It’s sad when the
mainstream “lamestream” media regurgitates media memes generated in the conspiracy fever swamps of the conservative media entertainment complex with misleading headlines like these:
New York Times (online): New Clinton Emails Raise Shadow Over Her Campaign
If you read just the headline, like most Americans do (if they even bother to read a newspaper), you might be inclined to think that “This doesn’t sound good . . . You know, I think I heard something about this on FAUX News.”
But if you actually read the substance of the reporting on the e-mails selected by the reporters, you will come away wondering, “So what’s the big deal here?”
Nancy Le Tourneau at the Political Animal blog writes, Beyond the Headlines About Emails and the Clinton Foundation:
You’re going to see a lot of headlines like this today: Emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Dept. Sounds bad doesn’t it? Here are the details.
A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.
The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.
But wait…in the 5th paragraph of the story comes this:
The emails show that, in these and similar cases, the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting.
Way down in the story we are told that the “sports executive” got a “no” to his request for the British soccer player, no one had any idea what to do with Bono’s request, and yes, the crown prince of Bahrain got a meeting with Clinton – by going through “official channels.”
Going back to that headline, what we see is that – when it comes to “foundation donors” – 2 of them didn’t get access, but the crown prince of Bahrain did eventually get a meeting with the Secretary of State. That’s the big story? Really?!
Beyond that there seems to be some inference related to the fact that many of these requests went through Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. There are a couple of other stories about people who donated to both Democrats and the Clinton Foundation getting meetings with the Secretary of State via contacting Abedin – people who wanted to discuss their involvement in the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and refugee issues.
I suppose that if there was never a Clinton Foundation, we wouldn’t be subjected to stories about whether the Secretary of State held meetings with people involved in the work she was doing because of donations rather than simply because that was part of her job. So we can now say, “Damn the Clintons for trying to raise money to address global issues! It just messed everything up.” But knowing that a lot of people simply read headlines and run with them, perhaps we could also ask that the media not load them up with unjustified inferences. Nah, that one is probably a bridge too far.
Kevin Drum adds at Mother Jones, Hillary Clinton Ran a Very Tight Ship As Secretary of State:
The way Washington works—in fact, the way everything works—is that people socialize; they develop relationships; and they often try to leverage those relationships to call in favors. We have laws and institutions to try to put boundaries on this kind of thing, but it’s still ubiquitous. This is just the way homo sapiens is wired.
So now we have some more emails related to Hillary Clinton, and what have we learned? The crown prince of Bahrain wanted to meet with the Secretary of State, and in addition to making a request through normal channels he also talked to someone at the Clinton Foundation, who then called Huma Abedin. The meeting took place, which is entirely unexceptional since meeting with people like this is the Secretary of State’s job. There’s no indication that the extra push by the Foundation had any particular effect.
Another time, someone at the Foundation called Abedin to see if she could expedite a visa. She said this made her nervous, and the Foundation guy backed off.
On another occasion, a lobbyist who had formerly been a Democratic staffer asked for a meeting with her client, a coal company executive. Abedin blew her off.
We might yet find a smoking gun in all these emails. But so far, the trend is clear: lots of people talked to Huma Abedin to try to set up meetings with Hillary Clinton. Generally speaking, Abedin treated them politely but told them to get lost. That’s about it.
If some of these efforts had succeeded, that would hardly be noteworthy. It’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. What’s really noteworthy about the most recent email releases is that they demonstrate a surprisingly high level of integrity from Hillary Clinton’s shop at Foggy Bottom. Huma Abedin was tasked with running interference on favor seekers, and she seems to have done exactly that. There’s no evidence at all that being a donor to the Clinton Foundation helped anyone out.
So tell me again what the issue is here?
The Crooks & Liars blog adds some pertinent facts. Emails Prove No ‘Pay To Play’ Between State And Clinton Foundation:
It’s inaccurate to talk about the “Clinton emails” in relation to the latest fooflah related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure at State. The emails in question are actually those to and from Huma Abedin.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve read in CNN, the Washington Post, and ABC News, how recently published emails released by our friends, Judicial Watch, show that Clinton is in under fire because of “troubling” connections between State and the Clinton Foundation donors. In NBC News, I read how Trump has called for an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.
I have to wonder if any of the pundits and journalists actually read the emails. Because if they had, they would have noticed, as Kevin Drum has, that this whole thing really is absurd.
* * *
Not only was there absolutely no demonstration of “pay-to-play” in the Clinton Foundation communications with Abedin, the news media seems to have forgotten that the Clinton Foundation is a charitable organization. Among other things, it provides low-cost access to HIV drugs for over 8 million people a year. That’s in addition to the work it does creating schools, helping farmers, and its various clean energy and environmental efforts.
The media also has done a poor job of noting that none of the Clintons financially benefit from the Foundation (financial filing). Yes, Chelsea Clinton is on the board. But Chelsea has a salary of exactly $0.00. That’s $15 dollars less, an hour, than what the Democrats want to implement as a minimum wage.
[Bill and Hillary Clinton also do not receive any compensation. In fact, they donated $1 million to the Foundation.]
In addition, the media has a problem with math. Case in point, there is a handful of emails between the Clinton Foundation and Abedin. A handful of emails, in four years. There’s not a mathematician in the world who could deduce a pattern of behavior with that small a sampling.
But that doesn’t stop the media.
* * *
The [right-wing strike force] Judicial Watch, its 100+ FOIA lawsuits, and the helpful federal judges who seem to think that the State Department can magically create more FOIA workers, have the State Department’s FOIA processes so tied up, that none of us will be able to get any request through for the next four years.
This breaking of the State FOIA system suits Judicial Watch, just fine. It now controls what information is released from the State Department. Best of all, we get to pay millions for the privilege of losing our access.
I wonder why CNN, ABC, NBC, Washington Post and the rest don’t cover this as a story? Since they obviously have so much time on their hands.
Finally Digby writes at Salon, Judicial Watch vs. Hillary: The conservative group has a long history of spreading Clinton lies: Right-wing strike force Judicial Watch is not letting up on Hillary’s emails — the media shouldn’t enable them.
Back in the 1990s the political establishment made fun of Hillary Clinton for her comment that the press was missing the real story of “the vast right-wing conspiracy” that had been dogging her family throughout her husband’s presidency. Any mention of it provoked eye-rolls and knowing smirks among the cognoscenti, who were all absolutely sure that it was just more evidence of Clinton’s guilty conscience over something.
But she was right. And there was some real reporting on it even at the time although, as it was revealed, the Republicans would throw out another shiny object and the press pack would go running in the opposite direction like a herd of gazelles. So it was very difficult to get a handle on the whole story.
* * *
The book “The Hunting of the President” and the new e-book “The Hunting of Hillary,” both by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, finally put together the overall narrative of what happened.
The media is repeating its sins from the 1990s again. You really should read Digby’s entire post on Judicial Watch.