CNN Debunks The “Clear-Cut” Clinton Email Narrative

CNN reporting directly refuted the media narrative insinuating that Hillary Clinton violated a 2005 guideline on the use of non-government email and was being investigated by the State Department to determine whether she broke agency rules. The guidance in question reportedly has exemptions that could have allowed Clinton to use a personal email account during her tenure and the State Department was only reviewing which documents could be released to the public.

That narrative that emerged earlier in the day was rooted in rushed and sloppy reporting from The Washington Post and Politico.

“The State Department has had a policy in place since 2005 to warn officials against routine use of personal email accounts for government work,” Politico reported, “a regulation in force during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state that appears to be at odds with her reliance on a private email for agency business.” The Politico article, published the evening of March 5, was headlined, “Clinton private email violated 'clear-cut' State rules.”

But subsequent reporting from CNN debunks the rushed assertion that Clinton was in clear violation of the 2005 guidelines. Citing a State Department source, CNN reported that “Clinton was not automatically in violation of State Department policy when she exclusively used a private email during her four years as America's top diplomat.” CNN further reported that 2005 guidelines insisting that employees use government-provided email “were filled with exemptions that could allow Clinton to use a private account.”

Politico eventually updated its report with a statement from a State Department source that it was “inaccurate” to claim that “by using personal email [Clinton] is automatically” in violation of the guideline.

CNN also effectively debunked earlier rushed and sloppy reporting from the Washington Post. Earlier Friday, the Post was forced to “clarify” what it had initially claimed about the State Department's motivation behind reviewing Clinton's email. The initial write-up insinuated that the Department was reviewing Clinton's email to determine whether she “violated policies designed to protect sensitive information” through her use of a non-government email account. The updated language made clear that the motivation for reviewing Clinton's email was “to determine whether they can be released to the public,” but still claimed that the review “could reveal whether she violated security policies.”

But CNN reported that the State Department review was meant “to determine what can be released to the public, not whether she did anything wrong, according to a senior department official.”

It's a fitting end to the week, as the manufactured scandal has been marked by rushed reporting built around innuendo and reckless speculation from the outset, when The New York Times was forced to immediately issue a clarification to its first report on Clinton's use of a non-government email.