Will The Hill report that RNC fundraising letter mischaracterized its article on Clinton eavesdropping allegations?
Research ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS
In a fundraising solicitation, Republican National Committee chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan cited a Hill article to claim: "If you needed further proof that Hillary Clinton will do anything to win, a Capitol Hill newspaper is now reporting that she eavesdropped on Bill's political opponents during his time as Governor of Arkansas." In fact, The Hill reported that "Republicans are focusing on an allegation in a recent book by two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, which suggests Clinton listened to a secretly recorded conversation between political opponents." The Hill did not "report that she eavesdropped," but merely reported that a "recent book" -- Her Way, by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. -- makes that allegation.
In an October 18 fundraising solicitation, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan cited an October 16 article in The Hill to claim: "If you needed further proof that Hillary Clinton will do anything to win, a Capitol Hill newspaper is now reporting that she eavesdropped on Bill's political opponents during his time as Governor of Arkansas." In fact, The Hill did not "now" report that Hillary Clinton "eavesdropped" on her husband's political opponents. Rather, in the Hill article, headlined "GOP targeting Clinton on phone-call snooping," Alexander Bolton reported that "Republicans are focusing on an allegation in a recent book by two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, which suggests Clinton listened to a secretly recorded conversation between political opponents." The allegation -- which was sourced to an "[a]uthor interview with former campaign aide present at the tape playing in 2006" -- was first made by co-authors Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. in their book Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown, & Co.), published in June. Contrary to the RNC's claim, the allegation was not made "now" and it was not made by The Hill, which simply reported that Her Way alleges this and did not provide any independent confirmation that the eavesdropping allegation is true. As Media Matters for America has noted, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said on October 16, "This story is categorically untrue."
Politico reporter Ben Smith noted the RNC fundraising solicitation in an October 18 blog post. Quoting the RNC's claim that "a Capitol Hill newspaper is now reporting that she [Hillary Clinton] eavesdropped on Bill's political opponents during his time as Governor of Arkansas," Smith wrote, "Well, not really." He also wrote, "The allegation was reported in passing, and without a named source, in Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta's recent Hillary bio. I'm not sure about other reporters; it caught my eye, and I tried and failed to confirm it with veterans of that campaign. Anyway, it's not really sourced in a way that it could stand on its own, and got scant coverage when the book came out this summer."
As Media Matters for America documented, on October 16, the RNC and state Republican organizations highlighted the Hill article, and the Arkansas Republican Party issued a press release that "called on State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to investigate the fact that New York Senator Hillary Clinton may have eavesdropped and recorded political opponents' telephone conversations while her husband was Governor of Arkansas."
As Media Matters noted, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (subscription required) on October 17 legal impediments to the Arkansas Republican Party's effort to have McDaniel investigate Clinton's purported eavesdropping. According to the Democrat-Gazette, "There were at least two problems with the complaint, however. The law that [Arkansas] GOP Chairman Dennis Milligan said that now-U.S. Sen. Clinton of New York may have violated [during her husband's 1992 presidential campaign] wasn't on the books until 1993. And the complaint was filed 14 years too late."
The entirety of the RNC fundraising solicitation:
From: "Robert M. (Mike) Duncan" firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 10/18/07 1:21 PM
Subject: Hillary Hypocrisy
If you needed further proof that Hillary Clinton will do anything to win, a Capitol Hill newspaper is now reporting that she eavesdropped on Bill's political opponents during his time as Governor of Arkansas.
What is most remarkable about this is that Hillary has spent this year fighting Republican efforts to give our intelligence services the ability to monitor terrorist calls coming into or out of the United States. In other words, the Clinton attack machine is apparently fine with listening in on phone calls if it bolsters her political ambitions -- but Hillary doesn't want to give America's intelligence agencies the ability to conduct surveillance on terrorists plotting to attack our nation.
Republican, we cannot allow Hillary's hypocrisy to stand. Please make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to the RNC today to help us spread the word about Hillary's double standard.
This isn't the first time we've seen Hillary practice such craven political opportunism. She's flip-flopped on virtually every issue having to do with the War on Terror. For example, after claiming that she would 'of course' provide funding for our troops, she turned around and voted against legislation providing them the resources they need to execute their mission in the most safe and effective way possible. She more than once said that she believed it would be a mistake to set a date certain for withdrawing our troops from Iraq, but then voted to establish a timetable for surrender from this vital front in the War on Terror.
America has already seen this program and they decided to change the channel. We cannot afford four more years of the Clintons!
Your secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 will help lay the foundation for electing a new Republican President and Congress and stopping the Clinton's [sic] drive for power. Thank you.
Robert M. "Mike" Duncan
Chairman, Republican National Committee
P.S. Republican, we know Hillary Clinton will do, say, and spend whatever it takes to get her and Bill back in the White House. The RNC needs your help to get this message out past the liberal media filter and directly to the voters. Please make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to help us with this important effort. Thank you.
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