In case you missed Saturday night's well-hidden Democratic presidential debate, the one piece of news that seems to have come out of it is that former Secretary of State Hillary Clintonpulled a Carly Fiorina, and claimed to have seen videos that didn't exist. Instead of seeing a fetus kicking it on a Planned Parenthood table, though, Hillary apparently claimed to have seen Donald Trump appearing in ISIS recruiting videos. This is huge, if true, because just like Fiorina's fetus fever-dream, ISIS recruiting videos of Donald Trump don't exist (although none of the fact-checkers have seen MSNBC's upcoming Trump documentary, so the jury's out).
That heinous lie by lying liar Hillary Clinton has been making the rounds all day, on all three cable news networks:
It's not just me, right? They all said that Hillary Clinton claimed there were ISIS recruiting videos featuring Donald Trump. Chris Cuomo is right, there really is no other way to translate it. Hell, even Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifactsays that this was Hillary's "contention," that ISIS is "using Trump for recruitment videos."
Case closed, pantsuit on fire. Hillary Clinton should definitely apologize, and maybe even drop out of the race. Before we listen to her concession speech, though, let's just play her big fat lying lie one more time, just for funsies. Here is Hillary Clinton claiming that ISIS is using Donald Trump in its recruiting videos:
"He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."
Wait, what? She never actually said that ISIS was producing recruitment videos featuring Donald Trump? Well, this is close enough, isn't it? I suppose she could have meant that existing videos of Trump insulting Muslims (which definitely exist) are being shown to people, perhaps on Twitter or something, to encourage people to join ISIS. It's not like there's any evidence at all that this is happening, she's still a liar. Right?
Well, that depends on whether a published report citing a recognized expert counts. Does that count? (emphasis mine):
The Republican presidential candidate's controversial proposal for barring all Muslims from entering the United States is being used by the head-chopping fanatics and other terrorist groups like al Qaeda to attract recruits by painting the land of the free as opposed to Islam, experts told NBC News on Tuesday.
"They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric," said Rita Katz with the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups.
"They follow everything Donald Trump says," she noted. "When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.'"
"Is being used by," says the report from NBC News, which is rich considering that MSNBC then had the balls to run an online poll asking if Hillary should apologize. What Hillary Clinton actually said was unambiguously true, unless we're also requiring candidates to verbally blockquote their sources.
That's why in order to find Hillary guilty of lying, Politifact (and everyone else) has to lie about what she said:
But while such quotes support the notion that ISIS could be making recruiting videos, or will do so, they do not support Clinton’s contention -- offered in the present tense -- that they are currently doing so.
Again, she didn't make that claim.
As far as the claim that she did make, I have never been a fan of this line of reasoning, that we shouldn't do "x" activity because it will help to recruit terrorists. If someone is going to be persuaded into chopping off heads and burning people alive in cages because Donald Trump said something shitty, they were probably never destined for the Peace Corps. Besides, it's not as if there's some sort of ombudsman in the ISIS editorial department holding everything up until they back up their propaganda with hard facts. Trump is bad because he alienates Muslim allies.
That would be a fair basis upon which to criticize Hillary's remarks, and for rival Republican campaigns that are adept at lying, you could even make the case that it's fair game for them to try and stretch Hillary's comments into something she didn't say, or at least that it's to be expected. It's an idiotic but true maxim in politics that if you're explaining, you're losing, so Hillary probably lost after the first paragraph I wrote here.
However, it is unacceptable for journalists to flat-out lie about what Hillary said, then declare her a liar on that basis. They all owe her an apology, especially Politifact.
Update: Slow clap for Yahoo! National Correspondent Hunter Walker, who nailed the second half of the equation, the ways in which what Hillary actually said was absolutely true (emphasis mine):
"The Clinton campaign has pointed to Rita Katz, who is literally the preeminent analyst in this sphere, and Katz has said, yeah, there's no video, there is no video, but ISIS is talking about Donald Trump and they're very happy about his arguments. The same way that Clinton feels like Trump can help her, ISIS feels like Trump can help them. If Rita Katz says it, this is a woman who gets every ISIS video first. She has a long record of knowing what they're saying when no one else does. That's a lot of evidence as far as I'm concerned."
Walker is citing the same Rita Walker who's in that NBC News report that's printed above. His fact-bomb didn't faze Lawrence O'Donnell and the rest of the panel, who continued to insist that Hillary claimed there were "recruiting videos," which is the only part Hunter missed. She never said that.
After some intense Twitter activity on this issue Monday night, Tuesday morning saw this adjustment from Maggie Hanerman, who acknowledges that Hillary didn't say what she's accused of saying, but then acts like it doesn't matter:
"This goes back to Saturday evening where Hillary Clinton, at the debate, talked about how Trump was the star of recruitment videos for ISIS. She didn't say exactly that, but that was the intention, or the impression everyone had."
Well, jeepers, if only there were some group of people whose job it was to make sure that people knew what Hillary Clinton said, exactly, and to correct those impressions. Maybe some sort of a report-person. They could even have some means of communicating these "report" thingies to lots of people at once. We should look into it.
Here's Nick Confessore:
And here's all of what Maggie Haberman said, since she thinks I left something important out:
On Tuesday morning, Clinton campaign comms director Jen Palmieri sent the following, via email:
The tweets were culled by SITE Intelligence. Below is sampling of tweets they found during a three day time period (Dec 9 - 12).
SITE Intelligence Group: "Following Donald Trump’s statement to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., jihadists on Twitter expressed a lack of surprise, characterizing his proposal as Western oppression against Muslims. The following statements were made from December 9-12, 2015.
·User “Ali Abdillahi,” an Islamic State (IS) supporter, was nonplussed by Trump’s statement, claiming most non-Muslims likely share the same sentiment:
o“Why are people shocked with trump he only said what most kufar [disbelievers] are afraid of saying.”
·A fighter for al-Nusra Front, “Abu Saeed Al-Halabi,” found Trump’s statement hypocritical and proposed a rhetorical “deal” with Trump in the context of U.S. foreign policy:
o“I agree with Trumps muslim remarks if the Americans stop invading muslim countries. We have a deal here Mr. Trump?”
·A pro-IS account under the name “Warrior” made a similar request of Trump. He argued if Muslims are banned in the U.S., they should be allowed to make travel to Muslim countries:
o“i wonder if president trump will allow muslims to leave the US for dalwah. he hates muslims so much, allow those that want to leave and live with other committed brothers and sisters without kuffar oppression. put your money where your mouth is Trump. more likely he will throw all muslims in US in prison as matter of "national security" #cowards”
·Furthermore, the account of “Amriki Mujaher,” who implies himself to be American turned IS fighter, seemed to make a similar message:
o“You can be a good Muslim in America if you join the army or if you interpret for the troops. Otherwise, Trump has a point about you"
·ISIS supporter, @bintemergent: pleez Massa Trump doan trow i inta dat briarpatch! #IS #refugee strat &GreyZone destructionhttp://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/15/terrorists-isis
cross-posted from Mediaite