Notwithstanding feverish media squeals about Hillary Clinton’s “private” email usage as Secretary of State, the fact is she adhered to the laws in place during her 4 years in that position. The law insisting solely upon .gov email usage for government employees was not passed until nearly two years after Clinton left office, as Clinton made clear in today’s press conference. Click-hungry pundits and agenda driven Republicans’ “fear” of Clinton’s “secrecy” in working from her personal email account ignores the fact that any government business would typically have been sent to or received from employees on a .gov server, so that a permanent record existed of her communications. Which doesn’t mean the lady is going to get a break – or any respect.
In today’s presser, before allowing reporters’ attempts to chew her flesh, Clinton made sure to speak of the progress and unfinished journey of women worldwide in the 20 years since her groundbreaking speech in Beijing. She smartly tore into the 47 Republican Senators who may have violated the Logan Act by sending an open letter to Iran stating that any agreement reached with Obama “would not be bound by the Constitution” – while the President is in the midst of nuclear talks with them. Even the NY Daily News called them “Traitors.” But let’s focus on the emails of someone who by all evidence has served this country faithfully.
Republicans like Governors Scott Walker and Jeb Bush have far bigger email problems than Clinton. Yet these guys are not being made to answer for themselves. Which begs the question: where’s the beef? This feeding frenzy is doubtless a “faux-scandal” designed to cast a pall over Hillary’s anticipated campaign launch, yet it’s important to inject some reason into the debate, along with factual source material, if only to have a reference point and clearinghouse to debunk the Chicken Little’s in the media.
First, my deepest thanks to fellow traveler John West for his superb and exhaustive research. Having consulted State and Justice Departments websites, the National Institute of Standards and Technology along with every reasonably reported article on the subject from sources such as Bloomberg and The Guardian, Mr. West offered the following summary of his findings in the links appended above and below:
“All emails were preserved by a number of mechanisms in place at the State Department for capturing/recording data. The need for a non .gov email and server arose out of logistics having to do with her job duties. The set up was finalized under the guidance of the State Department according to the protocols in place at the time. Any special allowances to accommodate her job duties that made the .gov email cumbersome were approved and followed the spirit and the letter of the law. Being that most of Hillary Clinton’s work was going to be done on mobile devices due to the travel demands of her position, and various technical and administrative incompatibilities, a personal email/server system was the route suggested and allowed.
Most people working in the state department have stationary jobs with official and unofficial computer stations. Clinton had no such luxury due to her extensive travels. This was not uncommon, nor unprecedented, nor a secret. This was not some rogue invention of Secretary Clinton’s. Her personal email had the blessing of the State Department. President Obama did not need to authorize or sign off on this as it was State Department Business.”
“The short of it is, there were policies and protocols in place. Due to the needs of her job, the special consideration required was given…the idea that she did this email thing all on her own without anyone’s knowledge or blessing is an asinine story line.”*
Fair journalists were all but drowned out today, yet in his article Why Clinton’s “Emailgate” is a Fake Scandal, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, a self-avowed “Clinton agnostic,” does a solid job of laying out facts that debunk not only the New York Times original faulty reporting, but the “smug,” unconvincing defense mounted by Margaret Sullivan, the NYT Public Editor. I felt for her, really, having to lay down cover fire on behalf of this silliness.
Media Matters also debunked another myth claiming that an Ambassador under Clinton’s tenure was fired for using a personal email account:
“Conservative media have accused Hillary Clinton of hypocrisy, claiming that a U.S. ambassador was forced to resign for using a personal email account at the same time Clinton was engaged in a similar practice during her tenure. In fact, the ambassador in question was fired following an investigation that accused him of a vast array of failures and mismanagement, not just improper use of email.”
The State Department’s current daily press briefings supply clarity as well. See also here, here, here, and here for further press briefings and information on protocols for preventing cyber-crime/internet hacking.
Steven Rosenbaum of Forbes penned an article on the why and wherefore of Hillary using her own domain name, attributing it more to efficiency than anything nefarious. Then, a piece that gets into the geek-y weeds, but one I would encourage you to read, by David Gewirtz of ZDNet:
Emailgate: How media mistakes created Hillary Clinton’s fake, fake identity
Summary: The media creates mythology. David Gewirtz looks at how the AP created a new, completely false Hillary Clinton myth about a fake identity, how it’s sticking, and where it all went wrong.”
And lastly, Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the committee endlessly investigating Benghazi, put the last nail in the coffin for Republicans looking to make hay of Hillary Clinton’s emails, which she has already requested be released in full:
“We knew as of last summer that the Secretary used a private email account. This is not something new. We knew also that she was cooperating. She was giving us everything that we asked for. Nothing changed except for the pressure on the Republican members of the committee this week became too great for them to resist from the Stop Hillary PAC people and the RNC people, so they issued a subpoena for records that we already have.”
“Now, the Secretary has called for those records to be made public. Why isn’t the chairman doing that? Why aren’t we doing that? The reason is we’ve read them. There’s nothing in them. My colleague says well, how do we know we have them all? The reality is that if this secretary or anyone else emailed a stand down order as this mythical claim exists out there, there would be several people on the receiving end of that email. There would be people at the Pentagon, people in the field who would have to receive that order. None of that. There is no evidence of that.”
Ultimately, this scandal will not amount to a hill of beans. It is yet another replay of the contemptuous treatment Hilary Clinton received at the hands of the press in 2008. The media’s veiled sexist attacks are compiled here by the always on point Peter Daou, offering a succinct look at the memes attached to this faux-scandal in order to discredit Clinton’s character:
“Polarizing, Calculating, Disingenuous, Secretive, Too Ambitious, Represents The Past, Out Of Touch, Will Do Anything To Win, Inevitable, Entitled/Over-Confident.”
How many of these descriptors have you seen applied to any man? One? Two? None?
The real losers here are the American people, who are daily bombarded by something that is, at best, a minor issue regarding an email server so secure it was used by a former President, namely her husband, guarded 24/7 by the Secret Service.
Ironic that former Secretary of State Colin Powell used a personal email account during his tenure and received no blow-back – despite the fact that he confessed on the Sunday morning shows that, unlike Secretary Clinton who had already turned over 55,000 pages of emails upon request, Powell neither saved nor turned over one email to the State Department when asked.
If you are waiting for Republicans or the media to demand answers on that score, you’d best take up knitting to pass the time. Once you’ve knitted a sweater for everyone in New York, the media might get around to addressing the double standard in their reporting.
But don’t bet on it.
*John West generously contributed to the research for this article.
**This post syndicated by BlogHer.
Anita Finlay is the bestselling author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin — exposing media bias in a society not as evolved as advertised. #1 on Amazon’s Women in Politics books for 16 weeks.
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