Ever since it was revealed that former Secretary of State, Hilary Rodam Clinton used her personal email to conduct State's business instead of using the one provided by the State Dept., the beltway media has been unusually fixated with the story. On its surface, it is a simple case of a cabinet level employee deciding, as she stated, to use her personal email for purposes of convenience. She is not the first or only appointee of that office to do so. Past Secretaries of State like Colin Powell, and Condoleza Rice also used their personal email to conduct State's business albeit to a lesser degree than HRC. There is also the fact that Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rick Perry all used personal emails. Jeb Bush also had an email server throughout his 8 years as governor of Florida State and yet we have not seen the media go after these men the same way they've gone after Secretary Clinton. There are other inconsequential details as to agreements she had with the White House regarding disclosure of the Clinton Foundation's donor list and how that was done to avoid conflicts of interest, yada, yada, yada. But those are issues of process and does not get to the real meat of the issue.
We know the right wing media have vested interest in any story that paints any Democratic presidential candidate and Secretary Clinton in particular, in a bad light. As such, it is not surprising that conservative media outlets have made it their 'cause celebre' to keep the issue on news headlines till election day. The surprise however is that respective news media outlets, including left leaning New York Times and Washington Post have been caught spending their investigative energies chasing after the story. A week or two ago, the New York Times went further and erroneously reported that a criminal investigation is under way. When the truthfulness of that reporting was challenged, it took them several iterations and days to correct and/or retract the story.
The real issue here is how the press, often called the fourth estate or the fourth branch of government, is spending much energy on such minor issue while important news goes unreported. Is there a law that the former secretary has broken by using personal email? I am not talking about debating the fine points of the State Department bureaucratic minutia here, or what the Federal Records Acts say or not say. Thus far, the State department has said she didn't do anything improper or broken any law. Yes, there was an amendment to the Federal Records act in 2014, but that was after she'd already left office and the Act, as amended, does not apply to her. And let's also stipulate here that four previous holders of the office used private email, albeit they did not have their own private servers.
What is disturbing here is that since this story broke or gained traction six months ago, no one, not even the do-nothing congressional Republicans, who have been on perpetual Benghazi investigation, has come up with any specific charge for what she did wrong with the emails. Other than using this for political purposes, there's no public benefit for the attention that has been focused on this case in the beltway media. I fell like we are now in a situation where the Republican party, by playing their obstructionist role, has conditioned the press to chase after whatever conspiracy theories they come up with. The media and the beltway press in particular has unwittingly gone along with this to satisfy their false notion of equivalence. To compensate for the charge, by conservatives, of liberal bias in the media, beltway journalists are forced to overcompensate when reporting on stories involving liberals, in order to appear "balanced". Clearly, this is nothing but false equivalence for there is nothing newsworthy about continuing to chase a news story without relevance just to appear "balanced". How emails are structured is a process and logistics question that every business and government bureaucracy handles without any fanfare and does not rise up to the critical public interest that members of the fourth estate are charged to protect.
While these supposed protectors of the fourth estate waste their precious time chasing gossip, and score-settling so-called news, a significant segment of the Republican party have been hijacked by an ego-maniacal narcissist, who now have as one of his agenda, the evisceration of the provisions of the fourteenth amendment. He has largely gone unscathed with no one asking probing questions and demanding answers with evidence. Instead of asking hard-hitting questions about why anyone will ever run a campaign to nullify a key provision of the constitution, the beltway media seem to have lost their collective minds and are instead resigned to letting this guy, Donald Trump, dictate what now passes as the leading news agenda of the day. Today, Chris Mathews of MSNBC even went as far as admiring the way he handles media by being dismissive of their questions, chastising some, for the kind of questions they ask him. He went as far as questioning why the other candidates are not as "media savvy" as Mr. Trump is. In my opinion, that's a disgraceful performance by a journalist.
The role of the media as members of the Fourth Estate is to represent the interest of the people in relation to business and political elites who claim to be doing things in the interest of the public. They are supposed to play the role of civil watch dogs, keeping an eye on those in power and/or those who seek to hold powerful offices. To abdicate that role and allow an individual, no matter how media savvy he or she may be, to dictate the public agenda is a betrayal of public trust.