Joe Biden Aide Attacks CBS Reporter for Flynn ‘Unmasking’ Memo

Obama / Joe Biden
AP File Photo/Susan Walsh

A top Joe Biden aide lashed out at a CBS News correspondent for reporting on the release of a new memo indicating the former vice president was aware of the “unmasking” of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

On Wednesday, CBS News’s senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge made public a memo from acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. The memo, which was declassified earlier this week and sent to members of the United States Senate, included a list of Obama administration officials who requested the names of American citizens picked up in national security surveillance between the end of the 2016 general election and when President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

The list is central to Flynn’s recent legal troubles. The former NSA adviser held several private phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the days after the 2016 election, before Trump took office. Many of the calls were picked up by U.S. intelligence, resulting in Flynn’s name being leaked illegally to the media. Flynn was later prosecuted for lying to federal law enforcement about the calls with Kislyak, but the case has since been dropped by the Department of Justice.

Herridge’s making public the memo, which includes Biden’s name, drew the ire of Andrew Bates, the former vice president’s rapid response director, on Wednesday. After issuing an official statement on the “unmasking list,” Bates took to social media to personally lambast Herridge, suggesting she was politically compromised as a reporter for once having worked at Fox News.

“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,” Bates said in a now-deleted tweet responding to Herridge’s announcement of the memo.

The campaign official offered no explanation or apology for the outburst or his deletion, and he has not revoked his share, or retweet, of a Democrat consultant questioning why CBS hired Herridge from Fox News — in response to Bates’ now-scrubbed criticism.

Bates’ comments come only days after the former vice president pledged that in a “Biden White House, there will be no bullying of the media from the press room podium or by tweet.”

“A free press is essential to a free society. Tyrants know this all too well. That is why attacking the press and attempting to intimidate independent media is a standard part of the authoritarian playbook,” Biden said in a statement earlier this month honoring World Press Freedom Day.

Neither CBS News nor the Biden campaign responded to requests for comments on this story before press time.

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