The corporate media's relentless focus on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email as Secretary of State has been vastly out of proportion to the actual gravity of the issue. Our research shows that the email issue has been covered every single day — often multiple times a day — for more than a year. Trump hasn't received anywhere near that type of obsessive reporting for any of his myriad transgressions. It now appears we've reached a turning point, with a definitive Washington Post editorial placing the overhyped issue in much-needed perspective.
There was going to be a manufactured Clinton scandal in 2016. Hillary Clinton’s opponents were bound to try to derail her with some fabricated Whitewater-style smear, something the corporate media would sink their teeth into and refuse to let go.
It could have been a dozen other trumped-up issues. It ended up being the emails.
As we enter the final fall stretch, there’s little doubt that the emails will be flogged by Hillary’s detractors every day for the remainder of the election. We know that the issue has impacted her public image, but does the continued obsession past Labor Day actually hurt her? Or does it help?
Let’s start with this fascinating nugget buried in a recent NY Times article:
Mr. Trump said he could not “spend more than five minutes talking about her emails at my rallies, because people will lose interest, and you have to talk about other things to keep their attention.”
Trump is conceding the obvious: Hillary’s use of a private email account is the most over-hyped political story of the decade.
That’s not hyperbole. Our team took to Lexis Nexis, TVEyes, and Google and came back with a staggering, though unsurprising, conclusion:
Hillary’s “damn emails” (to quote Bernie Sanders) have been mentioned in major media publications every single day going back more than a year.
We’re talking big media outlets, not blogs or local papers: AP, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, New York Times, Washington Post, etc. And more often than not there were multiple mentions across the national media on a given day.
To this moment, the issue is still being treated as major news by our corporate press, even though a recent Monmouth poll found that 63% of Americans are tired of hearing about it.
I’ve postulated a counter-intuitive take on the emails, namely that every day the story is covered between now and November 8 is a day Hillary is winning. That’s not to say we should give the corporate media a pass for this deeply imbalanced reporting, but that we should think beyond the obvious and examine the actual ramifications of their obsession.
Consider this: Hillary long ago expressed regret, and despite all the overheated rhetoric, was exonerated of any wrongdoing. The email controversy has essentially turned out to be another in a long line of artificially inflated Clinton faux-scandals.
As a proof point, Kevin Drum writes this compelling passage summarizing the FBI email investigation:
This [FBI] report is pretty much an almost complete exoneration of Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t prohibited from using a personal device or a personal email account, and others at state did it routinely. She’s told the truth all along about why she did it. Colin Powell did indeed advise her about using personal email shortly after she took office, but she chose to follow the rules rather than skirt them, as Powell did. She didn’t take her BlackBerry into her office. She communicated with only a very select group of 13 people. She took no part in deciding which emails were personal before handing them over to State. She had nothing to do with erasing information on the PRN server. That was a screw-up on PRN’s end. She and her staff all believed at the time that they were careful not to conduct sensitive conversations over unclassified email systems. And there’s no evidence that her server was ever hacked. There’s remarkably little here.
Reinforcing that argument, FBI Director Comey now says the conclusion to exonerate Hillary of wrongdoing wasn’t even a close call.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) September 8, 2016
Despite month after month of emails, emails, emails, Hillary is in a strong position to win in November. Why should we assume that hammering the email story for the remaining weeks of the campaign will somehow magically accomplish what an entire year of relentless coverage hasn’t been able to do?
This may sound counter-intuitive but it’s a logical conclusion from the facts: Every day Hillary’s opponents flog her emails is a day she’s winning.
Simply because it’s a day they’re not landing any serious blows on anything else.
And from the wild-eyed attacks on the Clinton Foundation and the disgraceful conspiracies about her health, it appears her opponents know they desperately need something other than emails to derail her.
I’ll go a step further and make a prediction in light of the outcry against Matt Lauer for his inordinate focus on the emails during NBC’s Commander-in-Chief forum:
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) September 8, 2016
UPDATE (9/8/16): The Washington Post has published an immensely important editorial, from which I quote:
Judging by the amount of time NBC’s Matt Lauer spent pressing Hillary Clinton on her emails during Wednesday’s national security presidential forum, one would think that her homebrew server was one of the most important issues facing the country this election. It is not.
Ms. Clinton’s emails have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have, and the criminal case against her was so thin that charging her would have been to treat her very differently. Ironically, even as the email issue consumed so much precious airtime, several pieces of news reported Wednesday should have taken some steam out of the story. First is a memo FBI Director James B. Comey sent to his staff explaining that the decision not to recommend charging Ms. Clinton was “not a cliff-hanger” and that people “chest-beating” and second-guessing the FBI do not know what they are talking about. Anyone who claims that Ms. Clinton should be in prison accuses, without evidence, the FBI of corruption or flagrant incompetence.
Second is the emergence of an email exchange between Ms. Clinton and former secretary of state Colin Powell in which he explained that he used a private computer and bypassed State Department servers while he ran the agency, even when communicating with foreign leaders and top officials. Mr. Powell attempted last month to distance himself from Ms. Clinton’s practices, which is one of the many factors that made the email story look worse. Now, it seems, Mr. Powell engaged in similar behavior.
Last is a finding that 30 Benghazi-related emails that were recovered during the FBI email investigation and recently attracted big headlines had nothing significant in them. Only one, in fact, was previously undisclosed, and it contained nothing but a compliment from a diplomat. But the damage of the “30 deleted Benghazi emails” story has already been done.
Read the rest. It affirms what the Shareblue team has argued for the past year. And it further solidifies my belief that the email issue will ultimately be a stain on Hillary’s detractors, not on her.