The media malpractice surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s emails continues apace, and is actually getting worse. The custom among “objective” media has been to bury the most important facts about the emails, the ones which determine whether Hillary Clinton committed a crime, somewhere in the last quarter of a story. Republicans and conservative media types then just leave it out entirely.
ABC News’ Good Morning America ran a package Saturday morning asking the onscreen question “Clinton Emails ‘Top Secret’: Will Revelation Hurt Her Campaign?”, and featuring ABC News Senior National Correspondent Cecilia Vega observing that “Two days before the (Iowa) caucuses here, these headlines could not have come at a worse time for her.”
As a look at Vega’s report demonstrates, that’s a lot like Kylo Ren observing that “this family reunion couldn’t come at a worse time for Han Solo.” The headline in question is only harmful because Vega and her network made it that way. I watched Vega’s report waiting for them to at least whisper the key fact, even as that graphic stayed on screen the whole time:
“The one thing they didn’t address, those e-mails. The State Department declaring 22 e-mails from Clinton’s private account ‘Top Secret.’ Clinton’s campaign calling for the e-mails to be made public, saying this appears to be overclassification run amok.”
That would have been a good time for Vega to mention that like every other email that has been released, none of those 22 were marked classified when they were sent or received. This is not secret information, it was announced Friday by the State Department:
I can confirm that as part of this monthly production of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, the State Department will be denying in full seven e-mail chains found in 22 documents representing 37 pages. The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information. These documents were not marked classified at the time that they were sent.”
When you point out this distinction to right-wingers, they pivot to a debate over whether this shows good “judgment,” but that’s not the case being made. Voters are supposed to be worried that if they nominate Hillary, she could wind up in the pokey before the convention. That’s why there has been a great efforts made to erase the distinction between whether something was “marked” classified or not, on the logic that most everything a secretary of state says is, by definition, sensitive enough to be classified. As Hillary has pointed out, though, a .gov account would have changed nothing about this, as it’s not a classified system. This entire story is just a Lazy Susan of rotating accusations and innuendos that amount to fifteen cents, not the dollar everyone’s been trying to make out of them.
The problem is, no one has an incentive to report this story accurately, because even if you don’t care who wins the Democratic nomination, putting the key facts up front, or in the story at all, ruins the story. They weren’t marked classified. That’s the point at which most people’s eyes glaze over as they wonder why they should care. It becomes an intersting-to-some, even legitimate converstion, but it ceases to be a huge news story, or even a mid-sized one.
I’m sure Vega is not the only one guilty of this, and she won’t be the last, but all we can do is name them when we see them.