The director of rapid response for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign deleted a tweet Wednesday that slammed CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge as a “partisan, rightwing hack” after she obtained a document listing the former vice president as one of the Obama-era officials who reportedly requested the “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“SCOOP: Catherine Herridge is a partisan, rightwing hack who is a regular conduit for conservative media manipulation ploys because she agrees to publicize things before contacting the target to ask for comment,” Andrew Bates wrote in the now-deleted tweet.
Mr. Bates was responding to Ms. Herridge’s “scoop” in which she obtained acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell’s notification to Congress, which included a declassified list of dozens of Obama-era officials who reportedly sought to “unmask” Flynn’s identity in intelligence reports.
Mr. Bates was widely criticized for the comment.
“Part of an authoritarian playbook,” the Trump campaign told to The Hill.
“Gross,” CNN’s Jake Tapper wrote on Twitter. “Personal attacks on journalists for sharing facts is obnoxious and indecent. @JoeBiden approves this message?”
In a later statement, Mr. Bates shrugged off Ms. Herridge’s revelations and said it was another attempt by the Trump administration to deflect from its coronavirus response.
“Donald Trump’s attempt at dishonest media manipulation to distract from his response to the worst public health crisis in 100 years has backfired,” his statement read. “These documents simply indicate the breadth and depth of concern across the American government — including among career officials — over intelligence reports of Michael Flynn’s attempts to undermine ongoing American national security policy through discussions with Russian officials or other foreign representatives.
“Importantly, none of these individuals could have known Flynn’s identity beforehand. These documents have absolutely nothing to do with any FBI investigation and they confirm that all normal procedures were followed — any suggestion otherwise is a flat out lie,” Mr. Bates continued. “What’s more, it’s telling that these documents were selectively leaked by Republicans abusing their congressional powers to act as arms of the Trump campaign after having them provided by a partisan official installed for this very purpose. The only people with questions to answer are Grenell, Sen. [Chuck] Grassley, and Sen. [Ron] Johnson for their gross politicization of the intelligence process.”