Clinton email coverage: Media as polarized as electorate
What you choose to believe about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state depends on your politics. And the same goes, it seems, for the nation’s media, especially those in the Beltway.
FBI Director James Comey delivered a definitive message that there was no evidence on which to charge Clinton with any crime for using a private server, even though he said she was “extremely careless.” Comey said Clinton had not done the kinds of things that had led people to be charged in the past. “We cannot find a case that would support bringing charges,” he said. Comey’s boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, offered the final word, saying the email investigation was now closed, with no charges.
So case closed? Not on your life.
If you’re a die-hard Clinton supporter carrying a #WomanCard and ready to say, “Hill, yeah!” then you believe she’s been cleared of any wrongdoing and you’re ready to “move on,” as Clinton herself said after Comey’s announcement. If you’re a Republican (and not necessarily even a Donald Trump supporter), you probably think that justice definitely was NOT served, and you want to use Comey’s words to wring every drop of political blood out of Clinton that you can.
By itself, Comey’s announcement was certainly a political act, delivering as much ammunition as he could to Republicans without recommending an indictment. Don’t forget that the last two secretaries of state under Bush, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, also used private email servers. They, too, received emails that were later classified as “secret” or “confidential,” according to a story in The New York Times, just as some of the emails sent to Clinton were. Were Powell and Rice “extremely careless”?
Comey is a Republican serving a Democratic president. He was appointed in the George W. Bush administration and donated money to Mitt Romney in 2012. He’s testifying before the House, even as he tries to be as careful as possible in his answers. Even while Republicans are doing their best to dig a little deeper against the presumptive Democratic nominee.
There has been an avalanche of bad, inaccurate, and overblown reporting about the Clinton email story. Both The New York Times and the Washington Post did all they could to keep the story on their front pages, even when there was no new information other than some Republican talking points, and their stories had to be corrected after publication.
Consider some of the recent headlines about Clinton and her emails:
Washington Post: Hillary Clinton’s email problems might be even worse than we thought.
CNN: Hillary Clinton email use slammed in State Dept. report.
WQAD-TV: From Benghazi to her emails, two of Clinton’s biggest scandals are back.
Remember, these are from outlets that Republicans usually call the “liberal” media (or “lamestream” media, if you’re a certain half-brain, half-term governor of Alaska).
Some in the media just can’t let the story go. Media Matters reported “50 Headlines That Reveal Wash. Post Reporter Chris Cillizza’s Obsession With The Clinton Email Story.”
Of course, some in the media saw the entire issue as a big nothing:
Slate: The Hillary Clinton Email Scandal Was Totally Overblown.
Political Wire: Will Republicans Overreach Again?
A term like “overreach” is putting it mildly. As many as five House committees are threatening to hold hearings on email-gate, hearings on a year-long investigation that’s just been declared closed by the Justice Dept. Hey, if Benghazi rated eight committees, why stop at five to investigate a practice done by several former secretaries of state? GOP Rep. Darrell Issa is threatening to shut down the government if Clinton is not eventually indicted. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who raved about Comey a month ago, now is demanding to know why Comey didn’t indict and is ready to lead his own probe.
The most likely scenario can be seen in a headline from CNN: How GOP hopes to keep Clinton email scandal alive.
In the meantime, the BBC asks, “Did the FBI just sink Clinton over emails?” Not likely.
Did Clinton make a mistake in using a private server? Yep. Did she give some conflicting accounts of how she used it? Yep. Will Republicans milk this until the election? Yep. Will it change any voters’ minds? Nope.
As a friend posted on Facebook: “Gee, I think I’ll change my vote from Clinton to Trump because of her emails.” Said no voter EVER.