I gotta say, the thing that annoys me most about contemporary journalism is when they write a pre-determined narrative and then bend the facts to fit. The other thing that annoys me is how much context was missing from the original story (like all the other cabinet members who did the exact same thing, and the fact that the law everyone quoted wasn’t passed until after Clinton left.) If you’re going to do an oppo dump, for Christ’s sake, do a little extra work. Because otherwise, you’re just a typist.
But remember, the NYTimes is the same paper who pushed Whitewater, a fraudulent story, and the Iraq terror stories by Judith Miller. I see no reason to think things have changed. Michael Tomasky:
The (NY Times) article says that there were “new” regulations that Clinton was supposed to abide by. It notes that one past secretary of state, Colin Powell, who served from 2001 to 2005, sometimes used his personal email account “before the new regulations went into effect.”
A key question would seem to be this: When did the new regulations go into effect? Oddly, the Times article doesn’t say. It doesn’t pin the new regs down to a specific date or even year.
Now, I know enough about reporting to know how this works. If you’ve got an airtight case, then you lay it all out there. You include the date. Indeed you emphasize the date, you put it high up in your story. The fact that it’s not in there is a little fishy.
Well, this might be the explanation: The new regs apparently weren’t fully implemented by State until a year and half after Clinton left State. Here’s the timeline: Clinton left the State Department on February 1, 2013. Back in 2011, President Obama had signed a memorandum directing the update of federal records management. But the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) didn’t issue the relevant guidance, declaring that email records of senior government officials are permanent federal records, until August 2013. Then, in September 2013, NARA issued guidance on personal email use. A senior State Department official emailed me to say that “in October 2014, a Department-wide notice was sent out which explained each employee’s responsibilities for records management. Consistent with 2013 NARA guidance, it included instructions that generally employees should not use personal email for the transaction of government business, but that in the very limited circumstances when it is necessary, all records must be forwarded to a government account or otherwise preserved in the Department’s electronic records systems.”
So if these new regulations went into effect after she left State, then what rule did she violate, exactly? And, if this is true, why did the Times not share this rather crucial piece of information with its readers? No one could possibly argue that this fact isn’t germane to the story. It’s absolutely central to it. Why would the Times leave it out?
The Times article says the “existence of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi.” This is incorrect. Gawker reported this first, in March 2013. At the time Clinton was Secretary, the Federal Records Act didn’t require federal employees to use government accounts, only to preserve records of their communications. This, Clinton seems to have done.
This seems like a good time to remember another pattern of behavior: namely, that of the Times. I remember clear as a bell reading that initial Jeff Gerth story on Whitewater back in March 1992. It seemed devastating. It took many millions of dollars and many years and many phony allegations before important parts of Gerth’s reporting were debunked. But they were. The Clintons did nothing wrong on Whitewater except to be naïve enough to let themselves by chiseled by Jim McDougal.
If they had done something wrong, with all the prosecutorial firepower thrown at them by a prosecutor (Ken Starr) who clearly hated them, don’t you think they’d have been indicted? Of course they would have been. But Starr couldn’t turn anything up on Whitewater and was about to close down his investigation empty-handed until he got wind of a gal named Monica.
So that’s a pattern too. The Times, for those with short memories, has never loved the Clintons. Remember Howell Raines and his ceaseless, thundering editorials against them. And today, it smells like the Times may have been rolled by the Republican staff of the Benghazi panel. And hey, great work by them and Chairman Trey Gowdy to use the nation’s leading liberal newspaper in this way.
The Times has some questions to answer: Did you know that the new regs went into effect after Clinton left office? And if you didn’t, why not? And if you did, why did you leave that fact out of the story? One can imagine Clinton coming up with decent answers to her questions, but it’s kind of hard to see how the Times can.