The New York Times is reporting that the latest emails released by a right-wing anti-Clinton organization “raise new questions” about “whether people tied to the Clinton Foundation received special access at” Hillary Clinton’s State Department. But the information revealed in the article completely debunks that interpretation of events, showing that the people seeking “special access” were actually involved in Bill Clinton’s successful 2009 mission to North Korea that resulted in the freeing of two captive U.S. reporters, and their request for a special passport was never granted.
The Times is credulously reporting on “510 pages of new State Department documents” released by Judicial Watch, a conservative activist group with a history of engaging in dishonest activism, promoting conspiracy theories, and pushing false or misleading narratives that have driven the media narrative on Hillary Clinton’s emails. According to the story’s headline, the “Emails Raise New Questions About Clinton Foundation Ties to State Dept.”
Here’s what the article actually shows:
Douglas J. Band, an adviser to Bill Clinton who also played a role with the Clinton Foundation, reached out to top State Department aide Huma Abedin on July 27, 2009, seeking diplomatic passports for himself and two other people.
The State Department did not issue the passports.
Band sought the passports because he was about to accompany Bill Clinton on a secret trip to North Korea which resulted in the successful release of two U.S. journalists.
At about the same time, Abedin told Hillary Clinton’s scheduler that Bill Clinton wanted her to meet with Andrew Liveris, the chief executive of Dow Chemical, at an event the next night. Judicial Watch suggested that this was because Dow Chemical was a major Clinton Foundation donor.
Liveris was the head of the US-China Business Council and was about to let Bill Clinton use his private plane for the secret trip to North Korea.
So, a top aide to Bill Clinton sought but did not receive diplomatic passports for aides accompanying Clinton on a trip to save American journalists from captivity in a brutal dictatorship, and a corporate executive who was providing the plane for the mission got a few minutes of facetime with the secretary of state.
As The Boston Globe’s Michael Cohen noted, “This is literally a story about how those at the Clinton Foundation DID NOT RECEIVE SPECIAL ACCESS.” It’s hard to see how this is a story about the Clinton Foundation at all. But to the Times, this raises “new questions.”
This is an excellent example of what Vox’s Matt Yglesias has termed the media’s tendency to depict Hillary Clinton as “a uniquely corrupt specimen” due to “editorial decisions by the managers of major news organizations to dedicate resources to running down every possible Clinton email lead” and presenting them as evidence of corruption regardless of context.
By contrast, The Washington Post also reported on the emails, but presented them as a case of clear overreach by Judicial Watch.
If the Times report raises any question, it is Cohen’s: “Is there some kind of a deal with Judicial Watch where respected news outlets must print their partisan spin in return for [Clinton Foundation] emails?”