WaPo: the media’s email reporting ‘is out of control’

According to the Washington Posts‘ Aaron Blake at The Fix, Hillary Clinton’s email server is why this race is still close:

Hillary-Clinton-textingThe email story is absolutely killing her — and ruining what might otherwise be a coronation.

A new CNN/ORC poll (.pdf) demonstrates it pretty clearly. While polls at the start of the 2016 race showed Americans were basically split about whether her use of a private email server gave them pause about voting for her, it’s now clear that it’s a significant hurdle for a strong majority of Americans in voting for Clinton.

The poll shows fully 62 percent of registered voters agreed with the statement that her use of the server is “an important indicator of her character and ability to serve as president.” That number has risen steadily this year, from 46 percent in March 2015, to 55 percent in October, to 58 percent in June 2016, and now to 62 percent today.

Just 36 percent say the email server is “not relevant to her character or her ability to serve as president.” That’s down from 52 percent at the start of the campaign 18 months ago.

* * *

At this point, it’s hard to point to basically any other major explanation for Clinton’s declining poll numbers and the tightening overall race. She’s run a largely quiet campaign until this past week and has been content to let Trump make the news. The one constant story about Clinton has been new revelations about her emails and the Clinton Foundation (which the new poll, by the way, shows 60 percent say should be shut down either now or if she becomes president). And if you look closely, perceptions about her email server track closely with her overall image and her perceived honesty and trustworthiness.

Democrats believe that the email issue is overblown by the media. The Washington Post editorial board agrees in a Friday editorial titled The Hillary Clinton email story is out of control:

JUDGING BY the amount of time NBC’s Matt Lauer spent pressing Hillary Clinton on her emails during Wednesday’s national security presidential forum, one would think that her homebrew server was one of the most important issues facing the country this election. It is not.

There are a thousand other substantive issues — from China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea to National Security Agency intelligence-gathering to military spending — that would have revealed more about what the candidates know and how they would govern. Instead, these did not even get mentioned in the first of 5½ precious prime-time hours the two candidates will share before Election Day, while emails took up a third of Ms. Clinton’s time.

Sadly, Mr. Lauer’s widely panned handling of the candidate forum was not an aberration.

* * *

Ms. Clinton’s emails have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have, and the criminal case against her was so thin that charging her would have been to treat her very differently. Ironically, even as the email issue consumed so much precious airtime, several pieces of news reported Wednesday should have taken some steam out of the story.

First is a memo FBI Director James B. Comey sent to his staff explaining that the decision not to recommend charging Ms. Clinton was “not a cliff-hanger” and that people “chest-beating” and second-guessing the FBI do not know what they are talking about. Anyone who claims that Ms. Clinton should be in prison accuses, without evidence, the FBI of corruption or flagrant incompetence.

Second is the emergence of an email exchange between Ms. Clinton and former secretary of state Colin Powell in which he explained that he used a private computer and bypassed State Department servers while he ran the agency, even when communicating with foreign leaders and top officials . . .

[Powell explained that he had used a dial-up connection (a personal AOL account) to send e-mails “so I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal e-mail accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels.” Colin Powell’s e-mail tips: Use private phone line, personal AOL account… and keep mouth shut.

As for the whereabouts of Powell’s own emails from his time at the State Department, “during his tenure, Powell had sent classified emails over his private AOL account – but as of July, had still not responded to a request to contact his service provider to retrieve them,” according to USA Today. “In both 2014 and 2015, the State Department asked Powell to provide all of his records that were not in the agency’s record-keeping system.” As Powell’s email to Clinton suggested, he no longer has the emails from his personal account; the records of those communications with national and international leaders during his tenure as secretary of state are gone. The Press’ Email Narrative Now Has A Colin Powell Problem.]

. . .  Mr. Powell attempted last month to distance himself from Ms. Clinton’s practices, which is one of the many factors that made the email story look worse. Now, it seems, Mr. Powell engaged in similar behavior.

Last is a finding that 30 Benghazi-related emails that were recovered during the FBI email investigation and recently attracted big headlines had nothing significant in them. Only one, in fact, was previously undisclosed, and it contained nothing but a compliment from a diplomat. But the damage of the “30 deleted Benghazi emails” story has already been done.

Ms. Clinton is hardly blameless. She treated the public’s interest in sound record-keeping cavalierly. A small amount of classified material also moved across her private server. But it was not obviously marked as such, and there is still no evidence that national security was harmed. Ms. Clinton has also admitted that using the personal server was a mistake. The story has vastly exceeded the boundaries of the facts.

Imagine how history would judge today’s Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of . . . a minor email scandal. There is no equivalence between Ms. Clinton’s wrongs and Mr. Trump’s manifest unfitness for office.

The Washington Post is hardly blameless in hyperventilating scandal mongering over emails. The existential threat to democracy represented by the crypto-fascist Donald Trump is at least sobering up the editors of the Post. We’ll see if that memo goes out to its reporters.

11 responses to “WaPo: the media’s email reporting ‘is out of control’

  1. captain*arizona

    everyone would have a job if minimum wage was 50 cent an hour. would you work for that.? if you were hungry enough or your kids.

  2. Senator John Kavanagh

    And the email scandal may just be heating up.

    • That would be nice if just once the Clintons couldn’t cover their asses on one of their misdeeds. But I fear they will whisper in a few ears and whatever is there will disappear again…

  3. captain*arizona

    azbm e-mails are the reason because they won’t ask voters about her iraq war vote for personel gain and phony apology. also media ttys to make her iraq war vote disappear down the memory black hole! trump will bring it up at the debate. and when the moderator ttys to run interference for hillary and bring up saying yeah I guess so in sept. 2002 he can say look at my jan 2003 comments on u.n. by that time I realized neo-cons were lying.. hillary didn’t care because she voted for iraq war for personal gain not conviction !

  4. john Huppenthal

    An all time record number of people are unemployed and you wonder why the election is close? A record number of people are in part time jobs and you wonder why the election is close?

    • “An all time record number of people are unemployed” — seriously, Dude? What fantasy world do you live in?

      Back in May, San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said “We’re basically at full employment,” and “That’s very good news.”http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/23/news/economy/us-full-employment-williams/:

      “He points to “good” growth of about 2% a year, and an unemployment rate that went from 10% at the worst of the Great Recession back down to just 5% now.

      America has been adding roughly 200,000 new jobs a month for about two years. It’s a rapid pace of job growth not seen since the boom days of the late 1990s. The hiring is so strong that even some people who had given up looking for work have jumpstarted their search again.

      So why are American voters so gloomy about the U.S. economy?

      1. “The fact that income inequality is rising is real,” he says.

      2. The other key issue is that middle class American salaries aren’t growing much. “Wages have been the puzzling part of the story. Wage growth has not picked up,” said Williams. Typically when the economy is at full employment, wages grow about 3% to 3.5% a year. Right now, wages are only growing 2.5%.

      3. Williams, but he acknowledges there are lingering problems. An alarming number of Americans also work part-time jobs but they want full-time work. Those part-time jobs typically come with lower wages and few, if any, benefits.”

      Maybe you should talk to the corporate Putocrats for whom you work, those greedy bastards are the problem and whom Americans are really angry at.

      • John Huppenthal

        If you are over 19 years or older and you don’t have a job – you are unemployed. I’m using the plain meaning of words. The need to cover up the poor performance of our economy has resulted in the creation artificial definitions separated from reality.

        We aren’t even in the same galaxy as full employment.

  5. captain*arizona

    wapo in the tank for hillary. the media doesn’t mention her iraq war vote for personel gain that disqualifies her from the presidency azbm won’t even try to defend it. in 2008 and again 2016 it was obama and sanders who brought her war vote up in debates and moderators had to run interference for her and move on to get away from her war vote. this also why attacks on jill steins character are counterproductive.

  6. You talk as if the e-mail scandal is the only reason people’s opinion of Hillary’s trustworthiness is declining. I would say the e-mails are just one more reason to question Hillary’s ethics and honesty. If it wasn’t for Trump being her opponent, I suspect she would poll even lower.