From the September 4 edition of MSNBC's MSNBC Live:
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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.
A reader tip contributed to this story. Thank you for your support and keep them coming.
From the September 3 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Robert Morrow is the co-author of the forthcoming book The Clintons' War on Women with former top Donald Trump aide Roger Stone. Morrow has wished death on Hillary Clinton and been visited by the Secret Service; posted bizarre sexual writings about the former secretary of state; called Chelsea Clinton a "slut" and imagined how she would "have sex one day" with Bill Clinton; posted about "niggers" and "pro-faggot JUDICIAL ACTIVISM"; and claimed the Bush and Clinton families were involved in murders. Stone also has a disreputable history: he formed an anti-Clinton group called "C.U.N.T." and called Chelsea a "total bitch."
From the September 3 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Hillary Clinton likes to watch Parks and Recreation.
That's what the Clinton email kerfuffle seemed to amount to this week. News organization excitedly dove into the latest trove of emails released from Clinton's time as secretary of state, only to have to settle for vacuous nuggets about her TV viewing habits.
We seem to be at the stage where the mere existence of publicly-available Clinton emails prompts journalists to hype each additional set as big news, even when the contents of the emails are non-descript. Hard-wired into the Republican way of thinking, the Beltway press often automatically treats Clinton's electronic communications as damning and suspect.
But they're not.
We've seen this pattern repeated numerous times in recent days, and not just with the latest, monthly release of Clinton's State Department emails. Last week, news outlets including CNN, Washington Post, and ABC News dutifully typed up reports about emails obtained by the Clinton-bashing group Citizens United, which filed lawsuits for the release of Hillary Clinton's communications. Presented as containing some damning revelations, upon closer examination the emails simply produced more yawns. They contained nothing proving any kind of wrongdoing on the part of Clinton. (Unless Clinton aide Huma Abedin using emails to organize a small dinner for the former secretary of state now qualifies as wrongdoing.)
Ordinarily, I might chalk up this oddly breathless coverage about ho-hum emails to the summer doldrums, as journalists are hard-pressed to create compelling content during the traditionally slow news month of August. But the Beltway press did the exact same thing with the previous email release. And I suspect we'll see this pattern continue for months to come, in part because a U.S. District court has decreed that the email dumps are going to be monthly events through January.
There have now been three enormous batches of State Department emails released, totaling more than 10,000 pages, and none of them have produced blockbuster revelations or truly fueled the so-called Clinton email scandal.
So why hasn't the press treated the release of boring, "mundane" emails as proof that widespread partisan claims of malfeasance are simply not supported? Why doesn't the press openly concede that the email disclosures that show the former secretary of state to be funny and hardworking represent good news for Clinton, instead of perpetually presenting them as bad news? (i.e. A "fresh headache," according to Yahoo News.)
As I previously noted, the out-of-context coverage likely stems from the fact there's a standing army of Clinton-assigned journalists who are responsible for producing endless content for the next year. Additionally, many in the press have invested a huge amount of capital in the email story since it broke in March, and now seem reluctant to acknowledge there might not be any there there.
Today in fact, The New York Times published a column from a Republican operative who announced the email story had "crippled" Clinton's campaign, and claimed she may have committed a crime worse than former CIA director David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to unauthorized removal and retention of classified information. The Times published this claim days after Petraeus' prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, explained there's no connection between the two cases and that unlike Petraeus, "Clinton committed no crime."
Elsewhere, the press forged ahead on the email dump in search of news. This was Politico's news lede for the email release:
A new batch of Hillary Clinton's emails made public by the State Department on Monday night show her expressing interest in the presidential aspirations of Gen. David Petraeus, who ultimately took a job as CIA director in the Obama administration rather than run for president in 2012 and was then driven out of government by scandal.
According to Politico, the most newsworthy "insight" from the thousands of Clinton emails released this month was that the former secretary of state expressed "interest" that a famous U.S. general was possibly eyeing a White House run. How did Politico gage Clinton's "interest"? How did Politico conclude she "sounded intrigued"? A friend emailed Clinton some information in 2010 and she typed back a five-word response.
Meanwhile, after being given Clinton emails from Citizen United regarding foreign speech offers Bill Clinton had received, and his insistence on getting guidance from the State Department on whether he should accept the offers (he did not), ABC News's Jonathan Karl announced:
ABC News has obtained State Department e-mails that shed light on Bill Clinton's lucrative speaking engagements and show he and the Clinton Foundation tried to get approval for invitations related to two of the most repressive countries in the world -- North Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In fact, the emails did not show Clinton and the Foundation "tried to get approval." The emails showed that Clinton and the Foundation sought advice on the matter. At no point did Clinton or the Foundation try to overrule the State Department. And in the end neither invitation was accepted.
In other words, Bill Clinton's office routinely ran speech requests past the State Department to "review for any real or apparent conflict of interest with the duties of Secretary of State." So when ABC News obtained emails that confirmed that fact, rather that presenting the emails as proof the Clintons did in private exactly what they said they were doing in public, ABC News presented the emails as somehow troubling and controversial -- they showed "show just how far Bill Clinton was willing to go to earn those lucrative fees."
This is what's called heads you lose/tails you lose.
Without any discernible news value found in the emails themselves, the press instead clings to the "glimpse" and "window" crutch. From ABC News: "The emails also provide a glimpse into the person behind the office." And The New York Times stressed the emails "offered a rare window into" the Clintons.
But again, how does a "glimpse" into routine communications pass as news? It doesn't.
The truth is, the wind continues to go out of the email "scandal" sails. As the Associated Press reported this week, experts agree there's currently virtually no chance Clinton faces any criminal jeopardy over the handling of her emails.
Indeed, after speaking with "half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers," longtime Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius recently broke from the D.C. pack and concluded the email "'scandal' is overstated."
So with the criminal element of the so-called scandal evaporating, the press is left to dwell on the perception and the optics of the controversy. And the press remains mostly in heated agreement that it's all very bad news for Clinton, insisting this summer that her polling has gone "under water" because of it. (Note that a national survey released Tuesday showed Clinton maintaining a 35-point lead in the Democratic primary race, the same large advantage she enjoyed the previous month.)
"Clinton" + "email" has become media shorthand for big, big news. But with each new batch of emails released, it's becoming impossible to defend that formula.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called out Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for the "insidious political crime" of increasingly "attacking the First Amendment's protection of a free press by menacing journalists."
In an essay for The Washington Post's PostEverything section, Abdul-Jabbar detailed Trump's increasingly hostile attacks on the press. On two separate occasions, Trump has thrown Hispanic journalists out of his press conferences. When Fox News' Megyn Kelly asked him during the first GOP debate to account for his offensive rhetoric towards women, Trump repeatedly castigated her for being "unfair" to him, even telling CNN's Don Lemon, "You could see the blood coming out of her eyes ... Blood coming out of her wherever" before declaring Kelly owed him an apology. Even local media outlets are not immune from Trump's ire -- the candidate banned the Des Moines Register from an Iowa campaign event after he was criticized in an editorial.
"If Americans learned that a leader in another country was threatening reporters, we would be outraged," Abdul-Jabbar wrote, "Yet here it is. Right here. Right now." Trump's goal is presumably "to stifle other journalists who might want to ask tough but reasonable questions":
Attempting to bully the press to silence criticism of him is anti-American. He followed up this salvo on the First Amendment with a strike at the 14th Amendment, asserting that he'd like to deny those born in the country their citizenship. The biggest enemy to the principles of the Constitution right now is Trump.
Trump's rationale for avoiding Kelly's debate question - that neither he nor America has time for "political correctness" - taps into a popular boogeyman. The term "political correctness" is so general that to most people it simply means a discomfort with changing times and attitudes, an attack on the traditions of how we were raised. (It's an emotional challenge every generation has had to go through.) What it really means is nothing more than sensitizing people to the fact that some old-fashioned words, attitudes and actions may be harmful or insulting to others. Naturally, people are angry about that because it makes them feel stupid or mean when they really aren't. But when times change, we need to change with them in areas that strengthen our society.
Although each absurd, uninformed or just plain incorrect statement seems to give Trump a bump in the polls, there are only so many times supporters can defend his outrageous assault on decency, truth and civility. Yes, a few will remain no matter what. (One 63-year-old woman told CNN that the Republicans were out to discredit Trump: "They twisted what the words were, because they're trying to destroy him." No one has to twist his words because what he says is twisted enough. He speaks fluent pretzel.) But voters will eventually see the light.
Trump subsequently responded to the essay, with personal attacks that Abdul-Jabbar called "the best, though inelegant, support for my claims. Here again, he attacks a journalist who disagrees with him, not by disputing the points made but by hurling schoolyard insults such as 'nobody likes you.' Look behind the nasty invective and you find an assault on the Constitution in the effort to silence the press through intimidation." Trump wrote:
Now I know why the press always treated you so badly -- they couldn't stand you. The fact is that you don't have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again!
From the September 3 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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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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In reporting on conservative activist James O'Keefe's latest absurd adventure, major media coverage acknowledged it was a flop and something of a joke, except for the New York Times.
O'Keefe held a press conference to announce that his group Project Veritas had released an undercover video of the Clinton campaign allowing a Canadian to give a Project Veritas operative money so that she could purchase a Clinton t-shirt, which was a campaign product that could not be legally purchased by a non-American. At his event O'Keefe presented the incident as if it were a major scandal, while most of the press reported that it was at best a trivial infraction of less than $80.
Bloomberg Politics compared the offense to "jaywalking," National Journal described O'Keefe's press conference as a "vortex of political absurdity" and noted that "we had been snookered into another supposedly salacious release from O'Keefe's organization." The Los Angeles Times said the story, "billed as a blockbuster," was "hardly the stuff of a Pulitzer Prize. " The event and revelation were so underwhelming that a reporter from the Daily Beast asked O'Keefe, "Are you sure it's not a joke?"
The New York Times' Alan Rappeport, in an article headlined "James O'Keefe, Political Sleuth," was far more charitable than the rest of the media. Rappeport wrote that O'Keefe "fired an opening salvo" in 2016 coverage and "campaigns were put on notice on Tuesday."
The Times accepted O'Keefe's framing of the exchange between the Canadian woman and the Project Veritas staffer, writing, "Mr. O'Keefe made the case that the video showed a willingness by the campaign to skirt laws that forbid taking donations from foreigners by using a conduit." In fact the video shows a Clinton staffer pointing out that a foreign national is prohibited from buying the t-shirt in question.
Rappeport proceeded to parrot O'Keefe's argument by noting, "Foreign donations are a sensitive subject for the Clintons, as their family foundation has been under scrutiny for accepting money from overseas." The Times has repeatedly misinformed its readers on the nature of donations to the Clinton Foundation. To reiterate, this is in reference to a $75 transaction over a t-shirt.
The paper even sought comment from the Federal Election Commission, reporting that "at least four commissioners would have to agree that there was a violation before any penalties could be imposed."
While the Times noted that reporters attending O'Keefe's presentation snickered at the obvious absurdity of the occasion, the Times report gave O'Keefe's deceptive claims an enormous and largely uncritical platform.
The first rule of the Georgetown/Manhattan media establishment, for the last 23 years, has been that each and every piece of information about the Clintons must be presented in the most negative light possible.
Yesterday, I ran across a piece by Ed Kilgore on the Washington Monthly site. Ed is very thoughtful and provocative, and he points out that the Hillary-hating commentariat has lumped Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush together upon this weekend's release of the Iowa poll:
It's natural every time a poll comes out showing either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush losing ground in the presidential contest people tend to lump them into the same category of front-runner-facing-existential-challenge-but-may-survive kind of hedge-betting. And that's particularly true when a big survey comes out that tests both fields in a key battleground, like this weekend's Iowa Poll.
What Ed is pointing to is further evidence of not only the depth of Hillary hating, but also the depth of the stupidity plaguing other members of our media corp.
We have been told that these polls are bad news for Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, and left with the distinct impression that their positions in their respective parties are the same.
But Ed points out that Clinton's favored by 37 percent of Iowa caucus goers, or 45 percent if Biden is not included -- and as far as I can determine he has not announced.
While Jeb is the favorite of only 6 percent of Republican caucus goers.
Then we go to the favorable/unfavorable Hillary is 77/19 among Iowa Democrats, that's a net +58. While Bush's ratio is 45/50, net -5. There is a wide gulf between +58 and -5. The point here is that you should be extremely skeptical of anything that you read or hear about Clinton vs. Bush in any major news outlet.
I also read Joe Nocera's piece in the New York Times about the rape crisis at Ken Starr's Baylor University. I remember when Ken Starr was the hero of chin scratchers and dinner-party goers in Georgetown. He was once referred to in the Washington Post as a "Washington insider" while they gushed about how he had many friends, while Bill Clinton caused "humiliation."
Now history's verdict has been written, and Bill Clinton has gone from having one of the most successful presidencies since WWII to being one of the three most popular men on planet Earth. Ken Starr, on the other hand, has seen his career go from cigarette lawyer to being "complicit," according to Nocera, in helping hush up Baylor rape accusations until now.
Heck of a job commentariat!
You can expect me to be posting a little more frequently. Contrary to what I hoped for at the beginning of this cycle, the Clinton haters in the press have exposed themselves again. We'll be adding a lot of light so you can see what's really going on.
I think at the bottom of all this has to be the simple recognition that in the case of Ken Starr the Clintons are sometimes just better people than the folks that hate them claim.
Jeb does not equal Hillary. Ken Starr does not equal Bill Clinton.
Rarely is the question asked, "Is our pundits learning?"
Get over it.
From the September 1 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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