Progressives Must Push Back on Media’s Witch Hunt in Clinton Email Saga or Risk Losing the Election

It is not a secret that conservatives not only hate the Clinton’s, they loathe them. Their history of such hatred dates back to President Clinton’s governorship in Arkansas and throughout his presidency. When Hilary Clinton lost the 2008 presidential nomination to President Obama, it was a given within Democratic circles that Mrs. Clinton will be in line to run again at the end of Obama’s presidency. It is equally a given that when she does run, her right wing detractors will be back in full force to do all they can to oppose her candidacy. What most liberals and progressives did not envision was that the media in general, (including progressive leaning ones, like the New York Times, MSNBC, The Washington Post, etc.) will join her right wing haters in carrying out their dirty work.

When Hilary Clinton left the State Department after serving as secretary for four years, she had one of the highest rating of any cabinet member of the Obama administration. But as soon as she declared her candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination, the “vast right wing conspiracy” sprang into action, with their misinformation, half-truths and several hate-induced campaigns they’ve devised to attack her. Prior to the end of her tenure at the State department and following the attack on a US Consular outpost in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, Congress carried out several investigations into safety and security issues that allowed for the attach to be carried out. Congressional Republicans were in unison in their conspiratorial belief that the attack occurred because she failed or did something wrong as head of the State Department to avert the attack. After eight separate investigations, including one independent, the general conclusion was that there was no intelligence failure and no stand down order issued to CIA as previously alleged.

However, even with such conclusive reports, most of which were led by Republican House and Senate committees, the outgoing Speaker of the House, John Boehner, nonetheless announced a special select committee to investigate the Benghazi incident yet again just as the 2016 presidential race was about to begin. Most political watchers saw this as a political action aimed at Secretary Clinton. This investigation has lasted almost a year and half and it is now the longest running investigation in congressional history, more than Watergate, etc. The Committee deliberately and unnecessarily dragged out the investigation to extend into the presidential election calendar in the hopes of hurting the chances of Secretary Hilary Clinton. At the time, Republicans swore their motives were purely “in pursuit of the truth”. Last week, however, the House Majority leader and front runner to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, let it slip in an interview with Fox News, that the Select Committee was set up to bring depress Hilary Clinton’s poll numbers and thus hurt her chances of winning the democratic party’s nomination for the 2016 presidential election. And true to that stated purpose, the only achievement of the committee has been to create a furor about Hilary’s use of a personal email on a personal server. As soon as this was leaked by the committee, along with conspiracy theories floated by some Republican members, the media somehow made the email issue their cause celebre’ and have actively pushed those false narratives and conspiracy theories advanced by the Republicans operatives.

Anyone familiar with American politics will not be surprised that Republicans are engaged in a crass partisan political attack on a democratic opponent, (although it is outrageous that they will do so with tax payer’s money to the tune of $4m and counting, and that they will do so callously, in the name of the four diplomats who were killed in the Benghazi attack). What is surprising, however, is the intensity with which media outlets, particularly the mainstream media, including liberal and progressive leaning ones, have pursued this republican led witch hunt as if it is an objective media story. I have written about the absurdity of the email story before. (See my August 19, 2015 post titled “Why is the Beltway Media Fixated on Clinton’s Email”). What I want to highlight in this piece is the lack of objectivity on the part of the media in pursuing it as a legitimate story. Anyone with a minimal sense of political judgment could have seen what the Republicans were up to with the so-called Select Committee. Also, it should have been very transparent for anyone to see that the only investigation the Committee have done in a year and a half was to leak information about the secretary’s email and nothing else.

Hilary Clinton was not the first Secretary of State to use personal email, nor is she the only one to route her email through a personal server. I am not going to defend the secretary for the choice she made in deciding to use personal email on a personal server. As she herself has now acknowledged, it would have been better if she simply used the government email via the department server. However, in the end, how email is sent and received is both a technical and/or logistical issue, hardly one that a cabinet secretary of a large bureaucratic department should be judged. In light of this, it has been very surprising to see the amount of energy and time that the media has devoted to covering this issue. It is indeed masterful of the Republicans who, according to Majority leader, McCarthy, strategized and executed this. They dangled the email as a bait for the media and they fell for it hook and sinker.

The mainstream media’s failure of judgment on this issue is epic. As they latched on to the Republican’s master plan with the email drumbeat as if the Secretary had committed a treasonable offense, naturally her poll numbers continued to fall. Yet, these same individuals and media outlets will dedicate huge segments of their coverage, wondering out loud why her favorability among the public is plummeting. And since the media always like to make every contest one of a saint versus a villain, they characterized the Secretary as untrustworthy and a liar, and suddenly they found a Saint in her Democratic Party opponent, Bernie Sanders. I have nothing against Senator Bernie Sanders. However, any serious analysis of his chances in the general election against a mainstream Republican opponent will put it at less than optimal, no matter what the polls say 15 months before the election. The same applies to the rumors that the sitting vice president, Joe Biden is seriously contemplating entering the race. Again, I have nothing against the vice president, but his chances only looks good for now when he has yet to make a decision. The moment he does, it will become clear that his chances are no better than that of Bernie Sanders and in my opinion significantly less than that of Hilary Clinton.

Hilary Clinton may not be the perfect candidate. Clearly she is not, and no one has ever been. One thing that any objective analysis of her will show, however, is that she is the most qualified among all candidates in the Democratic Party to succeed president Obama. Her record of service demonstrates that and at this point in our democracy, her gender makes her a prime candidate for the office. As liberals and progressives, we sometimes take our success for granted. After the successful two-term presidency of Bill Clinton, progressives took things for granted. We allowed our allegiances to be divided between the Party’s flag bearer, Al Gore and purely idealistic, albeit well meaning, Ralph Nader, thus allowed a clearly winnable election to be decided by partisan Supreme Court judges in favor of George W. Bush. We all know how that turned out. History will repeat itself if we adopt the same lackadaisical attitude this time around. The idea that progressives are clamoring for Vice President Biden to run is probably manufactured and I won’t put it past the handy work of right-wing operatives. I think it has arisen ostensibly because we have allowed the media to define our candidates and to sell us on the idea that ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good’. Hilary is not perfect, but she is more competitive and better positioned to win. Sadly, the presidential election/debates are now run by corporate media, including the so-called liberal media. We need to wake up and challenge their misinformed narratives. The American public is more with us on the issues than they are with the conservatives. If we want the progressive gains that president Obama has achieved over the past years to continue and not rolled back, then we must do more to make sure, Hilary Clinton is our nominee for she is the only one in the current political race that can defeat whoever the Republicans put forward as their nominee.

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