CNN's John King pushed a botched Wall Street Journal story about a political donation by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's political action committee to the state senate campaign of the wife of an FBI official, asserting that “boy, it sure stinks when you look at it.” King misleadingly claimed that McAuliffe's PAC donated $500,000 to “a state senate candidate whose husband happens to be a senior official at the FBI who then happens to have been deeply involved deeply in the email investigation” of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's email server. In fact, the Wall Street Journal's own reporting noted that the state senate candidate's husband did not become part of the investigation into Clinton's private email server until “months after the completion of her campaign.” Though Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have picked up on the story, King's coverage of the dubious report shows how easily scandalized Clinton coverage becomes mainstreamed.
The Wall Street Journal's October 23 article, titled “Clinton Ally Aided Campaign of FBI Official's Wife,” attempted to scandalize the $500,000 donation made by McAuliffe's PAC by suggesting that there may have been a conflict of interest between McAuliffe's “longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton” and a donation to “the wife of a federal official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton's email use.” The reporting, however, failed to support any claim of impropriety and noted that the FBI did not see it “as a conflict or an ethics issue.” Journalists on Twitter mocked the story, noting that it would have required “a time machine” for McAuliffe to "psychically predict the FBI guy would LATER be involved" in the investigation. The piece also acknowledged that “McAuliffe wasn't part of the email probe” and that the FBI official involved “played no role, attended no events, and did not participate in fundraising or support of any kind” for his wife's campaign. From the October 24 edition of CNN's Inside Politics:
JOHN KING (HOST): There's a story in The Wall Street Journal today about the Virginia governor using his PAC to take nearly $500,000 to a state senate candidate whose husband happens to be a senior official at the FBI, who then happens to have been involved deeply in the email investigation. And even if there's nothing nefarious there, boy, it sure stinks when you look at and you start to connect these dots.