I don't think anyone is too surprised.
Clapper ended up on CNN. And usually there's some sort of preexisting relationship there. Government insiders cultivate media contacts. They build up a relationship by leaking the information they want out there. And there's the understanding that when they leave the government, there might be some sort of expert or commentator slot available for them. Not always, but if they're important enough.
And as Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper was certainly important.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper allegedly leaked information to CNN early last year regarding the classified briefings given to then President-Elect Donald Trump and President Barrack Obama on the salacious dossier claiming the Russians had compromising information on the president-elect, according to government sources, who noted the evidence of the leak was collected during the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.
Clapper, who was one of four senior Obama administration officials to attend the briefing with the presidents, also stated his “profound dismay at the leaks” in an official statement issued in January, 2017 and warned that the leaks were “extremely corrosive and damaging” to national security, according to his press release.
And he was shocked at all the gambling going on in Rick's Cafe.
The dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, at the behest of embattled research firm Fusion GPS, was already being shopped around by Steele to journalists in Washington as early as the summer of 2016, according to reports. At the time, journalists who had heard of the dossier were reluctant to publish the findings because of its unverified content. “[Clapper] gave the dossier legs and news agencies began to publish its contents because it had now become official news…”
But it was when CNN published the first report that Trump and Obama had been briefed the dossier’s findings that other news agencies began to report on it. The committee found evidence that Clapper, who is now a contributor at CNN, contacted CNN shortly before the story was published by Tapper, Evan Perez, and Jim Sciutto.
The story detailed the briefings given to Trump by the senior officials on the contents of the dossier and “gave the dossier legs and news agencies began to publish its contents because it had now become official news,” one congressional source told this reporter.
Shortly after CNN published the report, Buzzfeed made the decision to post the entire 35-page dossier and referenced the CNN report in its decision to publish it, according to the website.
Buzzfeed's greed didn't do the dossier any favors. But this is a bit of insight into how the echo chamber works. Obama was briefed on the dossier to make it official. (Same reason Rice sent herself an email.) CNN got the exclusive from Clapper. Everyone could claim plausible deniability. The briefing made the dirty tricks officials. Even though everyone being briefed on it had no doubt been quite familiar with the dossier. CNN could claim that it was reporting official events. The echo chamber stretched across government and the media. And they colluded with each other on a common political goal.