Monday, March 9, 2015

Busted: NYT Parsed Language in Clinton Email Story to Falsely Insinuate Violation of the Law

The Hillary Clinton email story might finally be fading from the headlines (and rightly so) but that doesn't mean that the New York Times is off the hook.

No...not just yet.

Here's why: The Times knew that Clinton didn't violate the Federal Records Act when their piece was written, but went ahead and made it seem like she did anyway. This was noted in my original post, but a week's worth of coverage has made their act of journalistic malpractice even more disturbingly clear.

Here is the entire second paragraph of Michael S. Schmidt's piece from last Monday, which suggested that Clinton violated the Federal Records Act, a very serious charge:
Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.
And here is another section, more towards the middle, which deals with different regulations in a different department.
Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records. 
But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.
Again, the latter sentence would seem to be incorrect. Interagency emails received from Clinton were preserved on the Department system at the time, and she has preserved and already turned over 55,000 pages of her own emails to the Department.

But that's another issue. Right now, what sticks out is the phrase "at the time". Did you notice where that phrase is in both of these sections? It's a very subtle parsing of language, but it's so important that it makes the most explosive charge in the Times' story entirely irrelevant.

Once again:
Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.
Catch that? This proves that the Times knew that she did not violate the Federal Records Act. The change to the law occurred in 2014, well after she left the State Department. Nevertheless, they are insinuating wrongdoing by careful placement of that three-word phrase.

In other words, she was in compliance with a certain law at the time she was Secretary of State. A couple of years after she left the position, this law changed. Therefore...what?

This sentence, while technically true, is blatantly misleading and should have never been included in the story to begin with. It prominently insinuated a violation of the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 even though they knew this wasn't the case.

How do we know this? Look at the second section again:
Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records.
These are the 2009 regulations that took effect while Clinton was already in office, making this an accurate statement. It also demonstrates that the Times does know how to properly place "at the time" in a sentence when they aren't trying to mislead the public.

However, since these regulations were apparently too weak to hang their whole story on, they included them somewhere in the middle and invoked the Federal Records Act near the beginning...even though they knew Hillary Clinton was in the clear.

Has anyone in the mainstream news media called them out on this obvious piece of journalistic malpractice yet? If not, now's the time....because this misleading smear from the New York Times could set a dangerous precedent for election coverage in 2016 and beyond.

We can't let them get away with it.

3 comments:

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  2. Progressives are for Elizabeth Warren. The power flow starts with MoveOn.org, Huffington Post and MSNBC. These three forces then push their progressive viewpoints onto other media. So perhaps you are a democrat moderate and don't realize it? Nothing wrong with that by the way. If you like I can list your blog on Daily PUMA, no charge.

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    1. I love Elizabeth Warren and hope she stays in the Senate for decades. She isn't running...and signed a letter encouraging Hillary to run. Hillary is a proud progressive, and that's a key reason why I support her. Obviously, anyone in the world is free to read Hillary HQ, but let's be clear: This is a progressive site. The PUMAs disowned me...which was totally fine...when I didn't support McCain after Hillary lost in '08. If for some reason Hillary is once again not the nominee (not bloody likely), I will once again fully support that Democrat. Just so we're clear.

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