 (click “expand” to read more):
Our ability to identify individuals who have improperly disclosed non-public information is often hampered by two significant factors. First, we frequently find that the universe of Department and FBI employees who had access to sensitive information that has been leaked is substantial, often involving dozens, and in some instances, more than 100 people. We recognize that this is a challenging issue, because keeping information too closely held can harm an investigation and the supervision of it. Nevertheless, we think the Department and the FBI need to consider whether there is a better way to appropriately control the dissemination of sensitive information.
Second, although FBI policy strictly limits the employees who are authorized to speak to the media, we found that this policy appeared to be widely ignored during the period we reviewed.
We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters. The large number of FBI employees who were in contact with journalists during this time period impacted our ability to identify the sources of leaks. For example, during the periods we reviewed, we identified dozens of FBI employees that had contact with members of the media.
Attached to this report as Attachments G and H are link charts that reflects the volume of communications that we identified between FBI employees and media representatives in April/May and October 2016.
In addition to the significant number of communications between FBI employees and journalists, we identified social interactions between FBI employees and journalists that were, at a minimum, inconsistent with FBI policy and Department ethics rules. For example, we identified instances where FBI employees received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were the guests of journalists at nonpublic social events. We will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded, consistent with the Inspector General (IG) Act, other applicable federal statutes, and OIG policy.
Simonson noted that charts in the report showed “one reporter had contact with 12 FBI officials, including an FBI executive and unit chief” while another “contacted an assistant director 21 times and a special agent 23 times, according to the IG.”
“Some FBI employees were in contact with multiple reporters, with one special agent contacting various journalists 32 times,” Simonson added.
Simply put, there are not enough adjectives to describe how repugnant and reprehensible this is. Any media reporter or journalism expert who will try to argue otherwise betrays the very ethics that are preached in journalism schools or in print or television when the public is asked to trust reporters to do their jobs.