Media's Double Standard On Transparency For Hillary Clinton

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.

Media Use NYT Report On Clinton's Use Of Personal Emails To Hold Clinton To A Higher Standard

NY Times: Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email As Secretary Of State. In a March 2 report, The New York Times highlighted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of personal email for official government business during her time at the department. [The New York Times, 3/2/15]

NY Times: Jeb Bush Took “A Very Different Approach” Than Clinton Because He Released Emails From His Time As Governor Of Florida. The New York Times went on to suggest that Clinton's use of personal email makes some question her transparency, comparing Clinton to Jeb Bush who “released a trove of emails” from his time as governor of Florida, without acknowledging that Bush also used personal email as governor:

The revelation about the private email account echoes longstanding criticisms directed at both the former secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for a lack of transparency and inclination toward secrecy.

And others who, like Mrs. Clinton, are eyeing a candidacy for the White House are stressing a very different approach. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, released a trove of emails in December from his eight years as governor of Florida. [The New York Times, 3/2/15]

Politico: Use Of Personal Email “Seems Certain To Generate Controversy” Ahead Of 2016, As Potential Rivals Like Jeb Bush Urge Clinton To Make Emails Public. Politico's report on Clinton's use of personal email amplified comments by Jeb Bush's spokeswoman calling for Clinton to make her emails public:

A potential rival of Clinton in the presidential campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), called on the former secretary of state to make the collection of emails public.

“Hillary Clinton should release her emails. Hopefully she hasn't already destroyed them,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said. “Governor Bush believes transparency is a critical part of public service and of governing.” [Politico, 3/2/15]

Wash. Post: Personal Email “Appears To Bolster Long-Standing Criticism” That Clinton Has Not Been Transparent. The Washington Post claimed that Clinton's use of personal email as Secretary of State bolstered claims that Clinton is not transparent, amplifying comments from Bush's spokeswoman calling on Clinton to release the emails in full:

It was not clear why Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, created the private account. But the practice appears to bolster long-standing criticism that Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have not been transparent.

“Hillary Clinton should release her e-mails,” said Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is also weighing a presidential bid. “Hopefully she hasn't already destroyed them.”

Campbell noted that Bush ­created a Web site, at ­, providing public access to his electronic communications while in office. “Governor Bush believes transparency is a critical part of public service and of governing,” she said in a statement. [The Washington Post3/3/15]

Bloomberg: Revelation Of Personal Email Use “Is An Opportunity For Bush ... To Contrast Himself With Clinton.” Bloomberg Politics reported that Jeb Bush's 2016 campaign team “pounced on the revelation that Hillary Clinton used only personal e-mail as secretary of state” and called the Times report “an opportunity” for Bush “to contrast himself with Clinton” ahead of a 2016 presidential race:

The revelation is an opportunity for Bush, a likely Republican presidential candidate, to contrast himself with Clinton, the presumed Democratic frontrunner, on the issue of transparency. Bush, a famously active e-mailer as governor of Florida, in December said he intended to release about 250,000 messages from his time as governor, to accompany an e-book. [Bloomberg Politics, 3/3/15]

CBS News: “Jeb Bush, Who Recently Released His Own Emails From His Time As Florida Governor,” Called On Clinton To Be Transparent. CBS News hyped Bush's call for Clinton to be transparent in its report on Clinton's use of personal emails, never acknowledging that Bush also used personal email as governor:

Jeb Bush, who recently released his own emails from his time as Florida governor and is mulling a run for the presidency, was quick to Tweet a response to Clinton's emails, calling for more of her emails: “Transparency matters. Unclassified @HillaryClinton emails should be released.” [CBS News, 3/3/15]

But Jeb Bush -- Who Is Attacking Clinton Over Use Of Private Email -- Also Used Private Email While In Public Office

Tampa Bay Times: Bush Exclusively Used Private Email Account As Governor Of Florida. In January, the Tampa Bay Times noted that as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush “conducted all his communication on his private account,” and has not released all of his emails to the public:

As Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau reported in January:

The former governor conducted all his communication on his private account and turned over the hand-selected batch to the state archives when he left office. Absent from the stash are emails the governor deemed not relevant to the public record: those relating to politics, fundraising and personal matters while he was governor.

Bush's use of a private account was known at the time and the news media/public was able to request records.

Current Gov. Rick Scott also used a private account to discuss private business, despite first saying he used one only for family issues. In November, Scott turned over 197 pages from his private Google mail account after he and his attorneys previously told the court the records did not exist. [Tampa Bay Times, 3/2/15]

Contrary To Scandal Mongering, Precedent Exists For Secretaries of State To Use of Non-Official Email Accounts

John Kerry Was Reportedly First Secretary Of State To Have A Government-Issued Email Account. The New York Times' Michael Schmidt, who wrote the Times' report on Clinton's use of personal email, appeared on the March 3 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe and stated that according to the State Department, “John Kerry is the first Secretary of State in the history of the United States to have a government email account.” [MSNBC, Morning Joe3/3/15]

Colin Powell: I Used Personal Email To Contact Staff, Ambassadors, Foreign Ministers. In his book It Worked For Me: In Life And Leadership, former Secretary of State Colin 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]