If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times … Hillary Clinton told the media not just once but several times that her secret e-mail server did not transmit or store sensitive or classified information.
The Clinton e-mail story broke in March when The New York Times provided the first public notice that the former Secretary of State had exclusively used a personal server for her electronic communications rather than an official and secured government e-mail system – a fact that only came to light through a congressional investigation into the sacking of our consulate in Benghazi.
For four years, the State Department had told Congress and federal courts reviewing FOIA petitions that Secretary Clinton had sent no e-mails responsive to their demands, thanks to the subterfuge of Clinton’s system and the obstruction of legitimate oversight that it produced.
Once The Times exposed Clinton’s unauthorized e-mail system, the rest of the national media pursued the story with surprising vigor, a level more associated with alleged Republican misconduct. In a press conference five days later, Clinton faced the most skeptical media scrutiny she had received in years. When reporters wondered how a Secretary of State and her high-ranking aides could conduct State Department business on an unsecured and unauthorized e-mail system without violating laws regarding the handling of sensitive and classified material, Clinton insisted that the issue had never come up.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone one my email,” Clinton insisted. “There is no classified email.” Furthermore, to questions about the kind of security applied to keep hackers and foreign intelligence services from gaining access to her communications, Clinton offered up a non-sequitur that demonstrated her lack of competence on the subject. “Well, the system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office,” she replied, “and it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service, and there were no security breaches.”
The question didn’t relate to physical security, however; it was a question of security against hackers, not burglars. Authorized government systems have significant security safeguards against electronic intrusion, but subsequent revelations showed that Clinton and her team didn’t even bother to use basic encryption techniques for months – and that was the least of the security issues. Gawker’s Sam Biddle reported on the lack of effort applied to security even before the presser, with their analysts aghast at the recklessness of Clinton’s approach.
For a while, at least, they weren’t alone in that assessment. The national media stayed on the scandal as the Clinton campaign kept arguing that it had become old news. The media scrutiny intensified when two Inspectors General from the intelligence community determined that two e-mails on the system contained Top Secret and Compartmented information, among the highest classifications that exist. They kept track as the State Department released the Clinton server e-mails under court order while redacting them to block classified information from exposure. When the FBI began and then intensified its probe into the Clinton server, the media kept their attention on it as well…for a while.
This week, though, the media appeared curiously incurious about the latest tranche of e-mails from the Clinton server. In the largest release yet, State unveiled 7,800 pages of e-mails, of which 328 e-mails were redacted for containing classified information. ABC News dutifully reported on that addition to the refutation of Clinton’s claims, and noted that the number of e-mails that contained classified information has reached 999 in total – with about a third of the communications left unpublished for now.
Oddly, though, the media outlet that broke the story didn’t seem interested in pursuing that aspect of it. The New York Times report on the latest tranche didn’t bother to mention that any e-mails had been classified. Its lead on the release instead noted that one e-mail which had been previously considered classified had been declassified for this release…which presumably kept Clinton from hitting 1,000 refutations to her claims.
The rest of the media didn’t take much more of an interest in the implications of this development, either. Most of the focus fell on Philippe Reines’ effort to get advice from the NFL for Clinton’s “cracked head,” as she self-effacingly described her concussion and its aftermath. Others found it amusing that Clinton was a fan of the TV series Homeland but didn’t recall which channel to watch for it. Very few news outlets found it newsworthy that the number of classified messages had jumped nearly 50 percent with this release, and none pondered what that meant to Hillary Clinton’s credibility.
This lack of interest seems to be of a piece with the narrative that emerged in late October, after the Democrats’ first presidential debate and Clinton’s testimony to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. They rushed to declare that time frame “the best ten days of the Clinton campaign,” even though as Marco Rubio pointed out in a subsequent debate , the testimony actually demonstrated that Clinton lied about Benghazi.
In an e-mail uncovered in the scandal, she told her family within hours of the attack on the consulate that it was an organized terrorist operation, while insisting for the next two weeks that it was a spontaneous demonstration in response to an obscure YouTube video.
Still, ever since then the narrative has had Clinton recovering her bearings and moving past the e-mail scandal even as the FBI probe continues and more classified information is redacted. The collective yawn from the media after this week’s release gives us an indication of the level of media interest we can expect, as Hillary Clinton gets closer to the nomination. They want to keep that narrative going rather than look at the thousand ways Clinton lied about her e-mail system and risked national security in order to thwart legitimate oversight into the State Department’s performance.
Just imagine the media’s curiosity if Clinton actually won the election. Perhaps the best reason to vote Republican in 2016 is to allow the media to resume its stated mission of holding government accountable and holding the powerful responsible for their actions.