Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Clinton Prime Directive

Matthew Yglesias has a thoughtful piece on Clinton Derangement Syndrome over the last 25 years, and where we are a week from the election.

The latest Hillary Clinton email revelations arose out of an unrelated investigation into Anthony Weiner’s sexting. 
The best way to understand this odd hopscotch is through the Prime Directive of Clinton investigations: We know the Clintons are guilty, the only question is what are they guilty of and when will we find the evidence
So somehow an investigation that once upon a time was about a terrorist attack on an American consulate becomes an inquiry into FOIA compliance which shifts into a question about handling of classified material. A probe of sexting by the husband of a woman who works for Clinton morphs into a quest for new emails, and if the emails turn out not to be new at all (which seems likely) it will morph into some new questions about Huma Abedin’s choice of which computers to use to check her email. 
Clinton has been very thoroughly investigated, and none of the earlier investigations came up with any crimes. So now the Prime Directive compels her adversaries to look under a new rock and likewise compels cable television and many major newspapers to treat the barest hint of the possibility of new evidence that might be damning as a major development. 
It’s the same drive that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial on the grounds that he had perjured himself to try to cover up an affair that was uncovered in an investigation that was originally supposed to be looking into a years-old Arkansas land deal on which the Clintons had lost money. The Whitewater investigation did not reveal any crimes. So rather than wrap things up and consider the Clintons exonerated, the investigators went looking under other rocks and came up with Monica Lewinsky. 
There are several rules that govern media coverage of the Clintons, but this year the Prime Directive has dominated them all. Network news has devoted more minutes of coverage to Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined even as email investigations have not uncovered any wrongdoing. It’s inexplicable news judgment, unless you simply assume there’s a crime out there.

And Yggy does a great job of nailing the how, who, what and where, but not so much the why.

In Prime Directive terms, the Weiner laptop is a major break. After all, the evidence of guilt must be out there somewhere. So why not Anthony Weiner’s laptop? 
It’s only when you step outside the circle of madness that you can see how ridiculous this is. If nobody had ever seen a Hillary Clinton email before, uncovering a trove of them on the laptop of the estranged husband of one of her key aides might be a big deal. But Hillary’s email has already been exhaustively investigated from multiple different angles and it shows no wrongdoing whatsoever. If you assume there is wrongdoing then, yes, maybe all evidence of the wrongdoing was suppressed from what was turned over and Weiner’s computer contains secret new damning emails. 
But what if all previous investigations have shown no wrongdoing because there was no wrongdoing? And what if the client-side copies of emails on Weiner’s computer are just client-side copies of emails, just like the emails in the inbox of everyone else who downloads email to a computer? What if Benghazi was just a tragedy and an example of how bad things happen in war zones? What if Whitewater was just a land deal on which some people lost money because real estate speculation is risky? What if Clinton has been getting away with it for all these years because she hasn’t done anything wrong?

The answer is actually pretty simple: it means that the last quarter-century of cable news's holy grail, the Story That Brings Down The Clintons, never existed.  It's Melville's tale of the white whale written across an entire industry, from Chris Matthews to Rush Limbaugh to Andrea Mitchell to Matt Drudge.  Being the ones to destroy the Clintons would instantly make you as mythical as Bob Woodward overnight, and everyone in the news industry since 1993 has been looking to nail Bill and Hillary on something.

Imagine that being your entire career goal and never finding it.  What reason did you go into the news business if you can't pin the story of the century on the Clintons?

They simply have to be guilty.  It's a madness that has infected the media and the country like a virus for more than two decades now.  And if they're not, what it means is that the Clintons have played the game better than anyone in Washington since the start and beat them all.

Including all the Village.

And that is the "why" to this story.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails