The Wall Street Journal botched its latest attempt to scandalize the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails by tying political donations made by Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee to the wife of an FBI official. The FBI said it was not a conflict of interest because the FBI official wasn’t part of the investigation until after his wife’s run for office. Journalists took to Twitter to mock the Journal’s report, calling it “embarrassing.”
In an October 23 article titled “Clinton Ally Aided Campaign of FBI Official’s Wife,” the Journal reported, “The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.”
The piece went on to explain:
Campaign finance records show Mr. McAuliffe’s political-action committee donated $467,500 to the 2015 state Senate campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe, who is married to Andrew McCabe, now the deputy director of the FBI.
The Virginia Democratic Party, over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control, donated an additional $207,788 worth of support to Dr. McCabe’s campaign in the form of mailers, according to the records. That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him. The figure represents more than a third of all the campaign funds Dr. McCabe raised in the effort.
While the headline suggests scandal, the reporting in the piece fails to support any claim of impropriety. The article notes that McCabe’s involvement in the Clinton email case “wasn’t seen as a conflict or an ethics issue” by the FBI “because his wife’s campaign was over by then and Mr. McAuliffe wasn’t part of the email probe.” The piece also acknowledges an FBI statement that said McCabe “‘played no role, attended no events, and did not participate in fundraising or support of any kind’” for his wife’s campaign. Additionally, the article notes that according to the FBI statement, it was “‘months after the completion of her campaign’” that “‘then-Associate Deputy Director McCabe was promoted to Deputy, where, in that position, he assumed for the first time, an oversight role in the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails.’”
The piece was widely derided by journalists on Twitter for its flimsy claim and its attempt to implicate McAuliffe:
Headline seems huge, then it turns out the campaign was over when the husband got promoted to the job at issue. https://t.co/UWIQy2wORY
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 24, 2016
The charge is that the Democratic governor of Virginia tried to help a Democrat running for Virginia legislature? https://t.co/xRauHQANmf
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) October 24, 2016
It's really just embarrassing for the @WSJ that they put that McAuliffe story on the FP.
— Emily Cahn (@CahnEmily) October 24, 2016
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 24, 2016
It definitely Raises Questions, such as: When did the Clintons obtain a time machine? https://t.co/pZtaeWFa2Z
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) October 24, 2016
The Journal has a history of hyping non-stories about Clinton, particularly regarding the Clinton Foundation. This piece comes shortly after Politico’s Joe Pompeo reported that many in the Journal’s newsroom, which is owned by the Rupert Murdoch-chaired News Corp., are disappointed with the “‘galling,’” “‘absurd,’” and “‘flattering’” treatment the paper has given Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.