Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New York Times Once Again Raises Concerns About Misleading Journalism

Another day, another misleading (or worse) piece from the esteemed Gray Lady.

This time our old friend Michael S. Schmidt, author of the original botched story on the Clinton emails, has joined forces with Amy Chozick, who made some waves of her own recently with an attempted smear of Hillary's incredible lifelong record as a women's rights advocate.

There's plenty to dismantle in their latest salvo regarding this non-scandal (so bear with me) but I'm not going to bury the lede because it's too important: They have just printed something that's gone beyond their usual misleading and into the realm of outright falsehood.

 It's near the very end, but it's there:
After the news conference, Mrs. Clinton’s office provided several new details about the email account and what she has provided to the State Department. More than 100 government officials knew about Mrs. Clinton’s use of private email, her office said. 
(The White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said Monday that President Obama exchanged emails with Mrs. Clinton, saw that she was using a personal account, but did not understand that her messages were not being made available to the government in some form.)
And here is the actual quote from Josh Earnest on Monday:
And the point that the President was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s email address -- he did -- but he was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act... 
But what is clear is that, as the President said in his interview, the emails that he sends are properly maintained, consistent with the Presidential Records Act -- and that, by the way, would be true of any emails that he received from his Secretary of State. And the reason I raise that is because Secretary Clinton’s team has pointed out, rightfully so, that a large number of the emails that they provided to the State Department in response to a request from her personal email system were already maintained on the State Department agency system. And the reason for that is she was emailing...State Department employees with email addresses, which meant that those email communications had been properly preserved and maintained.
Read it again: The Times is stating that "(President Obama) did not understand that her messages were not being made available to the government in some form."

This is demonstrably false, as we can see that Earnest said nothing of the sort. Therefore, this deserves an immediate correction.

Obviously, in keeping with recent tradition at the Times, there is more bad reporting to be found elsewhere.
Her confirmation that she and her aides had chosen which emails to make available to the State Department raised new concerns about Mrs. Clinton’s power to decide which records of her tenure as secretary would be available to congressional investigators, to journalists filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and to history.
First, these are not "new concerns" as this was brought up by Schmidt in his original piece over a week ago. However:
She said she had taken an “unprecedented” action in providing the State Department roughly 55,000 printed pages of emails, and pointed to other elected officials who use official and private emails, deciding themselves which belong on which account. 
“For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work related,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters. “I went above and beyond what I was requested to do.”
This seems like a pretty good explanation and the Times doesn't argue that Clinton is wrong here. In fact:
Indeed, nothing prohibited federal employees from using private accounts for work when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, although the practice was discouraged. But beginning in October 2009, 10 months after she took office, new regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration said agencies where employees were free to use private email systems “must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.” 
Mrs. Clinton’s emails were backed up on her personal server — not on a government one. But she argued that, because she had sent emails to “government officials on their State or other .gov accounts so that the emails were immediately captured and preserved,” she had complied with the rule. Mrs. Clinton did not address how emails she had sent to people outside the government had been preserved.
Emails to people outside the government? You mean to her family, friends and yoga instructor? Those would be the personal emails that had nothing to do with her job. Is the Times suggesting that these needed to be preserved as well? If so, they should explain why.

Also, if they are now hanging their case on whether using private email was simply "discouraged" or not...good luck with that.

Next, we get to a couple of required bits of meaningless innuendo, which I will respond to in a sarcastic manner that the New York Times might understand.
Mrs. Clinton’s explanation that it was more convenient to carry only one device seemed at odds with her remark last month, at a technology conference in Silicon Valley, that she uses multiple devices, including two kinds of iPads, an iPhone and a BlackBerry. She said then: “I don’t throw anything away. I’m like two steps short of a hoarder.”
The revelation that she might have bought an iPhone sometime in the past two years raises new concerns about her longtime allegiance to Blackberry. Additionally, her refusal to fully give up her longtime communication device (made famous in the Texts From Hillary meme) raises new concerns that she may actually be less than two steps from being a hoarder - perhaps only a step and a half - which may also raise future concerns among White House cleaning staff. 

At one point on Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton said the emails she had deleted contained “personal communications from my husband and me.” But on Sunday, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton told reporters that the former president had “sent two emails in his life.”
This actually raises two more new concerns: Either Mr. and Mrs. Clinton never once exchanged emails during her entire tenure as Secretary of State and she's lying about a minor point for some unknown reason, or the former President has a self-proclaimed hands-off approach to technology and instead has an aide read and type emails on his behalf. 

You can see where this stupidity is going: Nowhere.

But that doesn't keep the Times from ending their latest smear like so:
In 2007, Mrs. Clinton, then a senator from New York and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, accused the George W. Bush administration of using “secret White House email accounts” along with secret wiretaps and military tribunals. “ 
You know, our Constitution is being shredded,” she said at the time.
Is co-author Schmidt implying that Hillary Clinton is now the one shredding the Constitution because of the phony scandal that he himself kicked off last week? If so, I would point him to this definitive statement from...earlier in the same article:
"Indeed, nothing prohibited federal employees from using private accounts for work when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state..."
Oy vey.

Good work staying on the trail of your own damned tail, New York Times.

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