Yashar Ali, a prominent freelance journalist for New York Magazine and HuffPost, accused a senior NBC news editor of advocating for the Democratic National Committee by trying to delay Ali’s scoop about when and where the party’s first 2020 presidential primary debates will be held.
“Yesterday, I received a call from [Dafna Linzer] who serves as managing editor of NBC/MSNBC politics. Dafna’s conduct during the call was highly inappropriate and unethical. So what was the purpose of her call? She called me to bully me on behalf of the DNC,” Ali said in a tweet Friday.
Representatives for the Democratic National Committee and Linzer at NBC and MSNBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“I’m not naive to the fact that this incident is going to be twisted by some with an agenda to discredit the media and say they collude with political parties,” Ali tweeted. “But I think its more important to expose bad behavior then keep it under wraps. What Dafna did was unethical.”
Ali revealed in his newsletter Thursday that the first DNC debate would be held on Wednesday, June 26 in Miami — and that MSNBC was planning to announce it at 4 p.m. He scooped the network by several hours, but there was no indication at the time of Ali’s newsletter of any behind-the-scenes drama.
Ali declined to comment beyond 25 tweets on the matter, which you can read here.
“Dafna, who oversees the political coverage for NBC and MSNBC, was calling to bully me into delaying the publication of an innocuous scoop and at no point did she advocate for her network, it was only about the DNC,” he wrote.
“I said I couldn’t. She was agitated, “why not?” I said I’m not going to lose a scoop. Then she got angrier and said ‘Why not? It’s not a big deal, let them make a few phone calls. My jaw dropped,” he added. “I realized that @DafnaLinzer, the head of all political coverage for NBC News and MSNBC wasn’t calling to advocate for her network, she was calling to advocate the DNC’s position. She wanted me to wait so they could call state party leaders.”
Ali also said he told the story to ten high profile journalists before posting the thread, all of whom urged him to go public with the story.