Media outlets are demanding that Hillary Clinton be subject to an independent review of her personal email account to disprove their own baseless suggestions that she engaged in illicit activity or failed to properly disclose all work-related correspondence. The demand ignores that every State Department employee, regardless of whether they use government or personal accounts, decides for themselves whether or not to preserve their emails.
By omitting important information and context from the Hillary Clinton email story, are reporters and pundits guilty of trying to make the episode more interesting and more nefarious than it actually is?
As the press demands answers regarding which private emails Clinton handed over to the State Department and which ones she withheld because she deemed them to be personal in nature, many journalists fail to include relevant information about prominent Republicans who have engaged in similar use of private email accounts while in office, specifically former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
By omitting references to Powell and Bush and how they handled private emails while in office, the press robs news consumers of key information. It's also material that deflates the overheated suspicions of a wide-ranging Clinton cover-up.
Appearing on ABCs This Week on Sunday, Powell was asked how he responded to the State Department request last year that all former secretaries hand over emails from their time in office. Powell confirmed that he had used private email while secretary but that he didn't hand over any emails to the State Department because his private emails were all gone.
"I don't have any to turn over," he explained. "I did not keep a cache of them. I did not print them off. I do not have thousands of pages somewhere in my personal files." Powell's revelation is important because it puts into perspective the email protocol of a former secretary of state. By his own account, Powell's emails, unlike Clinton's, include his regular communications with foreign dignitaries. What was he emailing them in the lead-up to the war in Iraq? We'll never know.
To date however, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have largely downplayed references to the fact that Powell's private, secretary of state emails are all gone.
Why is Powell relevant to Clinton? Because after she took questions from the reporters yesterday about the email saga, the press focused in on the fact in reviewing her private emails, Clinton found roughly 60,000 messages. She handed over 30,000 to the State Department and determined the other 30,000 were personal in nature and disgarded them.
Those 30,000 emails have now become the key storyline, which goes like this: How can people be assured that Clinton turned over all the pertinent emails when she was the one (or her attorney) who decided which ones were personal, and would be withheld, and which ones were government-related, and would be turned over. Doesn't there need to be an "independent arbiter" to look over all 60,000 emails to decide which ones the State Department gets to keep?
"They were personal and private about matters I believed were in the scope of my personal privacy," Clinton said. "They have nothing to do with work. I didn't see any reason to keep them." That's what the so-called scandal revolves around: Hillary's team decided which emails to turn over and which ones to toss. And that's a deeply troubling development. The press is insistent on that fact.
Multiple media outlets have been forced to walk back and update initial reports scandalizing Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account during her tenure as secretary of state, after The New York Times kicked off the pseudo-scandal in an article the paper later acknowledged was "not without fault."
Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush's sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.
The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications.
As the Washington Post reported, "Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations." But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.
The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday's Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC's This Week.)
By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the Press, Face The Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton's "email" or "emails" were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage.
Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of "analysis," most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons.
What has become clear over the last eight days however is that the Clinton email story isn't about lawbreaking. "Experts have said it doesn't appear Clinton violated federal laws," CNN conceded. "But that hasn't stemmed the issue that has become more about bad optics and politics than any actual wrongdoing." The National Law Journal agreed, noting that while the story has created a political furor, "any legal consequences are likely to prove negligible."
Still, the scandal machine churns on determined to the treat the story as a political blockbuster, even though early polling indicates the kerfuffle will not damage Clinton's standing.
Looking back, it's curious how the D.C. scandal machine could barely get out of first gear when the Bush email story broke in 2007. I'm not suggesting the press ignored the Rove email debacle, because the story was clearly covered at the time. But triggering a firestorm (a guttural roar) that raged for days and consumed the Beltway chattering class the way the D.C. media has become obsessed with the Clinton email story? Absolutely not. Not even close.
The New York Times kicked off a pseudo-scandal over Hillary Clinton's use of a non-government email while serving as secretary of state, a manufactured controversy straight out of the GOP's Benghazi witch hunt. While the Times dug in its heels despite significant shortcomings in its reporting, the media piled on with innuendo and reckless speculation that is now being cited by Republicans to justify superfluous Benghazi investigations.
Medios en inglés con interés en audiencias hispanas cubrieron recientemente las declaraciones del Senador de la Florida, Marco Rubio, en las que confirmaba su cambio de postura frente a la reforma migratoria que antes apoyaba, y que habría significado la estabilidad migratoria para millones de latinos. Sin embargo, los principales medios televisivos en español reaccionaron a las declaraciones de Rubio con silencio absoluto.
Rubio reafirmó su oposición a una reforma comprensiva de inmigración durante el segmento de preguntas y respuestas en su participación como ponente el 27 de febrero en la conferencia de la derecha conservadora CPAC (por sus siglas en inglés), en la que le dijo al presentador de Fox News Sean Hannity que "ha aprendido" desde la época en que apoyaba la reforma migratoria:
Traducido de sus declaraciones en CPAC:
Y sí, tenemos entre 10 y 12 millones de personas que han vivido aquí, algunos por más de una década, que no han roto ninguna ley migratoria, entiendo todo eso. Pero lo que he aprendido es que no se puede siquiera tener una conversación al respecto hasta que la gente crea y sepa - no solo crea, sepa - que la inmigración ilegal futura puede ser controlada.
Medios en inglés con interés en audiencias latinas cubrieron prontamente esta afirmación del cambio de postura de Rubio con respecto a la inmigración. Fusion calificó las declaraciones como de arrepentimiento, sugiriendo que el cambio tenía como meta ganarse el cariño de la base conservadora. De manera parecida, el Huffington Post consideró las declaraciones como un intento de Rubio por ganarse la simpatía de los conservadores.
Rubio, que ha dicho que quiere ser mucho más que la etiqueta del "candidato hispano", pertenecía al grupo bipartidista de ocho senadores que prepararon el proyecto de reforma migratoria que el Senado aprobó en junio de 2013, pero que la Cámara de Representantes, liderado por el partido Republicano, jamás llevó a votación. Rubio públicamente cambió su postura luego de que los medios conservadores y la derecha le hicieran fuerte oposición. El Nuevo Herald citó al director ejecutivo del grupo pro-inmigración America's Voice opinando al respecto del cambio de postura:
"Fue valiente. Hizo una labor brillante con el proyecto de ley del Senado. Entonces le dio miedo", dijo Frank Sharry, director ejecutivo de America's Voice (La Voz de EEUU), un grupo de activistas de inmigración. "Pasó de ser un ejemplo de coraje en el tema de la inmigración a un asqueroso político más". [El Nuevo Herald, 2/21/15]
Sin embargo, los principales medios de TV en español, que se refieren a Rubio como un candidato hispano, respondieron a sus declaraciones en CPAC con un silencio notable. La falta de estos medios al no resaltar lo que el Washington Post está llamando un énfasis por parte de Rubio para poner distancia entre él y la reforma migratoria que apoyó en el pasado, impacta negativamente la información política de sus audiencias - las mismas a las que Rubio apela con su fluidez en español - y que son, también, las que pueden ser directamente afectadas por la falta de acción legislativa en el tema migratorio.
Media Matters utilizó TVeyes para hacer una búsqueda entre los archivos de video con los términos "Rubio AND inmigración OR inmigracion OR frontera"entre el período de tiempo iniciado el27 de febrero hasta el presente.
Media outlets are holding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a higher standard by scandalizing her use of personal email while at the State Department, claiming the practice raises questions about her "transparency." In reality, other public officials -- including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R), who is attacking Clinton over the emails, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell -- have exclusively used personal email.
The publisher of a Bill O'Reilly book in which he falsely claims to have seen terrorists kill civilians with bombs in Northern Ireland are standing behind the Fox News host despite an admission by Fox News that he only saw photos of those events.
David Drake, senior vice president and deputy publisher at Crown Publishing Group, wrote in an email to Media Matters that "Crown will continue to publish our author's book just as he wrote it."
That book is Keep it Pithy: Useful Observations In A Tough World, O'Reilly's 2013 work published under Crown Archetype, a division of Random House.
In the book, O'Reilly writes, "I've seen soldiers gun down unarmed civilians in Latin America, Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs."
But last Friday, The Washington Post's Paul Farhi reported that Fox News admitted that O'Reilly was not an eyewitness to terrorist bombings in Northern Ireland, writing: "Asked about O'Reilly's statements Friday, a Fox News spokesman said that O'Reilly was not an eyewitness to any bombings or injuries in Northern Ireland. Instead, he was shown photos of bombings by Protestant police officers."
Drake declined to offer further comment on why the publisher would not seek to correct an obvious misleading statement.
The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler claimed that President Obama "appears to be purposely ignoring" the U.S. State Department's conclusions on whether most of the refined oil products from the Keystone XL pipeline would be exported. However, the State Department did not find that the majority of the refined oil products from Keystone XL would be consumed in the U.S., as Kessler suggested, and groups opposing Keystone XL note that the coastal refineries Keystone XL would service currently ship more than half of their refined oil products overseas.
Washington Post syndicated columnist George Will dedicated his most recent column to Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL), praising the governor's plans to go after public-sector unions, but got some basic facts wrong in the process.
Rauner has quickly become a favorite among right-wing media figures, both during his gubernatorial campaign and since his election in November. The Wall Street Journal and National Review have also lauded Rauner for his February 9 executive order blocking public-sector unions from collecting "fair share" fees from state employees they represent. Although state employees are not required to join, their union is nevertheless required to represent every state employee -- including nonmembers -- during contract negotiations. Without fair-share fees, nonmembers would get all the benefits of unionization without having to pay for it. Rauner's order would effectively institute "right-to-work" rules for state workers without the headache of getting approval from the Democratic majority in the state legislature first.
In his February 25 column, Will called Rauner's election "this century's most intriguing political experiment" and endorsed the governor's plan "to change Illinois's political culture of one-party rule by entrenched politicians subservient to public-sector unions." Will went on to support Rauner's executive order on union dues, but completely bungled basic facts about the order and the ongoing legal challenges surrounding it:
By executive order, Rauner has stopped the government from collecting "fair share" fees for unions from state employees who reject joining a union. This, he says, violates First Amendment principles by compelling people to subsidize speech with which they disagree. The unions might regret challenging this in federal court: If the case reaches the Supreme Court and it overturns the 1977 decision that upheld "fair shares," this would end the practice nationwide.
Rauner hopes to ban, as some states do, public employees unions from making political contributions, whereby they elect the employers with whom they negotiate their compensation. Rauner notes that an owner of a small firm that does business with Illinois's government is forbidden to make political contributions. Rauner also hopes to enable counties and local jurisdictions to adopt right-to-work laws, thereby attracting businesses that will locate only where there are such laws.
The Clinton Foundation returned to the headlines this week and once again the topic was promoted with lots of media hand-wringing. The problem is, it's not always clear journalists understand what the foundation does. At least it's not clear based on the media coverage.
The news this week came from a Wall Street Journal article reporting that once Hillary Clinton left her job as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation lifted its ban on donations from foreign governments. The ban was reportedly first put in place at the request of the Obama administration, which wanted to alleviate any possible conflicts of interest with its new secretary of state. When Clinton became a private citizen again in 2013, the foundation once again accepted money from foreign governments.
"A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation said the charity has a need to raise money for its many projects," the Journal reported.
The Journal article stressed that some ethics experts thought it was bad form for the foundation to accept foreign donations because Hillary Clinton is expected to run for president. The following day, Republican partisans piled on, insisting Hillary herself had accepted "truckloads of cash from other countries." (She had not; the foundation had.) The Beltway press largely echoed the Republican spin and lampooned the foundation's move.
Did the original Journal article raise an interesting question? It did. If and when Hillary formally announces her candidacy, will the foundation have to revisit its position on accepting foreign government donations? It likely will. But the only way the story really worked as advertised this week was to casually conflate the Clinton Foundation, a remarkably successful global charity organization, with Hillary's looming campaign coffers, and to suggest everyone who's giving to the foundation is really giving to her presidential campaign.
In order to make that allegation stick, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post simply suggested there's no difference between a global charity and "a PAC or campaign entity." (That kind of changes everything.)
The only way the story gained traction, and this has been true of Clinton foundation coverage for years, was for journalists to pretend the foundation isn't actually a ground-breaking charity, in order to make vague suggestions that it's one big Clinton slush fund where money gets "funneled." ("Money, Money, Money, Money, MONEY!" was the headline for Maureen Dowd's scathing New York Times attack column about the foundation in 2013.)
Media are recycling old news that The Clinton Foundation accepts foreign donations when neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton hold political office to fearmonger over "ethical concerns" surrounding the donations, ignoring the fact that it is not unusual for foundations to receive foreign donations and that Clinton's record as Secretary of State makes clear that she was not politically influenced by previous donations to the Foundation.
Washington Post's The Fix falsely referred to the Common Core State Standards as "federal" and "national," a scare tactic often used by right-wing media to smear the education standards.
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma House Education Committee voted to ban Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History, "persuaded by the argument that it only teaches students 'what is bad about America.'" According to Think Progress, the bill banning AP U.S. History "would also require schools to instruct students in a long list of 'foundational documents,' including the Ten Commandments, two sermons and three speeches by Ronald Reagan." As Tulsa World pointed out, the committee hearing also included discussion about the "legality" of teaching any AP courses in the state's public schools, largely from opponents of Common Core.
In a February 17 post at The Washington Post's The Fix blog, Hunter Schwarz wrote that Oklahoma lawmakers "are considering dumping the Advanced Placement program because of its similarities to Common Core," and falsely referred to the standards as both "federal" and "national" (emphasis added):
It's more controversial in a red state like Oklahoma that's more distrustful of federal standards being imposed; the poll found Republicans are more likely to view Common Core negatively than Democrats, 58 percent to 23 percent.
But there are some major differences between AP and Common Core. For one, schools aren't required to offer AP courses and students aren't required to take them to graduate. Even without banning the program statewide, AP can be a local community decision.
AP is also well-established. About one-third of public high school students in the class of 2013 took an AP exam, and the class of 2013 also scored a 3 or higher on more than a million tests -- a score typically accepted by colleges for credit, according to the College Board, which oversees the program. The University of Oklahoma accepts scores of 3 or higher in nearly 40 subject areas.
Although fighting against national education standards has become popular among some Republicans, equating Common Core to AP isn't a direct comparison, and it's likely to be a tougher slog because of it.
The myth that the Common Core State Standards are a federal initiative has been long debunked, despite its frequent use by conservative media to stoke fears about the standards. Voluntarily adopted in 2010 by 45 states and the District of Columbia, the Common Core is a set of standards in math and English that was developed by a bipartisan group of governors, state school chiefs, and teachers, among others. As the standards have taken hold in many states, some controversy has surrounded their rollout, with even Common Core supporters calling its implementation "botched."
The right-wing media outrage machine, however, has turned Common Core into something of a "rallying cry" over the past few years, thanks to the loud and often misinformed voices telling audiences to be angry or in some cases, to boycott the tests associated with the standards. The misguided notion that Common Core is a federal program comes as no surprise from conservative media voices, but is an unfortunate find in The Fix's education coverage.
Media outlets are reporting that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) will attempt to block the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as U.S. attorney general on the grounds that the president's "illegal executive amnesty for illegal immigrants would be implemented" by the nominee. However, in reports about the January 28 hearing in which Vitter explained his "huge concern" about the "unconstitutional" executive actions on immigration, both mainstream and right-wing media failed to note that the statutory provision the senator relied on was not only the wrong one, it was out-of-date.
Lynch, the federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York, has been widely praised across the political spectrum, and multiple conservatives -- including current Republican senators -- support her nomination. Her credentials are so strong, even right-wing media favorites called to her confirmation hearing by GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed she was unobjectionable. Nevertheless, from the moment President Obama nominated Lynch, conservative media have attempted to smear her -- attempts that have been riddled with spectacular mistakes.
Right-wing media are now hitching their opposition to Lynch to the positions of Vitter, who has repeatedly stated he will do his best to block the nominee's confirmation because she does not oppose the president's executive actions on immigration. On her radio show, Laura Ingraham hosted Vitter and agreed with his opposition to Lynch because of her support for "executive amnesty," repeating the debunked myth that Lynch believes there is a legal right for undocumented immigrants to work. Breitbart.com, which has struggled mightily to successfully criticize the nominee, also highlighted Vitter's obstructionist intentions toward Lynch, noting that "Lynch's outspoken support for President Obama's executive amnesty" was in part responsible for the current Republican delay on an up-or-down vote.
Mainstream outlets have reported on Vitter's antipathy toward Lynch as well, based on her support for the "reasonable[ness]" of the justification for the immigration actions. These reports have specifically noted that the senator laid out his case for the illegality of deferred action for certain undocumented immigrants at her recent hearing, where he accused the administration of flouting the law by assigning Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to the Department of Homeland Security. As Vitter said during the hearing, "I've read the plan, and the plan as I read it is for all of that to be done in the Department of Homeland Security. So my question would be, what is the statutory basis to allow that, when under the statute -- not some order, not some legal opinion -- the statute, the law, word by word it says the attorney general is in the middle of that decision[.]" The Washington Post, for example, included a photo of the oversized copy of 8 U.S. Code § 1182(d)(5) that Vitter displayed as he repeatedly questioned the nominee for agreeing with the White House's legal defense of the immigration actions. Vitter finally remarked, "Well, again, I'll have to be following up for the fourth time, but that'll be a central question. The plan is not for the attorney general to be in the middle of this at all. The statute says that 'the attorney general is.' Why aren't we following the statute?"
Unfortunately, both right-wing and mainstream media reporting on Vitter, the January 28 hearing, and his opposition to Lynch have failed to note that Vitter's questioning was referring to the wrong part of the law, which has since been superseded.
David Carr, the New York Times media critic, was a giant in our world of people who monitor, report on, and evaluate media.
Carr, 58, died suddenly last night after collapsing in the Times newsroom.
All of us who report on or monitor media have Carr to thank as one of those who broke ground on the beat, offering harsh, direct, and fair coverage.
David Carr was a king of the honest, in-depth report and not afraid to show it (many today are passing around his devastating 2010 report on the Tribune Company). But I also remember him as very calm, professional, and even low-key.
As a lover of the craft, Carr could heap praise on the Times' long-time rivals, writing in October of The Washington Post, "The once-embattled newspaper is in the middle of a great run, turning out the kind of reporting that journalists -- and readers -- live for."
Carr could also challenge his own employer when he thought it justified, stating just last December that the company was among the media giants facing tough times in 2015:
"At the Times, more than half the revenue now comes from consumers, not advertisers, and fully half of the digital consumers arrive via mobile devices. But just 10 percent of digital advertising derives from mobile, a disconnect that will create big problems if it lingers ... declines in print advertising and circulation have created holes in revenue that a recent round of buyouts and layoffs can't begin to fill."
He was one of the few on the media beat who was equally adept at judging the quality of news and programming, as well as the business side of the story - delivering in-depth reporting and crisp writing on them both.
Did he make mistakes? Sure. We all do. He even wrote a great book about his own battles with crack cocaine, The Night of the Gun, not fearing to expose his demons and troubles in a way that likely helped him get past it and offered hope to others.
I wasn't lucky enough to be one of the many who considered themselves Carr's friend. But whenever I was able to speak with him, either on or off record, he was always pleasant and educational. He treated me as much an equal as anyone in our business whether it was during my time at Editor & Publisher or my current work at Media Matters.
Whether we were chatting at an awards event or seeking comment from each other for a story -- more often me seeking his views -- Carr was a pro.
At a time when much of today's media criticism is based on a slanted effort to attack those with whom one disagrees, Carr was focused on the nuts and bolts of a profession that is paramount to our democracy. The real failing of today's media in many ways is the lack of resources as news outlets cut costs and seek to expand audiences through fear, anger, and misleading attacks rather than reporting, in-depth understanding, and honesty.
When too many on the right will assume a left-leaning bias in journalism and use that to allow their own right-leaning bias pass as objective news, the coverage of Carr's passing has included praise from both the right, Breitbart News, and the left, Huffington Post.
Once the shock over this terrible surprise wears off, the Times will have a tough time replacing Carr, if they ever can.