Chin-Scratchers Take A Breath

Hillary and Bill Clinton

James Carville is a guest contributor to Media Matters.

Having been on the front line fighting these battles for over 20 years, let me explain to you the basic rule the Washington Press Corps employs when it comes to covering Bill and Hillary Clinton. It is an ironclad rule that most any journalist covering the Clintons must follow: There shall be one standard for covering everyone else in public life, and another standard for the Clintons. Because, well.... because they are the Clintons. Henceforth this will be referred to as the Clinton Rule.

My point to you, dear reader, is that it is the Washington Press Corps' rule, and they're not going to change it, but we as progressives don't have to accept it. That is why I am proud to be posting on this site, because no one is more effective at combatting the Clinton Rule than David Brock and his organizations.

One thing I can promise you is that this is not the last made-up scandal.

The endless, breathless coverage of the Hillary Clinton “email scandal” is nothing more than another made-up scandal in a long, long line of made-up scandals. Over the past 20-plus years, I have seen Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Pardongate, and every piece of fake nonsense that the press and right can come up with. They all have one thing in common: take 'em all together, add 'em up, and multiply it by ten, and you come out with a pile of crap.

To the extent that you are interested, these are the facts:

There was nothing in the law that prohibited Secretary Clinton from using her personal email to conduct business as long as those emails were preserved, which they were. She preserved them and turned over all of them that had to do with State Department business -- 55,000 pages of them. But that's not enough for the right wing, who will continue to obsess over this issue until they find a new one.

Let's watch the Clinton Rule in effect: Colin Powell and Jeb Bush also used their personal email, but they are held to a different standard in the press. Colin Powell admitted on ABC's This Week on Sunday that not only did he also use his personal email while secretary of state, but that he didn't preserve them or turn any of them over to the State Department as requested. 

Everyone went wild when they heard that Secretary Clinton had her own email server, but for some reason they didn't seem to mind that Jeb Bush has his own server that hosts his personal email, and had the server housed in a state-owned office building when he was governor of Florida. The Washington Press Corps celebrated Bush's “transparency” for releasing 10 percent of his emails.

But one thing we know -- understand this -- this is not the last story, and there will be many more. I wish that I could tell you that this trite nonsense is going to go away, but it won't. Based on all my time in Washington watching the GOP scandal machine go, my guess is that this story came as a result of contact between the New York Times and Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is undoubtedly the most useless waste of congressional time in history.

I would remind you that this is the same tactic that Dick Cheney used in 2002 when the Bush administration spoon-fed stories to the New York Times about Iraq trying to get their hands on aluminum tubes to enrich uranium to build an atomic bomb. The same morning the story hit, Cheney went on Meet the Press and cited the Times to help pave the way for the Iraq War.

When it involves the Clintons, allow me to repeat the Clinton Rule:  There shall be one standard for covering everyone else in public life, and another standard for the Clintons.

The point is, there's just not a lot here. And the press knows it. You could almost touch the disappointment of the media yesterday when Secretary Clinton brought down the curtain on this charade.

The press is just feeding this 20-year old habit. They took the bait from the Benghazi committee and used it to launch a new, fake scandal about Hillary Clinton's emails. And once again, they've had to walk the story back

That's what happens when you have one standard for the Clintons, and a different one for everybody else, which is why I'll be writing regularly in this space.