How the media manufactures the ‘scandal’ du jour

The latest media manufactured “scandal” du jour originated with this ABC 15 report from Christopher Sign. Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton meet privately in Phoenix:

BillClintonAmid an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of email and hours before the public release of the Benghazi report, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President Bill Clinton.

The private meeting took place on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport on board a parked private plane.

Former President Clinton was visiting the Phoenix area and arrived to Sky Harbor Monday evening to depart.

Sources tell ABC15 Clinton was notified Lynch would be arriving at the airport soon and waited for her arrival.

Lynch was arriving in Phoenix for a planned visit as part of her national tour to promote community policing.

ABC15 asked Lynch about the meeting during her news conference at the Phoenix Police Department.

“I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” said Lynch.

The private meeting comes as Lynch’s office is in charge of the ongoing investigation and potential charges involving Clinton’s email server.

The private meeting also occurred hours before the Benghazi report was released publicly involving Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s administration.

Lynch said the private meeting on the tarmac did not involve these topics.

“Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix,” said Lynch Tuesday afternoon while speaking at the Phoenix Police Department.

Sources say the private meeting at the airport lasted around 30 minutes.

“There was no discussion on any matter pending before the Department or any matter pending with any other body, there was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of State Department emails, by way of example I would say it was current news of the day, the Brexit decision and what it would mean,” she said.

So nothing untoward happened. Just friendly chit-chat between friends. (Unless you want to believe the worst about people based upon your own bias and prejudices).

Cue the media scandal manufacturing machine that engaged in The Hunting of the President for 10 years during the Clinton presidency.

GOP politicians and the conservative media entertainment complex immediately began screaming “scandal!” (just like the good old days of the 90’s). The “lamestream media,” which takes its cues from the latest GOP outrage of the day, followed suit. Even Democrats who have had their souls crushed by decades of this GOP scandal mongering cowered and suggested it might have been “inappropriate.”

So we get treated to this kind of yellow journalism (“journalism” that exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers) from The Arizona Republican today. Columnist Laurie Roberts uses insinuation, innuendo and the power of suggestion — but not any evidence or facts — to suggest a “scandal” colored by the decades-old GOP narrative of “Clinton scandals” that were not actually scandals during the Whitewater controversy of the Clinton presidency.

Roberts scandal mongers with Lynch-Clinton tarmac tete-a-tete: What. The. Heck.

How utterly convenient that Bill Clinton happened to be at Sky Harbor on Monday night just as Attorney General Loretta Lynch was preparing to arrive in Phoenix.

So naturally, Clinton delayed his flight out of here and waited for Lynch’s plane to land then somehow talked himself aboard to meet with the nation’s top law enforcement official – the woman whose agency is investigating whether Hillary Clinton should face criminal charges.

You know how grandfathers are, when they have new pictures of the grandkids to show off.

What. The. Heck.

Lynch told reporters that the subject of his wife’s emails never came up.

“Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren,” she said. “It was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix.”

Primarily.

Clinton, curiously, is nowhere to be found to ask about his reasons for finagling a private meeting with the prosecutor whose agency is investigating his wife. Or what he was doing in Phoenix, other than waiting to meet with Lynch.

A meeting the public likely never would have known about but for the work of ABC15’s Christopher Sign, who broke the story. Sign, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, said his sources told him the FBI was on the tarmac, telling bystanders “no photos, no pictures, no cell phones.”

In other words, no evidence that this meeting ever occurred.

Still, I believe Lynch when she says the conversation never turned to the elephant in the fuselage: whether Hillary Clinton will face criminal charges, crushing the power couple’s dreams of moving back into the White House.

But does it really matter? Clinton’s bold maneuver has put Loretta Lynch in a tight spot. She got played.

She’s clearly cozy with the Clintons. Her boss has endorsed Hillary Clinton.

And she’s the person overseeing the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email account and private server while secretary of state?

Lynch on Friday acknowledged that her 30-minute tête-à-tête on the tarmac was a problem.

“It has now cast a shadow over how this investigation may be perceived,” she said.

It’s astonishing that didn’t occur to her the minute Clinton darkened the doorway of her plane.

Still, she doesn’t plan to recuse herself. Instead, she says she’ll accept whatever recommendation the FBI makes on whether to bring charges against the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Put another way, she’ll accept whatever recommendation the FBI makes to the boss, who is so tight with the Clintons that he can just stroll onto her plane to talk about the grandkids.

Or maybe to send her a message?

And the Clintons wonder why trust is an issue…

This is the kind of writing that Maureen Dowd of the New York Times built her career on during The Hunting of the President. Roberts is just a weak imitation of MoDo. (Even The Arizona Republican’s cartoonist, Steve Benson, gets in on the insinuation and suggestion of scandal without any evidence or facts. Note the allusion to the Monica Lewinsky affair. Stay classy.)

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In a March 10, 2015 Newsweek opinion piece, senior writer and former New York Times columnist Kurt Eichenwald lambasted the New York Times‘ “weak standards employed to manufacture the scandal du jour” over Hillary Clinton’s private emails, noting that Clinton did not violate any regulations because the Federal Records Act rules changed after Clinton left office. Why Hillary Clinton’s “Emailgate” Is a Fake Scandal – Newsweek. Eichenwald more recently wrote, The Scandal Over Clinton’s Emails Still Isn’t a Scandal – Newsweek.

According to Eichenwald, the real scandal is the low standards of what passes for journalism today. Perhaps this is why Trust in The Media is at Six Percent – Accuracy In Media.

I have to agree with Steve Benen — this is a media manufactured scandal that is not an actual scandal. Clinton, Lynch, and a ‘scandal’ that doesn’t exist:

When news reports surfaced yesterday about a private meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, Republican outrage went from 0 to Hair-On-Fire with remarkable efficiency. It wasn’t long before Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) actually called for an independent prosecutor to investigate the “controversy.”

Given the apoplexy, one might have assumed that Lynch and Clinton arranged some kind of secret meeting in an undisclosed location to plot some nefarious scheme. The truth – the two crossed paths at an airport – appears to be far less interesting.

Ms. Lynch said at a press conference that the Clinton meeting was unplanned. Mr. Clinton was apparently waiting to fly out of the Phoenix airport when Ms. Lynch’s plane coincidentally landed there. The former president then walked over to the attorney general’s plane to speak to Ms. Lynch and her husband.

“Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels,” Ms. Lynch told reporters in Phoenix on Tuesday.

I realize there’s nothing the political world loves more than a Clinton “scandal,” but as an objective matter, it’s tough to get worked up about a casual chat at an airport between a president and an A.G. If your first reaction to Bill Clinton talking about his grandchildren is, “I hear Ken Starr is unemployed, so let’s give him something to do!” you might be a little too eager to exaggerate the significance of harmless social interaction.

The trouble is, the political world remains deeply invested in the idea that Hillary Clinton’s cabinet-level email server management is one of the most important issues in the country right now. Folks hear about Bill Clinton saying hello to Loretta Lynch, and their first reaction is to assume that this was an effort to prevent an indictment.

But that’s silly. For one thing, an indictment is ridiculously unlikely. For another, if Bill Clinton intended to launch some kind of back-channel pressure campaign to interfere with an investigation, he’d probably take steps less overt than a public chat at an airport.

The obvious explanation may sound naive, but it’s also the easiest to believe: the former president wanted to say hello to a prominent official he knows so he could talk about his grandkids. He wasn’t considering “media optics,” because as far as Clinton is concerned, there was no reason to care – why would anyone make a fuss about something so innocuous?

Nevertheless, the Attorney General will reportedly announce today that she will remove herself from any decision making role in the email matter, and will “accept whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make.”

And with Benghazi conspiracy theories having been discredited again this week, the far-right suddenly has something new to obsess over for a while.

The media is once again falling back on its old ways of yellow journalism scandal mongering from the Whitewater era, and is once again engaging in  The Hunting of the President. They should be ashamed, but they are shameless.

11 responses to “How the media manufactures the ‘scandal’ du jour

  1. Sen. John Kavanagh

    As far as I’m concerned, anything that causes Laurie Roberts to remove her incisors from Republican flesh must be big.

  2. Sorry, dear colleague, but this was not manufactured.

    This was Bill Clinton’s hubris at work. It only was an accident that anyone found out about it. The expectation on the part of both Clinton and Lynch was the the meeting would go unreported. That should tell you something. And Laurie Roberts is a fairly level-headed reporter. She’s not another Maureen Dowd. But here’s the thing about Laurie: She goes after both sides. You know what that gives her? Credibility.

  3. captain*arizona

    you know this meeting was wrong. don’t excuse it. an error was made we have to deal with it and move forward other wise voters will say democrats are slimy too!

    • Captain, they won’t acknowledge the meeting was underhanded and stinks of back room politics precisely because Democrats ARE slimy.

  4. American Vendetta

    This would be poor form if there really was a scandal…which there is not. The Email investigation is a friggin joke and will end up like Bengazi. Once you look at the evidence you can see this. Compared to other actions of politicians it is pale to the extreme.

    And for you conservatives with all of your share of unethical garbage: Any outrage over the dozens of shadey deals and unethical behavior from your candidate? Nah, it seems to be different with him. He is an outsider so it’s okay. Get friggin real people.

  5. DeeAnn Lett-Neal

    Excuse me! Much ado over nothing. I am so tired of the hate mongering and the assumptions. Liberal media is a myth. Liberal media would be presenting unbiased and unpartisan news. Conservative media is yellow journalism at its worst and that’s why i get my news from BBC and outside resources. I am tired of the bias and hate from every channel I turn on from here. Gotta have dirty laundry in order to obtain viewers who further contort any actual fact.

    • You should go back and read what you wrote. What you said was if they agree with me, the reporting reporting is factual, pure and unsullied. If they don’t agree with me, the reporting is biased, tainted and untrustworthy. Is that really what you intended to say?

  6. If the situation were reversed and it involved Republicans meeting like that, you would be screaming to high heaven about “undue influence”, “back room deals”, “justice denied”, et al. You are a partisan hack, but I don’t think you are honest enough to acknowledge it. You have two sets of standards: extremely high standards for Republicans and extremely low standards for Democrats. Such hypocrisy takes away a lot from what you have to say…

  7. Sanda Schuldmann

    Excuse me? Manufactured? NO~ This is an outrage!