“The Unrelenting Hostility Of Washington’s Courtier Press”: The Media’s Crusade Of Scandals Against Hillary Clinton
It’s always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she’d do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult. Michelle Goldberg does an excellent job defining the problem in a Slate article about why so many people say they hate her.
“There’s a reason actors do screen tests,” Goldberg writes. “Not everyone’s charm translates to film and video. For as long as Hillary Clinton has been in public life, people who’ve met in her person have marveled at how much more likable she is in the flesh than she is on television.”
As a friendly acquaintance since 1980, I’d second that. My wife, who worked with her on the board of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, will hear nothing against her. We recently read a Facebook posting from a friend in Eureka Springs. Neither a big-shot nor a political activist, Crescent was profoundly touched that after her husband died in a bicycle crash, one of her first callers was New York’s newly-elected Senator. Hillary had left Arkansas for good, but not its people.
But no, her personal warmth doesn’t always come across on TV. She’s anything but a natural actress. However, like most pundits, Goldberg glosses over the issue that’s plagued Hillary since Bill Clinton’s first term: the unrelenting hostility of Washington’s courtier press.
People say they don’t trust the media, and then they credit the imaginary scandals this cohort has peddled for 25 years. The exact causes of Clinton-hatred among the press clique remain obscure. Was it Bill Clinton’s humble Arkansas origins? Humbling the Bush family? Failing to pay homage to society hostess Sally Quinn? Nobody knows.
Todd S. Purdum has recently offered a classic in the genre: a compulsively disingenuous Politico piece entitled “Why Can’t Hillary Stop Fudging the Truth?” It begins by describing a “brief, but revelatory” exchange between Clinton and Charlie Rose.
Asked about her damn emails, Hillary tried to broaden Rose’s focus.
“Well, I would hope that you like many others would also look at what he said when he testified before Congress,” she said, “because when he did, he clarified much of what he had said in his press conference.”
If you’re like most Americans, you don’t know that when Comey testified, he was forced to walk back his assertion that the FBI found three (out of 30,000) documents marked “classified” among her emails.
Were they properly marked? Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) asked.
“No,” Comey answered.
So wouldn’t the absence of such markings “tell her immediately that those three documents were not classified?”
“That would be a reasonable inference,” Comey said.
In other words, contrary to the FBI director’s grandstanding press conference and a million Republicans chanting “Hillary lied,” there were zero documents marked classified on her server. Not one.
So was Comey dissembling during his press conference? Or had he made an honest error? Pundits like Purdum know better than to ask. He never acknowledged Comey’s walk back. No, the real issue was Hillary’s “sloppiness,” and her forgetting Comey used that exact word.
“The pattern is unmistakable,” Purdum scolded, “from the Whitewater inquiry (when she resisted disclosing documents about a failed Arkansas land deal)…to the Rose Law Firm billing records (which infamously and mysteriously turned up in the White House residence after she’d said they were missing) to the Monica Lewinsky affair and the State Department emails themselves.”
A more misleading paragraph would be hard to imagine. In fact, the Clintons voluntarily delivered Whitewater documents to the independent counsel, but not to New York Times reporters whose inept, downright deceptive reporting created the bogus “scandal.”
If there had to be an investigation, they wanted a real one.
Also no, but the famous billing records didn’t turn up in the White House residence, “mysteriously” or otherwise. An aide found them in a box under her desk in the Old Executive Office Building, where she’d misplaced them. (They were Xerox copies, incidentally. Hence no motive for hiding them existed.)
Once found, of course, they vindicated Hillary’s sworn testimony. See Joe Conason’s and my book “The Hunting of the President” for details.
As to the “Monica Lewinsky affair,” is there anybody in America that doesn’t know Bill Clinton played slap and tickle with a young thing at the office and lied about it?
How is that his wife’s fault?
Anyone who’s followed Hillary Clinton’s political career has seen this happen time and again. Ballyhooed charges of wrongdoing and/or perjury that collapse in the light of evidence, only to have newly imagined allegations follow almost at once.
Can you say Benghazi?
Some years ago, I got to ask the late televangelist Jerry Falwell on camera which of the Ten Commandments was the worse sin, adultery or false witness? Falwell had peddled the “Clinton Chronicles,” hysterical videos charging the president with drug smuggling and murder.
To his credit, Falwell said they were equally bad.
By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, July 27, 2016
You read it here first: “Fearless prediction,” this column began last April 6: “No legalistic deus ex machina will descend to save the nation from the dread specter of President Hillary Rodham Clinton…no Kenneth Starr-style ‘independent’ prosecutor, no criminal indictment over her ‘damn emails,’ no how, no way.
“Ain’t gonna happen…
“Those impassioned Trump supporters holding ‘Hillary for Prison’ signs are sure to be disappointed. Again. Played for suckers by a scandal-mongering news media that declared open season on Clinton 25 years ago. And haven’t laid a glove on her yet.”
If they wanted to prevent Hillary from taking the oath of office next January, I wrote, voters were “going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: defeat her at the polls.”
As of this writing, that’s not looking too likely either. Minutes before the news broke that FBI Director James B. Comey announced that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring criminal charges against Secretary Clinton, I’d made an observation to a Republican friend on Facebook regarding his expressed wish to see her jailed.
“As a personal matter,” I wrote, “you wouldn’t trust Trump to walk your dog.” After Comey’s announcement, he groused that Hillary had friends in high places, but didn’t dispute my characterization of Trump. Although we disagree politically, I’d trust my friend with anything requiring honesty and steadfastness—dog-walking, cow-feeding, anything at all.
I see Trump, I keep my hand on my wallet. Seen that bizarre interview on Lives of the Rich and Famous where Trump speculates about the eventual size of his infant daughter’s breasts?
No? Then read on USA Today about the thousands of contractors—carpenters, plumbers, electricians–Trump’s stiffed on construction jobs. You do the work, he doesn’t pay. Even his own lawyers sometimes.
The man’s been sued 3500 times. Think he gives a damn about you?
So anyway, last week saw the collapse of not one, but two ballyhooed Hillary Clinton investigations. Even after two years, $7 million and 800-odd pages, Rep. Trey Gowdy’s celebrated Benghazi committee—the eighth of its kind—failed to come up with hurtful new evidence against Secretary Clinton in the tragic events in Libya on September 11, 2012.
But then that wasn’t necessarily the point.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee,” GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted last September. “What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.”
So the committee folds its cards, Bill Clinton does his happy Labrador retriever act on Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s airplane, and The Washington Post says we’re nevertheless back to Square One: “Can Hillary Clinton Overcome Her Trust Problem?” reporter Anne Gearan asks.
Clinton herself acknowledges that voters don’t see her as Miss Congeniality. She says she’s working hard to overcome that impression, but acknowledges it’s an uphill struggle.
“You know, you hear 25 years’ worth of wild accusations, anyone could start to wonder…Political opponents and conspiracy theorists have accused me of every crime in the book. None of it’s true, never has been, but it also never goes away,” Clinton told the Post.
“And it certainly is true that I’ve made mistakes. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t,” Clinton continued. “So I understand that people have questions.”
Indeed many of those “questions” about Hillary’s dishonesty originated in acts of journalistic malpractice so crude that their authors would have been shamed out of the profession—if the profession had any shame at the Washington pundit level.
Back in December 1995, ABC’s Nightline broadcast a doctored video clip that made Hillary appear to be lying about representing a Whitewater savings and loan. In reality, she’d explained her role as billing attorney on the account. No wonder “the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster’s office when he killed himself,” Jeff Greenfield observed, an insinuation as ugly as it was false.
Her imminent indictment was widely predicted.
A few months later, financial journalist James B. Stewart appeared on the same program, promoting his farcically inaccurate book “Blood Sport.” (He’d failed to read the Treasury Department’s “Pillsbury Report” and taken soon-to-be-convicted Jim McDougal’s word for everything.) Stewart gravely produced a loan application he alleged that Hillary had falsified, a federal crime, he said.
Joe Conason noticed something at the bottom of the page: “(BOTH SIDES OF THIS DOCUMENT MUST BE COMPLETED.)” Sure enough, Stewart had neglected to examine page two of a two page application.
Oops, hold the handcuffs and the orange jumpsuit.
If you think Stewart’s career suffered, you must not read the New York Times or the New Yorker.
Anyway, nothing’s really changed. Paradoxically, the collapse of one ballyhooed Clinton “scandal” after another appears to have hurt her. Few follow the details. But people suspect that she must be especially cunning and slippery to keep getting away with it, the bitch.
By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, July 5, 2016
“In The Land Of His Imagination”: Even Donald Trump’s Most Presidential Speech Was A Bizarre, Lie-Riddled Fantasy
On Wednesday, Donald Trump gave one of the most presidential speeches he’s ever delivered — which is to say, a speech that was written out beforehand and which he read off a teleprompter, without his usual digressions into his spectacular performance in the polls and the scum-sucking lowlifes who have filed lawsuits against him (or are judges in those lawsuits). But just when you think Trump is going to put together a logical and persuasive case on something — in this speech, the all-encompassing villainy of Hillary Clinton was the topic — he dashes off into the land of his imagination, spinning out a weird series of easily debunked lies and bizarre fantasies.
This pattern repeated itself over and over in Trump’s speech (you can read the prepared text here; there were some off-the-cuff embellishments, but not too many). He would start with a reasonable critique: for instance, that Clinton supported NAFTA, which cost Americans jobs. But then he would take that critique to an absurd place: “Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs, and effectively let China completely rebuild itself. In return, Hillary Clinton got rich!”
After trade, Trump moved on to Benghazi, of course. Setting a serious tone, Trump said, “She started the war that put [Ambassador Chris Stevens] in Libya, denied him the security he asked for, then left him there to die.” Trump continued with this fanciful exploration of the full breadth and depth of Clinton’s power, which apparently existed on a scale that would make kings and presidents seem like tiny bugs the titanic Hillary could brush off her shoulder:
In just four years, Secretary Clinton managed to almost single-handedly destabilize the entire Middle East.
Her invasion of Libya handed the country over to the ISIS barbarians.
Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Iran is now the dominant Islamic power in the Middle East, and on the road to nuclear weapons.
Hillary Clinton’s support for violent regime change in Syria has thrown the country into one of the bloodiest civil wars anyone has ever seen — while giving ISIS a launching pad for terrorism against the West.
She helped force out a friendly regime in Egypt and replace it with the radical Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian military has retaken control, but Clinton has opened the Pandora’s box of radical Islam. [Donald Trump]
Let’s recap. You may have thought there was a revolution in Libya to overthrow longtime despot Moammar Gadhafi, a revolution that accomplished its initial goal with some help from the United States. This apparently is not correct; it turns out that what actually happened was that Hillary Clinton invaded Libya. Iran’s influence in the region? All because Hillary Clinton wanted it that way. Syria’s civil war? Started by Hillary Clinton. All those people you saw protesting Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Cairo’s Tahrir Square? Sent there by Hillary Clinton, I suppose, who then engineered the ensuing election to make sure the Muslim Brotherhood won. Radical Islam? Non-existent before Hillary Clinton came along (but don’t tell al Qaeda).
I won’t bother to go through the long list of lies Trump told through the rest of his speech (that he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, that there’s no system to vet refugees, etc.) But whenever Trump began a legitimate critique of Clinton, it would inevitably go off the rails. It’s fine to criticize her use of private email at the State Department, which was a mistake. But Trump says that in the personal emails her attorneys segregated from those to be sent to the State Department and which were then deleted, there were terrifying secrets. “While we may not know what is in those deleted emails, our enemies probably do. So they probably now have a blackmail file over someone who wants to be president of the United States. This fact alone disqualifies her from the presidency. We can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies.”
I suppose if you use “probably” as a modifier you can say whatever you want, like “Donald Trump probably keeps his hair soft and manageable by shampooing in the blood of kittens.” Do we know that, or have any concrete evidence that it might be true? No. But it probably is, right?
I have no doubt that Trump’s most ardent fans eat stuff like this up. When he calls Clinton “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency,” they cheer in agreement. But Trump’s task isn’t to delight his supporters, it’s to win over people who aren’t already in his camp. But only someone who is already a Trump voter could be persuaded by that kind of ridiculous hyperbole.
And that’s what Trump is like when he’s being presidential.
By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, June 23, 2016
“The Hysteria Of The Hillary Haters”: An Exaggerated Animosity Lacking Any Rational Connection To Reality
Over the past few weeks, Republican politicians and party officials have begun the dreary and demoralizing work of reconciling themselves to the prospect of Donald Trump serving as the GOP’s presidential nominee.
Conservative writers and intellectuals, by contrast, have been more obstinate.
A few have come out in grudging and grumbling support of the likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Most of the others, meanwhile, have expressed disgust at the prospect of having to choose between Trump and Clinton at all. This has inspired a small group of dissenters to fasten onto the fantasy of sparking a “true conservative” third-party challenge to Trump.
But many of the rest seem inclined to settle into a pox-on-both-your-houses position: Trump’s unfitness to serve as president is obvious, running the gamut from wholesale ignorance about policy to temperamental volatility and authoritarian instincts that alarm every informed and responsible observer. But Clinton is no better. She’s corrupt! She can’t be trusted! She isn’t qualified to be president! And oh boy, is she unlikeable!
This implies that the most responsible thing for a conservative to do is refrain from voting at all.
That would be foolish. Does Clinton have flaws? You bet she does. But the Hillary hatred that seems to motivate the right’s most adamant objections to her ascending to the presidency is rooted in unfair and exaggerated animosity lacking any rational connection to reality.
The national threat posed by a potential President Trump more than justifies that conservatives promptly get over it.
I can certainly understand ambivalence about Clinton. I feel some of it myself, even though she’s pretty close to my ideological (neoliberal) sweet spot on domestic policy. My hesitation comes mainly from the air of scandal that, as I’ve put it before, seems to follow her and her husband around like the cloud of filth that trails Pig-Pen from Peanuts. If I also opposed her economic agenda, as most conservatives do, I could imagine that concern curdling into something harsher.
On the other hand, I have strong objections to Clinton on foreign policy, where I think her hawkish instincts (on Iraq, Libya, and Syria) have led her badly astray on numerous occasions — and where conservatives probably find her outlook pretty congenial.
That’s a mixed bag. But under present circumstances, it should be good enough to win her conservative support, however reluctant.
Those on the other side usually begin with the signs of corruption that trouble me as well.
The contrast with Barack Obama is instructive. Contending with a rabidly hostile Congress for five of his seven years as president, Obama has nonetheless managed to avoid becoming embroiled in any significant scandals. There have been no subpoenas of White House staff, no special prosecutors.
Is it even conceivable that a Hillary Clinton administration would be so clean? Not a chance. From the string of scandals during Bill Clinton’s presidency (including an impeachment proceeding) to Hillary Clinton’s email imbroglio to signs of questionable practices at the Clinton Global Initiative, the Clintons seem to be plagued by a mix of bad luck and congenitally poor judgment that we have every reason to assume would follow them back to the White House.
But here’s the thing: Every single accusation is trivial. Petty. Penny-ante. Yes, even the business about Clinton’s private email server. And especially the septic tank full of hyped-up, conspiracy-laden nonsense that goes by the name of “Benghazi.” (If well-meaning members of the conservative movement want to explore how the Republican electorate ended up hoodwinked by a transparent charlatan-demagogue like Donald Trump, they could do worse than reflecting on their own complicity in publicizing, or at least failing to defuse, this endless, cockamamie “scandal.”)
In an ideal political world, all administrations would be as clean as Obama’s. But as the events of this election cycle have demonstrated quite vividly, this is most emphatically not an ideal political world — and in the deeply troubling world we do inhabit, the prospect of a president dogged by minor scandals shouldn’t distract us from the far higher stakes involved in the upcoming election.
As for the other conservative objections to Clinton, they are even less compelling.
She’s unqualified? Compared to whom? Clinton’s been a successful lawyer. A first lady. A senator. A secretary of state. If that isn’t a stellar resume for a would-be president, I don’t know what would be. It’s certainly far more impressive than Barack Obama’s remarkably modest list of accomplishments when he ran for president — let alone Trump’s background of inheriting a few hundred million dollars and using that wealth to play a real-life game of Monopoly in the richest real estate market in the country (while still managing to file for bankruptcy four times).
Can Clinton be trusted? Probably no more or less than any other politician. Public servants go where the votes are, and in a primary season in which she’s had to fight a left-wing insurgency against the Democratic establishment and her husband’s centrist legacy as president, Clinton has undeniably moved modestly to the left. The question is whether it’s possible to imagine any presidential hopeful in the same situation not doing precisely the same thing. I think the answer is no.
Finally, there’s Clinton’s likeability. Follow conservatives on Twitter during a Clinton speech and you’ll hear the litany. She shouts. She hectors. She condescends. She’s shrill. She laughs in a really annoying way.
I’ll give Clinton’s conservative critics this: She isn’t the most charismatic politician in the world. But you know what? That’s her problem, not anyone else’s. If the voters find her sufficiently off-putting, they won’t elect her. The question is whether, when conservatives are presented with a candidate whose defects go far beyond style, they will be willing to put the good of the country ahead of what really is a merely aesthetic objection.
The path ahead for conservatives is clear. If they want to assure that Donald Trump loses, they need to assure that Hillary Clinton wins.
By: Damon Linker, The Week, May 19, 2016