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Clinton camp wanted to 'engage' Media Matters for 'hand to hand combat with press' over Abedin story
Senior Clinton Campaign staffer Huma Abedin and traveling press secretary Nick Merrill (L) are seen after the third U.S. presidential debate. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Clinton camp wanted to 'engage' Media Matters for 'hand to hand combat with press' over Abedin story

Apparently, Hillary Clinton's campaign was worried about a Vanity Fair profile of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin that ran in January. In fact, they were so worried, Nick Merrill, the campaign's traveling press secretary, wanted to "engage" liberal groups Media Matters and Correct the Record for some "hand to hand combat" with the press.

According to a new hacked email published by WikiLeaks, Team Clinton was fearful the Vanity Fair story might bring up concerns about Abedin's alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Merrill called "nonsense," and her overlapping work at the State Department and Teneo, a consulting firm founded by Doug Band, former personal assistant to Bill Clinton.

"If the Teneo/SGE stuff has anything new or noteworthy in it, that will make life a little more difficult, and will require a little more hand to hand combat with press," Merrill wrote.

And it appears Media Matters followed orders. On Jan. 6, 2016, the day the Vanity Fair piece was published and two days after Merrill sent the initial email, the liberal watchdog site published a post titled, "Vanity Fair's Huma Abedin Hit Piece by the Numbers: More Than 500 Words On Whether She Is A Muslim Brotherhood Operative (She Isn't)."

It is important to note there is no direct proof Media Matters coordinated with the Clinton campaign to combat media reports about Abedin's record. However, as Politico's Kenneth Vogel pointed out, any coordination with a political operation is prohibited because Media Matters is — believe it or not — a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization.

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