Saturday, September 26, 2015

Last Call For The Ref Works Back

Washington Post political "journalist" Chris Cillizza sure as hell doesn't like getting called out by those grubby plebes at Media Matters, and tries to defend the four dozen plus articles he's written attacking Hillary Clinton for her e-mail "scandal".  Instead, all he does is peel back the curtain on the Village's long knives out for her, 2015 Edition.

I didn't check Media Matters's math, but I'm sure it's either right or close to right. I have written lots and lots of blog posts about Hillary Clinton's e-mail issues since the story came to light in March. And I stand by every one.

Here's why:

1. Hillary Clinton began this race as the biggest non-incumbent front-runner for a party's presidential nomination in the post-World War II era. The job she held just prior to running for president was as secretary of state. The best way to understand how she handles everything from the mundane day-to-day activities of governance to the crises that present themselves from time to time is by studying not just her public actions at the State Department but the thinking behind those decisions. Her e-mails provide a written record of how she thinks, who she relies on and how she navigates sticky situations. Her e-mails are essential to who she is. And, therefore, very much worth looking into -- and writing about.

So Cillizza is saying that her emails themselves are newsworthy, no matter what she actually said in them.  I don't recall Cillizza applying the same logic to Mitt Romney's emails from his time as Governor of Massachusetts, or to Barack Obama's emails as Senator from Illinois or John McCain's emails as Senator from Arizona.  What about the emails of Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham? Aren't those "essential to who they are" as candidates too?  What about Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, or Donald Trump?

Or does that only apply to Clinton in Cilizza's world?

2. No secretary of state has ever used a private e-mail server exclusively. For all of Clinton's insistence that this was standard operating procedure for government officials, it wasn't. Yes, lots and lots of government officials have used both a government e-mail address and a private e-mail address. None before Clinton had used only a private server. That makes what she did anomalous -- and worth paying attention to.

Again, the issue is "how much attention is that anomaly actually worth", especially since there are multiple candidates running with no government service whatsoever and who have used private email servers too.  That's anomalous but not illegal in any way. Singling out Clinton for this treatment is ridiculous, especially when you consistently imply wrongdoing.

3. The story about the e-mail server has changed. Repeatedly. When Clinton acknowledged the existence of the server back in March -- following a New York Times report revealing it -- she insisted that the private server need not be examined by a third party. She (finally) turned it over last month. She said that the handing over of the e-mails was a procedure that all former and current secretaries of state were undergoing at the same time. But, as reporting from The Post this week showed, the State Department specifically requested Clinton's e-mails after they realized she had used private e-mail exclusively. It wasn't until months later that requests for documents was made of other former secretaries of state. A story that keeps changing like that bears further analysis and investigation.

Again, the response to that is the same for point #2:  That's anomalous but not illegal in any way. Singling out Clinton for this treatment is ridiculous, especially when you consistently imply wrongdoing.  Enforcement of that is on the Obama administration and not Clinton.  It's not worth 50 articles attacking her for it.

4. I write a blog. I write a lot of posts. On Friday, for example, I wrote three blog posts and did a live online chat. This is not to brag (quantity doesn't always mean quality). It is to say that 50 posts that mention "Hillary Clinton" and "e-mails" between March and mid-September sound like a ton, but they're really not. I guarantee you that I have written more than 50 posts about Donald Trump in that time.
I understand that organizations like Media Matters exist to work the referees. And, I also understand that plenty of people who are sympathetic to Clinton -- and maybe even some who are not -- think the e-mail server is a non-issue. But, I would ask you to think of this: If this controversy -- with the exact same circumstances -- was centered on a former Republican secretary of state who was the frontrunner for the GOP's nod, would you still think it was unfair?

And here's the heart of the issue.  Cillizza complains that Media Matters is "working the refs" and that he is an impartial journalist, while admitting that he's a pundit that analyzes the news and gives his opinions on what is important enough to report.

You cannot have it both ways, Chris.  And you especially cannot claim impartiality after your years in your position at the Washington Post.

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