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“Media Playing The Role Of Enabler”: Out Of Touch Punditry Should Get A Grip — Hillary’s Email Is Non-Story

A message to the out-of-touch Washington pundit class: get a grip. What was or was not on Hillary Clinton’s email server when she was Secretary of State is not a game-changing news story.

In fact, no one outside the chattering class — and right-wing true believers — could give a rat’s rear about this story — and there is a good reason: there is no “there” there. If someone really thinks the great “email” story — or the Benghazi investigation — are going to sink her candidacy, I’ve got a bridge to sell them.

Of course, this is not the first time that the media — with an assist from right-wing political operatives — have laid into Hillary Clinton in an attempt to create a “scandal” where there was none.

Over the weekend, syndicated columnist Gene Lyons quoted a New York Times editorial as saying:

“These clumsy efforts at suppression are feckless and self-defeating.” It argued that these actions are “swiftly draining away public trust in (her) integrity.”

That editorial actually appeared in January 1994. The Times was expressing outrage at Hillary Clinton’s turning over Whitewater documents to federal instigators rather than the press, which, as Lyons pointed out, ” had conjured a make-believe scandal out of bogus reporting of a kind that’s since become all too familiar in American journalism.”

Speaking on NPR’s Diane Rehm show, the Atlantic’s Molly Ball sounded the same notes 21 years later. The email issue “continued to contribute to the perception that she has something to hide.”

The Times’ Sheryl Gay Solberg added that the email issue “creates and feeds into this narrative about the Clintons and Mrs. Clinton that the rules are different for them, and she’s not one of us.” Really?

What might really feed a negative narrative would be the New York Times’ own story several weeks ago that falsely accused Ms. Clinton of being under criminal investigation. Which she is not and never was. The Times public editor acknowledged that the story was false and that it fed another narrative: that the New York Times had an ax to grind against the Clintons.

Of course the bottom lines of this story are simple:

At the time Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State there was no prohibition against the Secretary of State having a private email server. In fact, no Secretary of State before Ms. Clinton had a government email account.

None of the emails on the Secretary’s personal account were classified at the time they were sent or received. That is not in dispute. There is an on-going controversy between various agencies of what ought to be classified in retrospect as the material is released to the public by the State Department, but that does not change the fact that none of it was classified at the time. In fact, one of the several emails at issue actually says the word “unclassified” in the upper left hand corner and can still be accessed by the general public on the State Department web site.

Finally, no one has ever pointed to an instance where the fact that something was on her server instead of a government server had any negative consequences whatsoever.

There is no issue here, period.

And as for the Benghazi “affair,” none of the many investigations that have already been completed concerning the events surrounding the death of the American Ambassador to Libya in the Benghazi attack has found a shred of evidence that that Hillary Clinton did anything wrong whatsoever leading up to or in response to that attack.

And frankly if you ask most people about the Benghazi affair they think you’re talking about something you rub on your muscles to reduce pain.

So now Congressman Trey Gowdy, who is the Chair of the Select Committee that was set up by the Republicans in the House to once again investigate this non-scandal, has decided to investigate the non-existent issue of the Clinton email server as well — even though he acknowledges that it has nothing to do with Benghazi.

Not withstanding the lack of substance to any of these issues, people like Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post proclaim that they could be a terrible weight on her candidacy.

Who exactly are these pundits talking to? Rarely have they been so out of touch with the real American electorate. The perceptions and narratives they are discussing are the perceptions and narratives of the insider pundit and political class — not normal voters.

And the same goes for often-unnamed Clinton backers that are wringing their hands that Clinton has not yet put the email issue behind her.

No one is handed the American presidency — and that is especially true of a candidates that are not incumbent Presidents.

Every candidate faces many challenges and hurdles to getting elected — and Hillary Clinton is no different. But the email-server issue is not one of them.

Clinton’s campaign completely recognizes that it must fight for every delegate in the primaries and every vote in the general election.

In the general election, she must motivate Democratic base voters to turn out in massive numbers. She must excite new voters — especially young people and women. And she must persuade undecided voters that she will fight effectively to actually change the rules of the political and economic game so that we have economic growth that benefits every American, not just Corporate CEO’s and Wall Street Banks.

These are her real challenges — and her campaign is focused like a laser on meeting those challenges.

It’s time for her supporters to focus on those challenges as well — and for the media to resist continuing to play its role as enabler of baseless right wing attacks like the great email and Benghazi “scandals” of 2015.

 

By: Robert Creamer, Political Organizer, Strategist, Author; Partner Democracy Partners; The Blog, The Huffington Post, August

August 30, 2015 Posted by | Benghazi, Clinton Emails, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Americans Think Politics Is Corrupt

After living in Massachusetts, I left the Northeast for the  first time to go to grad school at the University of Minnesota. While I lived  in the Twin Cities, the Democratic Farmer-Labor Gov. Wendell Anderson was re-elected  to a second term. At the beginning of his new term, the governor created a  crisis in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes by making one of his money  guys a member of his cabinet.

Coming from Massachusetts and being used to the hurly burly  of Bay  State politics, I found this scandal surprising. After all, back home   there would have been an uproar if the governor hadn’t appointed his  financial contributor to the cabinet. But Scandinavians brought a good  government ethic to  Minnesota. Massachusetts is Massachusetts. In the  Bay State political deals are  sealed with cash. The last three speakers  of the Massachusetts House of  Representatives have all been convicted  of corruption.

In the last couple of decades, American politics has become  a lot  more like Massachusetts politics and a lot less like Minnesota’s. There   was a time, long ago and far away when people frowned on the appearance  of  impropriety. Now politicians don’t even seem to care about actual   impropriety.

Political pursuit of the almighty dollar is why voters have  so  little trust in Congress to do the right thing. As a radio talk show  host, I  hear over and over again from my listeners that legislators are  in the tank  with big business. I don’t share this skepticism since I  have worked with many  men and women of great integrity as a political consultant. But perception is  reality in politics and as long as people  believe that politicians are trading  their votes for cash, Americans  won’t have any confidence in Congress. And in a  democracy, the process  will only work if the people trust the system.

The only effective way to restore public trust in politics  is to get  big money out of the system. The best solution would be public  funding  of campaigns. But that’s not realistic now since the Supreme Court  opened  the financial floodgates last year in its infamous Citizens’  United decision.  Because of the Court’s ruling, voters will be at the  receiving end of a  hurricane of violently negative campaign ads over  the next year which will  destroy whatever is left of public trust in  government.

The next best remedy to restored trust in government is to  force the  networks and individual TV and radio stations to give free time to   political candidates. The networks receive billions of dollars in  federal  freebies every fiscal year since stations do not have to pay  for the right to  use public airwaves. It’s time for the media to make  the same kinds of  sacrifices that working families are making to keep  this country strong.

 

By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, December 2, 2011

December 3, 2011 Posted by | Big Business, Democracy | , , , | Leave a comment

Wisconsin Supreme Court: A Study In Judicial Dysfunction

Harsh state judicial campaigns financed by ever larger amounts of special interest money are eating away at public faith in judicial impartiality. There are few places where the spectacle is more shameful than Wisconsin, where over-the-top campaigning, self-interested rulings, and a complete breakdown of courthouse collegiality and ethics is destroying trust in its Supreme Court.

On Monday, a special prosecutor was named to investigate an altercation between two justices on opposite sides of the court’s bitter ideological divide. Ann Walsh Bradley, a member of the court’s liberal wing, has charged that David Prosser, a conservative, put her in a chokehold during a heated exchange shortly before the court upheld the new state law eliminating most collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

Justice Prosser has disputed Justice Bradley’s version of what occurred, and the facts remain unclear. What is certain is that Justice Prosser should have recused himself from that ruling. His vote to uphold the law occurred shortly after his re-election campaign in which he benefited from heavy anti-union independent spending.

Justice Prosser won the April election by a very small margin, prompting a recount. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that he then raised more than $270,000 for the recount, much of it in $50,000 chunks. (The contribution limits that apply under Wisconsin’s public financing system for judicial races do not extend to recounts.) Some $75,000 of the haul was used to pay fees to a law firm led by an attorney representing conservative groups in a case challenging state campaign disclosure rules, which is scheduled to be heard by the court next month.

Given the lawyer’s role in Justice Prosser’s recent recount success, a reasonable person might well question the judge’s impartiality on that case, too. After first saying he had no intention of recusing himself, Justice Prosser on Thursday asked the parties in the campaign finance case to file memos stating their views about recusal. It should not take a formal request for him to step aside.

A contentious 4-to-3 decision by the court last month declared recusal decisions by the justices to be unreviewable. In another sign of the court’s dysfunction, the deciding vote came from Justice Patience Roggensack, whose involvement in an earlier case was the subject of the disqualification motion that the court was reviewing. Like the ruling itself, Justice Roggensack’s participation in judging her own conduct showed astounding disregard for legal ethics and every litigant’s right to impartial justice. The problems don’t even stop there. A year ago, by another 4-to-3 vote along ideological lines, the court weakened the recusal standard by adopting a rule saying that campaign fund-raising or expenditures can never be the sole basis for a judge’s disqualification. The rule was largely written by a business group that has spent lavishly in judicial campaigns.

Members of Wisconsin’s top court need to focus on restoring civility and public trust. For starters, they should scrap last year’s decision on campaign money in favor of strict disclosure requirements for lawyers and litigants. They should also adopt an appeals process for recusals, so the final decision is no longer left to the judge whose impartiality is being questioned. The court’s credibility, and justice in Wisconsin, are on the line.

 

By: New York Times Editorial, August 19, 2011

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Justice, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Teaparty, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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