NEW YORK -- CBS News defended Democratic debate moderator John Dickerson on Friday amid suggestions his advance meetings with campaigns to research their policy positions amounted to unethical coordination.
"It would be inappropriate if John only met with one, or none of the people involved," Christopher Isham, CBS News vice president and Washington bureau chief, said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "He has talked to all of the campaigns. This is basic reporting -- period."
Politico reported Friday that Dickerson met with the Clinton, Sanders, and O'Malley campaigns to discuss their positions on major issues in preparation for Saturday night's debate in Iowa. A CBS News official likened the meetings to the research Dickerson conducts before he interviews guests on "Face the Nation."
Some conservative news sites seized on the meetings as evidence of coordination, giving the Democratic candidates an unfair advantage. Breitbart's John Nolte wrote that Dickerson surely met with the campaigns "in advance of the debate to ensure he does the least amount of harm to the eventual nominee's general election chances."
The Drudge Report framed the Politico story --- "With just three on stage, Democratic debate moderator plans to dive deep" -- as Dickerson coordinating with the three campaigns. The influential conservative site splashed the "coordinate" headline Friday afternoon.
In the hours before the CNN's Democratic debate in October, The Drudge Report amplified a Weekly Standard story claiming moderator Anderson Cooper was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. Cooper moderated a Clinton Global Initiative panel in 2007, but has not returned. He dismissed the claim he was a member of the organization.
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