Fox News' Fox & Friends seized on the latest testimonies of Hillary Clinton aides before the House Select Committee on Benghazi to push the long debunked myths that Obama administration officials altered talking points on the attack to cover up or alter the facts for political purposes, and falsely blamed an inflammatory anti-Islam video for inciting the attack. In reality, a bipartisan Senate review of the attack determined there was no effort by the Obama administration to alter their talking points for political purposes, and U.S. intelligence, suspected attackers, and witnesses have repeatedly linked the inflammatory video to the attack.
During an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius thoroughly debunked arguments that Hillary Clinton should be charged with a crime as a result of her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. When MSNBC re-aired the first hour of its program later in the morning, the bulk of Ignatius' debunking had been edited out.
On the September 4 edition of Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski continued their efforts to stoke controversy around Hillary Clinton's email practices while serving as secretary of state. Both Scarborough and Brzezinski suggested that guest David Ignatius was simply "getting tired" of the wall-to-wall media coverage directed at Clinton after the columnist authored an August 28 op-ed in The Washington Post arguing that "this 'scandal' is overstated." Ignatius responded by explaining that experts he spoke with dismissed as far-fetched claims Clinton committed a criminal offense.
But during the rebroadcast of the segment, Morning Joe cut away from Ignatius' explanation mid-sentence. During the initial broadcast, Ignatius said (emphasis added), "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution."
When the segment re-aired, Ignatius is heard saying, "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this," before the show skipped forward to a remark by co-host Mika Brzezinski about Clinton aide Cheryl Mills.
Significantly, the rebroadcast failed to include the conclusion of Ignatius' thought, which is that Clinton's email practices do not amount to a prosecutable offense, according to several expert attorneys he talked to. Here are Ignatius' unedited remarks (emphasis added):
JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, so you have over the past week or two turned a bit in some of your editorial, in some of your op-eds, you've said you would rather hear Hillary's policy positions than more talk about the servers, you said you don't think she faces any criminal prosecution. You haven't exactly said nothing is here, move along, move along, but you've certainly --
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Getting tired of it, which is what they're hoping.
SCARBOROUGH: -- Yeah, I mean aren't you playing into what the Clinton sort of scandal response team wants, which is so much stuff comes at you that at some point you just say, "Come on, let's just move on."
DAVID IGNATIUS: Joe, I've tried to respond as a journalist but in particular I've tried to look at what is a real prosecutable offense here. There are violations clearly both of administrative procedure and probably technically of law and how classified information was handled. As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution.
SCARBOROUGH: But this isn't happenstance. This is a very calculated move to say if you want to communicate with the Secretary of State, as Edwards Snowden said, whether you are a foreign diplomat or a spy chief from another country or a leader of another country, which they all did, you've got to come to this unsecured server, whether it is in Colorado or wherever it is, and there is a standard in the U.S. Code under prosecutions for this sort of thing which is gross negligence. It's not a know or should have known -
IGNATIUS: This issue comes up surprisingly often because there is an administrative problem where people do these things and their security officers summon them and warn them and issue reprimands and it goes in their file and it's a serious personnel administrative problem. My only point is I couldn't find a case where this kind of activity had been prosecuted and that's just worth noting as we assemble our Clinton e-mail - and more thing, Joe, legally there is no difference between her using her private server and if she'd used State.gov, which is also not a classified system. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used State.gov, not legally, no difference.
Here is how Morning Joe re-aired the segment:
Scarborough, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, has a long history of hyping the supposed Clinton email "scandal" despite all evidence to the contrary. He recently claimed that Clinton intentionally timed a press conference to coincide with a mass-shooting in Virginia and falsely claimed that Clinton whitewashed a foreign country's ties to international terrorism in exchange for a charitable donation to her family foundation.
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The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed denying the fact that reducing ozone pollution -- the key component of smog -- will result in public health benefits. Medical and environmental experts castigated the op-ed as "completely outside of scientific understanding," "blatantly false," and "a sad and shallow screed."
From the September 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News cited anonymous sources to scandalize the State Department's decision to recategorize some of Hillary Clinton's emails, using technical language to avoid admitting that the emails were simply designated as privileged communications -- a common type of redaction to protect agency deliberations. Instead, Fox hyped the change as evidence of a concerted cover-up to "hide classified info."
Morning shows seized on a faulty Washington Post headline to allege that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton inappropriately wrote and sent classified emails during her time as secretary of state, whitewashing the fact that her emails were only retroactively marked "classified" and the opinion of experts that the existence of potentially classified information is not inherently obvious.
Fox News figures twisted a 2009 executive order to allege that communications related to or with foreign officials are "automatically classified," a misrepresentation of the law meant to smear Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's email use while secretary of state.
From the September 2 edition of CNN's New Day:
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News outlets are calling out a misleading conservative media claim that Hillary Clinton's email use mirrors the improper acts of former CIA Director John Deutch, who intentionally created and stored top secret material on unsecure systems. By contrast, "State Department officials say they don't believe that emails [Clinton] sent or received included material classified at the time," which is why experts conclude the Deutch case does not "fit the fact pattern with the Clinton e-mails."
Fox & Friends repeatedly hyped an old, flawed claim that Hillary Clinton's iPad use contradicts her previous statement that she established a personal email account to facilitate the use of a single mobile device. However, this speculation relies on a flawed timeline to ignore the fact that the iPad did not exist until the year after Clinton's personal email account was established.
From the September 1 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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There's no evidence Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or her aides violated any laws with her use of a private email server while secretary of state, according to government secrecy experts cited by the Associated Press.
Conservative media have tried their best to spin Clinton's email use into accusations that she committed a crime by mishandling classified information, even baselessly comparing her to those who did, such as former Gen. David Petraeus and John Deutch, despite the fact that this smear has been debunked.
Yet intelligence and government secrecy law experts refute claims that Clinton could face criminal action for the handling of her emails, according to the Associated Press on August 31. As AP explained, "[T]o prove a crime, the government would have to demonstrate that Clinton or aides knew they were mishandling the information -- not that she should have known," and as one expert noted, "A case would be possible if material emerges that is so sensitive Clinton must have known it was highly classified, whether marked or not," but "no such email has surfaced":
Experts in government secrecy law see almost no possibility of criminal action against Hillary Clinton or her top aides in connection with now-classified information sent over unsecure email while she was secretary of state, based on the public evidence thus far.
Some Republicans, including leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, have called Clinton's actions criminal and compared her situation to that of David Petraeus, the former CIA director who was prosecuted after giving top secret information to his paramour. Others have cited the case of another past CIA chief, John Deutch, who took highly classified material home.
But in both of those cases, no one disputed that the information was highly classified and in many cases top secret. Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor; Deutch was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
By contrast, there is no evidence of emails stored in Hillary Clinton's private server bearing classified markings. State Department officials say they don't believe that emails she sent or received included material classified at the time. And even if other government officials dispute that assertion, it is extremely difficult to prove anyone knowingly mishandled secrets.
Although political controversy has centered on Clinton's use of private email instead of an unsecured government account, the distinction matters little in the context of classified information. Clinton says State Department rules allowed her to use private email and officials knew about it.
CNN repeatedly asked former Vice President Dick Cheney for his criticism of Hillary Clinton's email practices during her time as secretary of state, but the network failed to acknowledge the fact that Colin Powell, who was secretary of state during the Bush-Cheney administration, similarly used a private email account to conduct State business.
In an August 30 USA Today opinion piece, the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the prosecution of retired Gen. David Petraeus for mishandling classified state secrets debunked the false comparison by conservative media of Hillary Clinton's email use to Petraeus' actions, explaining that the "comparison has no merit" because "Petraeus knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct" and "Clinton is not being investigation for knowingly sending or receiving classified materials improperly."
Right-wing media frequently hype what they claim are similarities between the two cases, despite the fact that columnists and thought leaders in mainstream media have dismissed it as "inapt," and experts insist "there's no comparison between the Clinton email issue and the Petraeus case."
Writing in USA Today, Anne M. Tomkins, the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the prosecution of Petraeus (and current Hillary Clinton campaign donor), effectively dismantled conservative media's comparison, explaining, "Unlike Petraeus, Clinton did not 'knowingly' store or share classified information in violation of the law":
Both the law and his oath required Petraeus to mark these books as "top secret" and to store them in a Secured Compartmented Information Facility. He did neither.
Rather, Petraeus allowed his biographer to take possession of the journals in order to use them as source material for his biography.
Importantly, Petraeus was well aware of the classified contents in his journals, saying to his biographer, Paula Broadwell on tape, "I mean, they are highly classified, some of them. They don't have it on it, but I mean there's code word stuff in there."
When questioned by the FBI, Petraeus lied to agents in responding that he had neither improperly stored nor improperly provided classified information to his biographer. As Mukasey also highlighted, the key element is that Petraeus' conduct was done "knowingly." That is, when he stored his journals containing "highly classified" information at his home, he did so knowingly. Petraeus knew at that time that there was classified information in the journals, and he knew they were stored improperly.
In sharp contrast, Clinton is not being investigated for knowingly sending or receiving classified materials improperly.
Indeed, the State Department has confirmed that none of the information that has surfaced on Clinton's server thus far was classified at the time it was sent or received. Additionally, the Justice Department indicated that its inquiry is not a criminal one and that Clinton is not the subject of the inquiry.
From the August 28 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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