Fox News' Bill Hemmer parroted an erroneous claim that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account is unprecedented, when, in fact, former Secretary of State Colin Powell also used a private email account to conduct government business during his time in the Bush administration and did not preserve those records.
Fox News Promotes False Claim Of Unprecedented Email Use By Clinton
Fox's Bill Hemmer Highlights Conservative Activist's Claim. On the June 29 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer read a quote from conservative activist and Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton claiming that Clinton's private email account was without precedent. He added, “You wonder if we will see this publicly.” From the segment:
HEMMER: You wonder if we will see this publicly, right? Tom Fitton with Judicial Watch, he's filed 20 requests for Freedom of Information Act, this is what he said: “There is nothing in the history of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or in the history of the Federal Records Act to compare with Mrs. Clinton's decision to use a secret account to conduct her government business, and have other agency officials use that as well. There was a whole cadre of State Department officials who went dark and were conducting government business in such a way that made it immune to scrutiny.” Will he ever win in his pursuit?
[Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/29/15]
Wash. Post's Thiessen: “This Is Just Unprecedented In Our History.” During the segment, Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen, a former Bush administration official, said, “We've never had a secretary of state who kept her own server in the basement of her house and then unilaterally decided whether to wipe it clean or not. I mean, this is just unprecedented in our history. But what we're learning here is the rules that apply to the rest of the world do not apply in 'Clinton World.' The lines between official and unofficial are blurred, the lines between legal and illegal are blurred.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/29/15]
But Former Secretary Of State Colin Powell Used A Private Account Without Saving Government-Related Emails
Colin Powell: I Used Private Email To Contact Staff, Ambassadors, Foreign Ministers. In his book, It Worked For Me: In Life And Leadership, Powell wrote that during his tenure at the State Department during the Bush administration, he used a personal email account and a private laptop computer to contact staff, ambassadors, and foreign ministers. From his book:
To complement the official State Department computer in my office, I installed a laptop computer on a private line. My personal email account on the laptop allowed me direct access to anyone online. I started shooting emails to my principal assistants, to individual ambassadors, and increasingly to my foreign-minister colleagues who like me were trying to bring their ministries into the 186,000-miles-per-second world. [Colin Powell, It Worked For Me: In Life And Leadership, page 151]
Politico: Former Secretary Of State Colin Powell Did Not Save Private Emails Sent During His Tenure. Politico reported that Powell “did not keep a cache of” those emails:
Appearing on ABC's “This Week” Sunday, Powell responded to revelations that he used a personal email account, rather than a government one, when he was in charge of the State Department. Questions about his email use arose last week when it was disclosed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a personal email account during her tenure.
“I don't have any to turn over. 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 said. “A lot of the emails that came out of my personal account went into the State Department system. They were addressed to State Department employees and state.gov domain, but I don't know if the servers in the State Department captured those or not. [Politico, 3/8/15]