Yashar Ali, a prominent reporter who writes for the Huffington Post and New York Magazine, took to Twitter Friday, alleging that Dafna Linzer, an NBC/MSNBC News editor, tried to intimidate him on behalf of the Democratic National Committee.
According to a lengthy and detailed description of his encounter with Linzer, Ali got a tip that the DNC would be announcing the dates of the first 2020 Democratic primary debates as 26 and 27 June 2019. When he contacted the DNC to fact-check the tip, the committee asked him to postpone the publication of his report so that officials could make notification calls. Ali declined, saying the story would leak soon and leave him empty-handed.
Soon after the conversation, he said he received a call from Linzer, who "oversees the political coverage for NBC and MSNBC," and she also asked him to delay the story.
"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," he says. "I kept telling Dafna no, that I wasn't waiting. And she kept getting more frustrated. She was exasperated… she didn't understand why I couldn't wait for the DNC to make their state notification calls."
Ali was surprised Linzer was "talking this way to a total stranger." During the conversation, she reportedly said things "off record" — that Ali did not disclose — which got Ali suspicious and appalled.
"Dafna isn't a source and she was calling to intimidate me, so she doesn't get the benefit," Ali tweeted.
He said he then attempted to end the conversation by saying he needed to talk to his editor about the news.
"No. I want to talk to you about this," Linzer insisted.
When Ali repeated his wish to talk to his editor, the Linzer asked "What's your editor's name? I want to talk to them."
"They were all stunned by what Dafna did and encouraged me to share it publicly," he tweeted.
Ali said people in journalism often introduce people in politics to other journalists, and this process encourages more coverage, not less. During this encounter, however, the editor "was advocating for me to not do something on behalf of a political party."
"What I can't figure out is (and no one else I spoke to could understand), why open yourself up to this for a stupid story? How was this worth it?" he concluded.