Since jumping from Fox News to CBS last year, journalist Catherine Herridge has frustrated Democrats and some of her own co-workers, who worry she pushes “GOP talking points.”
When Attorney General William Barr wanted to defend a decision that thousands of the Department of Justice alumni called indefensible, he knew just the reporter to turn to.
Catherine Herridge has a long history on the justice beat. She also possesses one of the rarer attributes in TV journalism: a massive mainstream platform, serving now as CBS’s senior investigative correspondent. And she has reporting roots at the nation’s leading conservative media outlet, having made the jump late last year from Fox News, where she served for 20 years.
So when Barr announced he would drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, few in the industry were surprised that Herridge scored the exclusive.
Not many were surprised that the interview proved to be far from a grilling.
Rather than aggressively pressing Barr on the decision to not pursue charges against Flynn, Herridge peppered the attorney general with leading questions: “It sounds to me like one of your objectives is to never allow the Justice Department to be used as a political weapon. That’s what you're saying you think happened here?” she added later.
She also lobbed softball questions like, “Has this been one of the most consequential decisions that you have made as attorney general?” And when she was out of questions on the subject, Herridge just rhetorically handed Barr the microphone: “Before we leave this topic, is there anything that you would like to add?”
Days later, Herridge made news again. As acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell prepared to release the names of those officials who had asked to identify Flynn back when he was an unknown subject of a U.S. government surveillance operation, the list found its way to Herridge first.
“Wonder how she got it,” one Democratic campaign operative remarked, with unstated but overflowing snark.
Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign was far less diplomatic. “SCOOP: 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,” snarled the campaign’s rapid-response director Andrew Bates in a now-deleted tweet.
Mainstream media figures, including CNN anchor Jake Tapper, defended Herridge, particularly on the grounds that she was merely performing her job of disseminating a newsworthy document to the public. National security attorney Mark S. Zaid, a Daily Beast contributor who represented the first Trump whistleblower, also defended the CBS reporter: “I’ve worked with @CBS_Herridge for many years & this is untrue. It is also beneath integrity of Biden campaign.”