The media malpractice surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s emails continues apace, and is actually getting worse. The custom among “objective” media has been to bury the most important facts about the emails, the ones which determine whether Hillary Clinton committed a crime, somewhere in the last quarter of a story. Republicans and conservative media types then just leave it out entirely. This weekend, the “objective” media followed suit.
For example, ABC News’ Good Morning America ran a package Saturday morning asking the onscreen question “Clinton Emails ‘Top Secret’: Will Revelation Hurt Her Campaign?”, and featuring the observation that “Two days before the (Iowa) caucuses here, these headlines could not have come at a worse time for her.”
As a look at GMA‘s report demonstrates, that’s a lot like Kylo Ren observing that “this family reunion couldn’t come at a worse time for Han Solo.” The headline in question is only harmful because they made it that way. I watched the report waiting for them to at least whisper the key fact, even as that graphic stayed on screen the whole time:
“The one thing they didn’t address, those e-mails. The State Department declaring 22 e-mails from Clinton’s private account ‘Top Secret.’ Clinton’s campaign calling for the e-mails to be made public, saying this appears to be overclassification run amok.”
That would have been a good time to mention that like every other email that has been released, none of those 22 were marked classified when they were sent or received. On Sunday’s Today show, that key fact was also omitted in a report on the email story’s impact on the caucuses, although they did include a bite from Hillary Clinton defending herself:
That’s weird, I wonder why Hillary Clinton didn’t lead with the fact that those emails weren’t top secret when they were sent or received? Oh, wait, she did:
That bite led off Meet the Press, which means Today made a conscious decision not to use it while they were omitting that key fact, going instead with a quote that made it sound like Hillary was laying the blame for the “top secret” emails on other people.
This is not secret information, and it’s not a case of Hillary Clinton simply claiming the emails weren’t top secret when they were sent. The State Department announced it on Friday:
“I can confirm that as part of this monthly production of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, the State Department will be denying in full seven e-mail chains found in 22 documents representing 37 pages. The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information. These documents were not marked classified at the time that they were sent.”
Of course, it’s possible that including this fact is just too unwieldy and confusing and time-consuming to fit into a TV news report, right?
Well, two out of three ain’t bad, unless you’re influencing an election that will determine the next leader of the free world.
When you point out this distinction to right-wingers, they pivot to a debate over whether this shows good “judgment,” but that’s not the case being made. Voters are supposed to be worried that if they nominate Hillary, she could wind up in the pokey before the convention. That’s why there has been a great efforts made to erase the distinction between whether something was “marked” classified or not, on the logic that most everything a secretary of state says is, by definition, sensitive enough to be classified. As Hillary has pointed out, though, a .gov account would have changed nothing about this, as it’s not a classified system. This entire story is just a Lazy Susan of rotating accusations and innuendos that amount to fifteen cents, not the dollar everyone’s been trying to make out of them.
The problem is, no one has an incentive to report this story accurately, because even if you don’t care who wins the Democratic nomination, putting the key facts up front, or in the story at all, ruins the story. They weren’t marked classified. That’s the point at which most people’s eyes glaze over as they wonder why they should care. It becomes an interesting-to-some, even legitimate conversation, but it ceases to be a huge news story, or even a mid-sized one.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.