The media misses the story in pursuing right-wing conspiracy theory (cont.)

The Washington Post editorializes today that “the new information, provided by the conservative activist group Judicial Watch and Fox News, does not show or imply corruption stemming from the relationship between Ms. Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. In fact, emails to and from Clinton confidante Huma Abedin show that access-seekers associated with the foundation often were rebuffed.” But it is the “appearance of  conflict” that Clinton critics would assign to anything that the Clintons do (because the critics are partisan hacks) and the “impressions” that matter. Oh, I see.

This is an impossible standard that no one in public life can meet nor is held to, except perhaps the Clintons, because it is the cottage industry that built the conservative media entertainment complex, as I have previously explained.

The appropriate response to this nonsense comes from the Post’s Paul Waldman, who writes The latest Clinton email story just isn’t a scandal:

shiny_objects_shirtThere’s a new round of “revelations” concerning Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department today, and since it involves some people sending emails to other people, it gets wrapped up with that other story about Clinton. Are you ready for the shocking news, the scandalous details, the mind-blowing malfeasance? Well hold on to your hat, because here it is:

When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, many people wanted to speak with her.

Astonishing, I know.

Here’s the truth: every development in any story having to do with anything involving email and Hillary Clinton is going to get trumpeted on the front page as though it were scandalous, no matter what the substance of it actually is. I’ll discuss some reasons why in a moment, but we could have no better evidence than the treatment of this particular story.

Let’s briefly summarize what’s so earth-shaking that it gets front-page treatment on both the New York Times and the Washington Post today, not to mention untold hours of breathless cable news discussion. There are actually two stories in one.

The first is that a federal judge has ordered the State Department to speed up its review of approximately 15,000 previously undisclosed emails that the FBI retrieved off of Clinton’s server. We have no idea what’s in them. It could be something horrifying, or it could be utterly banal. My money’s on the latter, but it’ll be a while before we know.

The second story is that Judicial Watch, an organization that has been pursuing Clinton for many years, has released a trove of emails it obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, emails that supposedly show how donors to the Clinton Foundation got special access, and presumably special favors, from Clinton while she was at State.

The only problem is that the emails in question reveal nothing of the sort. What they actually reveal is that a few foundation donors wanted access, but didn’t actually get it.

Let’s look at that story. It mentions three specific requests sent to Clinton aide Huma Abedin by Doug Band, an executive at the Clinton Foundation, on behalf of people who had contributed to the Foundation:

  • A sports executive who had donated to the foundation wanted to arrange for a visa for a British soccer player to visit the United States; he was having trouble getting one because of a criminal conviction. Abedin said she’d look into it, but there’s no evidence she did anything and the player didn’t get his visa.
  • Bono, who had donated to the foundation, wanted to have some kind of arrangement whereby upcoming U2 concerts would be broadcast to the International Space Station. Abedin was puzzled by this request, and nothing was ever done about it.
  • The Crown Prince of Bahrain, who had donated to the foundation, wanted to meet with Clinton on a visit to Washington. Abedin responded to Band that the Bahrainis had already made that request through normal diplomatic channels. The two did end up meeting.

And that’s it. If there were anything more scandalous there, have no doubt that Judicial Watch would have brought it to reporters’ eager attention. So: Nobody got special favors and nobody got “access,” except for the second-highest-ranking official of an important U.S. ally in the Middle East (Bahrain is, among other things, the site of an American naval base that is home to the 5th Fleet and the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command). While Bahrain has donated money to the Clinton Foundation to fund a scholarship program that the Foundation administers, it’s safe to say that the Crown Prince meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State is not an unusual occurrence.

* * *

So why isn’t it on page A14 where it belongs? The most important reason is the oldest one: the “Clinton Rules,” which state that any allegation about Bill and/or Hillary Clinton, no matter how outlandish and no matter how thin the evidence for it, should be treated as serious and worthy of extended attention and unrestrained speculation. In 2016, that’s even more true for anything involving anybody’s emails.

And it means that the most common habits and occurrences will often be cast in sinister terms, even when there’s nothing out of the ordinary about them. Do powerful people, organizations, and countries donate money to the Clinton Foundation so they can rub shoulders with Bill Clinton? You bet they do. That’s the whole model: exploit Clinton’s celebrity to raise money which can then be used to make progress on important issues like climate change and global health. It’s also the model every celebrity uses when they try to raise money for their pet causes, whether it’s George Clooney or Peyton Manning or even Donald Trump.

Likewise, a healthy portion of Huma Abedin’s job as Clinton’s closest aide seems to have consisted of fielding requests from people who wanted to get her boss’s time and attention. That’s the way it is with many powerful people, in politics or any other realm. If we were able to see all the emails from the office of any senator, Democrat or Republican, we’d see the same thing: a steady stream of people asking, on their own behalf or someone else’s, for the senator’s time. Donors, businesspeople, advocates, constituents, they all want to talk to the person whose picture is on all the walls.

If we find cases where someone actually received some favor or consideration they didn’t deserve, then depending on the details it might actually be scandalous. But an email discussion of Bono’s wacky idea to send U2 concerts to the International Space Station is not a scandal.

There is actually a third story: how the supposed “mainstream” media works in concert with the scandal mongering fever swamps of the conservative media entertainment complex to promote their “scandal” du jour, casting aside their professionalism and journalistic ethics (an oxymoron today). It is the utter failure of the modern corporate media.

13 responses to “The media misses the story in pursuing right-wing conspiracy theory (cont.)

  1. captain*arizona

    monmouth poll in ohio shows trump in the lead so hillary supporters decides to re weight the poll giving hillary the lead so media will advertise it instead of spiking it!

  2. Did Clinton Foundation Donations Impact Clinton State Dept. Decisions?
    AUGUST 25, 2016

    New questions have arisen this week over Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. On Tuesday, the Associated Press published a new investigation revealing that while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, more than half of the private citizens she met with had donated to the Clinton Foundation. The AP investigation comes after a three-year battle to gain access to State Department calendars. The analysis shows that at least 85 of 154 people Hillary Clinton had scheduled phone or in-person meetings with were foundation donors. This does not include meetings Clinton held with U.S. or foreign government workers or representatives, only private citizens. We speak to David Sirota of the International Business Times and Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief of the Washington Monthly. He was President Bill Clinton’s chief speechwriter from 1998 to 2001.

    Read or watch video on Democracy Now

    http://www.democracynow.org/2016/8/25/weapons_pipelines_wall_st_did_clinton

    • Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?
      Glenn Greenwald
      Aug. 25 2016, 7:42 a.m.

      That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in its name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for president.

      The claim that this is all just about trying to help people in need should not even pass a laugh test, let alone rational scrutiny. To see how true that is, just look at who some of the biggest donors are. Although it did not give while she was secretary of state, the Saudi regime by itself has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded “by a Saudi Prince,” gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million. The Clinton Foundation says that between $1 million and $5 million was also donated by “the State of Qatar,” the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Brunei. “The State of Kuwait” has donated between $5 million and $10 million.

      https://theintercept.com/2016/08/25/why-did-the-saudi-regime-and-other-gulf-tyrannies-donate-millions-to-the-clinton-foundation/

    • Does anyone vaguely remember that moment during the primaries when we were almost talking about the people in this country and only because Bernie Sanders challenged the Democrats and forced them into the discussion?

      Well, back to reality. Heft that Clinton baggage. It’s going to be a long, long haul.

      • For Sure Not Tom

        Once Bernie was out of the way, after the convention, Clinton moved hard right. It wasn’t a pivot, it was like she was shot from a canon.

        Disillusioned Republicans are fundraising for her, a few hundred neocons have said they’re voting for her, after DWS was shamed out of the DNC Clinton put her on her team and then went to Florida to campaign for Corrupt Debbie. That’s corruption, no one seems to care.

        We’re already seeing signs of what Bernie supporters feared most, she’s going to fill the White House with Goldman Sachs folks. Bet me.

        I expect her to fight for some important women’s issues, and as someone with a wife, daughter, mother, and sister, I’m happy about that, but beyond that, she’s a Republican. She’s going to win because there aren’t enough white supremecists to elect Trump.

        • Yeah, Hillary is the best Republican candidate in many years. I can certainly see why the disillusioned Republicans, those who wouldn’t be caught dead at one of Trump’s Klan rallies, might find her to be a suitable candidate especially if the GOP is able to hold on to the House. Hell, as you say, the progressive Hillary who briefly emerged to silence Bernie’s supporters has vaporized.

          I think she might “fight” for some progressive issues but I fully expect anything of major significance will have the same outcome as universal healthcare. The Clintons stopped fighting and settled for a crime bill and welfare “reform”.

    • And for the Hillary supporters, those who said that Hillary was (and is) “the only candidate uniquely qualified to be the president”, there’s this:

  3. American Vendetta

    If you want to talk real scandle, lets start talking about big money’s legal bribing and buying of our represenatives, courts, and presidents. Nevermind….back to email requests.

  4. For Sure Not Tom

    I realize this is a minor point in the grand scheme of your overall post, Mr. Meanie, and at this point I care not at all about Clinton scandals, real or fabricated, but let’s keep our facts straight.

    The actual Bono email is being misreported. It says nothing about wanting to torture astronauts via nightly U2 concerts. It seems Bono wanted to showcase the ISS during U2 shows for their crowds.

    It’s the “International” Space Station. Astronauts from 18 countries have worked up there, most from countries that have been at war with each other at some point over the last century.

    Science is under attack these days, but our space program gives lots of people hope for the future. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope changed my views on religion and politics.

    Bono is a bit full of himself, but right now, while we’re torturing and killing each other, and fighting over who gets to use which bathroom, there’s a dude in Pasadena driving remote control cars around on other planets, so good for Bono wanting to remind us of how great we can be.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled Clinton bashing/defending/dead horse beating programming.

    • You know this ain’t a dead horse, Tom. Nothing less than Divine Intervention will change the trajectory of the next Clinton administration.

      Right now we are supposed to “unify” behind the LO2E and support this teflon coating of the Democratic establishment’s severely flawed candidate because Trump is a Racist Demon from Hell. We also should turn and look the other way rather than delve deeper into the DNC and their shenanigans.

      We can b!tch later when it won’t make any difference. Actually, that’s already true, it makes no difference. We are well on our way to being the peons in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s America.

  5. Rosa l. McCurdy

    About time more information is getting out that is not front page of National Inquirer Rag which Donald Trump publically admitted was his source of what is going on in the country. our Country is on the verge of a take over of all media by the extreme right. Remember Pravda during world WWII