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NBC’s Chuck Todd and his guests on Meet the Press suggested that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign could end the media freakout over the FBI’s announcement that it has discovered emails on a device belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband that may or may not be significant in the bureau’s probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server by simply releasing Abedin’s emails themselves. This inane request ignores the fact that the computer is in the FBI’s custody, and not Abedin’s.
FBI Director James Comey released a letter to congressional leaders on October 28 stating, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” and “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” Comey noted that he was not sure how long the review will take and the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”
As The Washington Post explained on October 29, the emails were found on a device that belonged to Abedin’s estranged husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is the target of an investigation unrelated to Clinton’s emails. According to the Post, law enforcement officials “said it was possible the messages could be duplicates to others already recovered.”
On the October 30 edition of Meet the Press, Todd, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence all asked why the Clinton campaign couldn’t simply release the emails themselves, despite reporting that explained that the FBI seized the device in question.
During an interview with Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, Todd stated: “There’s an easy way for you guys to clear some of this up. Huma Abedin is a vice chair of the campaign. Does she have access to her emails now? ... Can you guys release all of Huma’s emails yourselves? Why wait for Comey to do it?”
Later in a panel discussion, Kudlow asked, “Why doesn’t Huma have a press conference, and say here are the emails?” While Todd expressed amusement at the idea of a campaign staffer holding a press conference, he didn’t question the idea of Huma releasing emails that are currently in FBI custody.
And during an interview earlier in the program, Pence asked, with no pushback from Todd, why doesn’t Clinton “ask her senior aide to release all these emails?”
Wash. Post, NY Times Also Give More Prominence To Weiner Saga In Print Than Abuse Allegations Against Trump Campaign CEO
Broadcast network news programs devoted significantly more time to lewd behavior from Anthony Weiner, the husband of an aide to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, than to allegations that Donald Trump's campaign CEO engaged in domestic violence and workplace sexual harassment. The outlets treated the Weiner story as a major campaign issue even though Weiner is playing no direct role in the Clinton campaign.
Politico reported on August 25 that Trump’s campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, “was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness following an incident with his then-wife in 1996.” The charges were later dropped, but the police report says that Bannon’s wife claimed that he “pulled at her neck and wrist during an altercation over their finances, and an officer reported witnessing red marks on her neck and wrist to bolster her account.” BuzzFeed on August 29 reported that Bannon had also been accused of sexual harassment by a co-worker while working as an investment banker in the 1990s.
On August 29, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, announced that she was separating from Weiner following reports that he had sent lewd photos of himself to another woman.
One might think media would focus more on the Bannon story, which involves allegations of criminality against the CEO of a presidential campaign, than on the dissolution of the marriage of a candidate's aide. That was not the case.
ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted more than half an hour of coverage to the Weiner-Abedin story -- roughly 10 minutes for each network -- according to a Media Matters review of their morning and evening news shows (NBC’s Today and Nightly News, ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, and CBS’ CBS This Morning and Evening News) on August 26, August 29, and the morning of August 30. Those same programs devoted only 39 seconds in total to covering either of the Bannon stories, with all of that coverage coming from Good Morning America.
Two of the nation’s leading newspapers for national political coverage, The New York Times and The Washington Post, similarly gave the Weiner-Abedin story more emphasis in their print editions. Both papers devoted 1,400-word front page articles to their separation. By contrast, the Times placed its August 26 story on Bannon’s alleged abuse on page 13, along with a portion of a page 10 August 27 piece and a single sentence of a page 1 August 27 piece. The Post devoted a large portion of a page A04 article on August 27 to the allegation. Neither paper covered the sexual harassment allegation in their respective print editions.
Not only was the amount of coverage uneven, but in its coverage the broadcast news shows repeatedly framed the Abedin-Weiner story as something that could harm Clinton’s campaign as well as recall for voters Clinton’s own marital problems, a frame that wasn’t applied to the Bannon story.
NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell on Today claimed “of course” there would be political fallout for Clinton, connecting the Abedin story to Clinton not having a press conference and suggesting that it would remind voters “about Hillary Clinton's own choices 20 years ago, 19 years ago,” an apparent reference to Clinton’s decision not to leave her husband after he had an affair.
CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell on Evening News said it was “about the last thing Hillary Clinton's campaign needed, a scandal involving the husband of her top aide Huma Abedin.” O’Donnell also asked CBS political director John Dickerson if the story “change[d]” things for Clinton and her campaign.
ABC correspondent Cecilia Vega on Good Morning America noted that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attempted to turn the separation “into a political attack,” adding that Trump “is not holding back, so is the Clinton campaign worried that this will be a distraction for them?” ABC political analyst Matthew Dowd also claimed the story “is a problem for the Hillary campaign” because “independents out there look at it and say, ‘Do we really want to go back to all this again?’”
The Times and the Post’s coverage made the same connection. The Times alleged the Weiner story “threatens to remind voters about the troubles in the Clintons’ own marriage over the decades” and “evokes the debates that erupted over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the [Monica] Lewinsky affair.” The Post also pointed to “a different ending to the parallel between Bill and Hillary Clinton and each wife’s public embarrassment by the sexual indiscretions of her politician husband.”
The only mention of either Bannon story on broadcast news shows was during Good Morning America’s August 26 edition, which treated Bannon’s alleged spousal abuse as a passing issue. ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl briefly stated that the domestic violence allegation could cause “more turmoil ahead for the Trump campaign CEO,” but he didn't mention any impact on the overall campaign or Trump specifically. ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos also briefly brought up the domestic violence allegations with Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to ask if Trump was “aware of [the allegation], is he OK with it,” to which Conway claimed ignorance and Stephanopoulos quickly moved on.
The coverage of Bannon’s alleged abuse in the Times and the Post, while given less prominence than its Weiner-Abedin coverage, did mention a potential negative impact to Trump’s campaign. The Times claimed that while Bannon’s appointment was “part of an effort to reset a candidacy that has stumbled with minority and female voters,” Bannon “brings to the post his own bumpy background that includes misdemeanor charges of domestic violence.” In an article the next day, the Times noted the abuse allegation has “created distractions for Mr. Trump’s campaign and raised questions about [Trump’s] management style.” The Post also made the same case in an article that same day. However, none of this coverage, in broadcast or print, noted that the Bannon allegations came on the heels of other women claiming Trump had sexually harassed them in the workplace.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump implied that Huma Abedin, an aide to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, is a security risk because of her mother’s current and her own former employment at an academic journal that writes about Muslims. Trump’s attack follows years of smears about Abedin from informal Trump adviser Roger Stone and right-wing media outlets, which said that Abedin is disloyal to the United States and that she is a secret “Muslim Brotherhood” agent.
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Former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is now advising Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, adding to the list of Trump influencers who have peddled the right-wing media conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is a “Muslim Brotherhood” operative. Bachmann, who formally requested a federal investigation into Abedin and others in the federal government, joins conspiracy theory-spouting Trump associates Stephen Bannon, Sean Hannity, and Roger Stone.
Stephen Bannon, newly appointed CEO of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, spent the last two months using his daily Breitbart News radio show to project an imaginary map of conspiracies that link the Muslim Brotherhood to Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Huma Abedin, and Obama White House officials.
Breitbart News executive and new chief executive of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign Stephen Bannon has a history of helping conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Roger Stone smear Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her Islamic faith.
The Wall Street Journal reported August 17 that Republican nominee Donald Trump hired Bannon to be chief executive of his campaign. Media called the hire “insanity” that made “official” Trump’s relationship to Breitbart News, which embraced “extremist fringe” and “racist ideas” under Bannon.
During the July 5 edition of SirusXM’s Breitbart News Daily Bannon invited Stone to discuss “more breaking news” about Abedin. Stone used the platform to push conspiracy theories about Abedin’s ties to terrorism and her Islamic faith, claiming that it “is a fact” that Abedin is involved with a group that funded the 9/11 attack:
STEPHEN BANNON (HOST): You’ve got more breaking news on Huma Abedin. By the way, Roger, I still can’t figure out how she got the security clearance. Can you help me out here?
ROGER STONE: It’s very, very hard to understand because of her ties to the Muslim World League, and the league’s ties to extremism and to terrorism, to an organization, a trust, which funded the actual attack on America on 9/11 are inexorable. This is a fact; this isn’t fiction.
Previously, in a June 15 interview on Bannon’s program, Stone claimed that Abedin “is most likely a Saudi spy.” Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News regularly provided Stone a platform to smear Abedin, despite the fact that other media personalities condemned his attacks on Abedin as a “McCarthy-Style witch hunt” and that GOP leaders defended Abedin against similar accusations in 2012.
Stone, a longtime friend and ally of Trump, has a history that includeds calling for the execution of public officials, giving racist commentary, making sexist remarks against media figures, and peddling conspiracy theories that suggest the JFK assassination and 9/11 terrorist attacks were carried out by United States leaders.
The original version of an Associated Press article misrepresented comments made by Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, misleadingly claiming Abedin told investigators that Clinton did not want her State Department emails accessible to “anybody” during her time as Secretary of State. The article was corrected to point out that Abedin was only referring to Clinton’s private emails.
The Associated Press reported on Huma Abedin’s deposition testimony transcript in a June 29 article on a conservative group’s ongoing civil lawsuit regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server. The article initially reported that Clinton “did not want the State Department emails that she sent and received on her private computer server to be accessible.”
However, the transcript from Huma Abedin’s deposition shows she repeatedly testified Clinton was concerned others would be able to access her “private personal emails,” not her State Department government emails. The original AP report did not acknowledge Abedin specified Clinton’s concerns were about non-government emails until its seventh paragraph.
The AP updated the article more than two hours after publication with a new opening that noted the distinction. The updated report’s opening paragraph clarified “Clinton did not want the private emails that she mixed in with State Department emails on her private computer server to be accessible.” The Associated Press did not issue a formal correction.
Other news sources made clear that Abedin’s testimony was in reference to Clinton’s concern about her personal emails, not her official government emails. Bloomberg noted that Abedin testified that Clinton was worried about others accessing her personal “non-government messages,” The Hill clarified that Abedin’s deposition pointed to “nonofficial email messages unrelated to [Clinton’s] duties on the job,” and CNN reported that Abedin “repeatedly said it was Clinton protecting her personal emails from being read -- and not about hiding government communications.”