The New York Times Owes a Front Page Apology to Hillary Clinton
29 Jul 2015
Yesterday, The New York Times’ public editor offered a harsh “note” on her paper’s botched, false story about two Inspectors General pursuing a criminal investigation against Hillary Clinton for “mishandling sensitive information in her emails.” Though Ms. Sullivan referred to the incident as a “mess” that “rippled through the entire news system”, her note was not unlike scientists making observations of Petri dish specimens to which they have no actual relationship. The truth is more dangerous. The New York Times’ longtime obvious bias against Hillary Clinton rises to the level of a vendetta, their disrespect toward her surpassed only by their willingness to push unsubstantiated attacks from “anonymous sources” as fact. If they care about restoring their once great reputation, The New York Times must start by making a front page apology to Secretary Clinton.
As Salon’s Simon Malloy noted, their blunder was “quickly updated,” but that too is understating the paper’s behavior. As continuing corrections were issued, the digital edition was quietly and repeatedly changed – without changing their very damaging headline or notifying readers that anything was wrong. Then, after their screw-up was blasted far and wide, they “placed blame for the error on anonymous ‘senior government officials’ who had provided erroneous information on the DOJ referral.” Mr. Malloy further states:
“Obviously we don’t know who those “senior government officials” are, but there are some reasonable suspects. The Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi seem convinced that their Republican counterparts are to blame. “The leak of the Inspector General’s referral, and the mischaracterization that accompanied its leak, demonstrate once again how the Select Committee on Benghazi has lost sight of its mission and become little more than the taxpayer funded effort to attack Secretary Clinton,” Rep. Adam Schiff said in a statement. (If it did originate from the Benghazi committee, that wouldn’t be a surprise, given that chairman Trey Gowdy has effectively given his colleagues and staff a green light to leak.)”
The Atlantic’s Norm Ornstein, rightly upset with the paper’s egregious overreach and reporter errors, wants “more than a shrug” from their Executive Editor, Dean Baquet and Matt Purdy, the head of their investigative reporting team:
““We got it wrong because our very good sources got it wrong,” Purdy said. Excuse me—how are these “very good sources” if they mislead reporters about the fundamental facts? Were the congressional sources—no doubt “very good” because they are eagerly accessible to the reporters—careless in reading the referral documents, or deliberately misleading the reporters? We know that a very good reporter formerly with the Times, Kurt Eichenwald, read the memos from the inspectors general about the Clinton emails and quite readily came to the conclusion that this had nothing to do with a criminal referral, but instead reflected a fairly common concern regarding the recent release of particular documents under Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, long after Clinton left the State Department.”
Mr. Ornstein, like others who have weighed in on the Times’ latest journalistic blunder, states that heads should roll for these offenses. And, like others who have an abiding respect for the paper, has expressed palpable disappointment that The New York Times should stoop to such tactics along with a heartfelt wish that they right the ship.
But are we missing the point here? Journalists who plead with NYT’s publishers to “right the ship” assume they want to, when clearly, this newspaper has been guilty of breathless scandalmongering where the Clintons are concerned since “Whitewater” 23 years ago. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman penned a column recently cautioning his own newspaper against this kind of overreach. NYT editors are not stupid, nor are they asleep at the wheel. So what gives?
Recently, Vox’s Jonathan Allen, co-author of the book, HRC, offered a scathing and revealing confessional regarding the double standards for reporting on the Clintons. He stated: “As a reporter, I get sucked into playing by the Clinton rules. This is what I’ve seen in my colleagues, and in myself.”
Here are the rules. Brace yourself:
1) Everything, no matter how ludicrous-sounding, is worthy of a full investigation by federal agencies, Congress, the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and mainstream media outlets
2) Every allegation, no matter how ludicrous, is believable until it can be proven completely and utterly false. And even then, it keeps a life of its own in the conservative media world.
3) The media assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there’s hard evidence otherwise.
4) Everything is newsworthy because the Clintons are the equivalent of America’s royal family
5) Everything she does is fake and calculated for maximum political benefit.
Allen later noted that these destructive habits hurt the American people as much as their intended target because they obscure whatever the real story might be due to the media’s obsession with landing the plum trophy of at last “bagging” the Clintons.
But what makes these two people so “bad”? And why the contempt for the Clintons from the very beginning, nearly 25 years ago? Was the attitude akin to columnist Sally Quinn’s “not our kind, dear”?
Bill Clinton was born poor. Hillary, middle class. The two of them came out of Arkansas to win the White House. Twice. Hillary then forged her own successful political career as a popular two-term New York Senator and Secretary of State. Whatever his personal failings, Bill Clinton has occupied himself post-Presidency with the Clinton Foundation, an organization that has literally helped millions of people around the world; one that donates 88-89% of monies received to charity (well above the industry standard of 75%). And despite the NYT recent frenzied badmouthing of this organization, it is considered the gold standard in terms of disclosing donors.
We must also examine why The New York Times seems intent on destroying the political career of a woman who has dedicated much of her life to helping others.
Fresh out of law school, Hillary Clinton started with the Children’s Defense Fund, and to this day is revered in Arkansas for her contributions to vastly improving their education system. As Senator, she quietly went to bat for veterans (I encourage you to read an entertaining, surprising piece entitled “Redneck Infantrymen for Hillary”) and first responders after 9/11. She fought for women’s rights around the world many years before it was cool. Most important, both Democrats and Republicans (when they are not running against her) have been honest enough to admit they like working with her; that she is a brilliant, diligent and collegial partner with whom they have accomplished works that actually benefit the America people.
So what is it the New York Times wants to destroy? What interest group is served by trashing arguably the most intelligent candidate on the scene today? Is it jealousy? The need to take down Hermione Granger?
Hillary Clinton is by no means perfect, but what standard are we holding her to while Governors and Presidential candidates Scott Walker and Jeb Bush get a relative pass on questionable campaign finance issues on which the Times would do well to focus its laser-like attention.
Will Hillary Clinton get a full page apology and fair treatment going forward?And what does it say about the “paper of record” if they cannot acknowledge the damage they have done and attempt to remedy the situation. Won’t that mar their credibility on other stories? How can this newspaper hold up the banner for the “Fourth Estate” and pretend they have the welfare of the American people at heart if they behave irresponsibly?
My bet is that The New York Times will sweep this under the rug and continue to overvalue click-bait, perhaps cleaving to a prideful elitism rather than falling on the sword as they should. As earlier illustrated by their partnership with Peter Schweizer, author of the now debunked “Clinton Cash,” The New York Times appears willing to sidle up to questionable sources in order to snag the biggest prize in national politics: Hillary Clinton’s scalp.
Now that the The New York Times has offered up another distortion of epic proportion, the American people will have to decide whether Hillary is going to take theirs.
Anita Finlay is the bestselling author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin. Sharing the untold story of Hillary’s 2008 campaign, Dirty Words exposes media sexism in a society not as evolved as advertised. “The book tells it like it is for women aspiring to power.” #1 on Amazon’s Women in Politics books for 16 weeks.
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