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Sunday, October 23, 2016

As a professional matter, I’ve been halfway dreading Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. The 2016 Democratic nomination appears to be hers for the asking. Democrats enjoy a strong Electoral College advantage. And yet it’s hard to imagine how she can overcome the unrelenting hostility of the Washington media clique.

Try to imagine the New York Times and Washington Post teaming up with Fox News impresario Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. on an “exposé” of any other politician in Washington. Joe Conason wasn’t exaggerating much when he called it the “Hitler-Stalin Pact” of contemporary journalism.

The two newspapers agreed to “exclusive” arrangements with one Peter Schweizer, a right-wing operative and author of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The book’s publisher is HarperCollins, a News Corp subsidiary like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, etc.

Basically, we’re in Ann Coulter country here. Schweizer’s not a journalist, but a controversialist for right-wing “think tanks.” A former consultant to Sarah Palin and ghostwriter for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Glenn Beck, he makes his living vilifying Democrats. Media Matters has posted a long list of withdrawn or retracted stories under his byline.

Reporters for the British Sunday Times evaluated an earlier Schweizer book and found that “[f]acts that are checkable do not check out. Individuals credited for supplying information do not exist or cannot be tracked down. Requests to the author for help and clarification result in further confusion and contradiction.”

The New York Times, in contrast, praised the fellow’s “meticulous” reporting. All this in service of a front-page “blockbuster” by Jo Becker and Mike McIntire insinuating that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton sold out the national interest, helping a Russian company to buy uranium mines in Wyoming from a Canadian corporation in exchange for a few million dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation, the family’s charitable enterprise.

That and a $500,000 speaking fee awarded by a Moscow bank to the Big Cheese, her husband, the former president — a guy who’s been averaging $7.5 million a year making speeches.

“Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown” the Times concedes early on.

Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. The insinuation couldn’t be any clearer than if they’d hinted that Vladimir Putin was Hillary’s lover.

The diligent reader must persevere almost to the bottom of the murkily narrated 4,400-word story to learn that the uranium transaction had to be signed off on by all nine federal agencies comprising the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, that none apparently dissented, and that the State Department’s man on the committee stated, “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

Oh, and the Wyoming mines aren’t actually in operation, probably because the worldwide price of uranium has fallen following Japan’s Fukishima disaster. The Russians would probably sell them back, cheap.

No matter, it’s really all about what the Times calls “the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation.”

Besides Hillary and Putin, the story’s other suspicious character is Canadian mining executive and philanthropist Frank Giustra. Besides pledging half his income to good works such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative — bringing cheap HIV/AIDS drugs to 9.9 million people in Third World countries — Giustra’s other big sin was supposedly relying on Bill Clinton’s help to negotiate a multinational buyout of uranium mines in Kazakhstan.

Giustra has called the Times account arrant nonsense. He even provided a flight manifest to a Forbes reporter to prove that contrary to the newspaper, he didn’t take Bill Clinton with him to Kazakhstan at all. Moreover, as an extremely careful reader can determine, Giustra sold all of his Uranium One holdings in 2007 — two years before Hillary became Secretary of State — and so had nothing to gain from company’s 2010 transaction with the Russians.

Or from his charitable donations.

Giustra’s second suspect act was setting up something called the Canadian Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. That too seems to have confused the scandal-hunting reporters and their supporters on the Washington Post editorial page. See, even if there’s no evidence of a quid pro quo, the Post thundered, the Clinton Foundation had promised transparency while Hillary was in office.

“However, the Times said the contributions of some connected to the Uranium One deal were not disclosed. The newspaper unearthed them in Canadian tax records. This lapse is exactly the sleight of hand that creates suspicion… What were the Clintons hiding?”

Basically, as it turns out, the fact that Canada is a sovereign country whose laws prohibit such disclosures.

Look, there’s a reason articles like the Times’ big exposé are stultifyingly dull and require the skills of a contract lawyer to parse. Murky sentences and jumbled chronologies signify that the “Clinton rules” are back: all innuendo and guilt by association. All ominous rhetorical questions, but rarely straightforward answers.

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  • Theodora30

    I have a big problem with the term”Clinton rules” because these rules apply to any Democratic candidate whose personality does not suit them. One of the arguments against Hillary’s candidacy last time was that the media would not be fair to a Clinton – as if they would not treat other Democratic candidates unfairly.

    Al Gore was treated abominably, with the media willingly misquoting him to make him look like a liar. (For example Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet, but did play a huge role in its creation a not that voters deserved to know that). John Kerry was not treated quite as badly but by then the media had soured on Bush. Still when the Truthers accused him of lying about his war heroism the media did little to set the record straight, preferring instead to blame Kerry’s response – too late, not strong enough, anything to shift blame to him. Obama got the best treatment because they liked him. But even with Obama they did not express outrage at the Republicans for the Birthers – something they would have surely done if Democrats had used such egregious lies about the Republicans’ candidate.

    While I agree that the media’s treatment of the Clintons has been the worst, I believe that is because they were seen as usurpers from flyover land. But the problem will not go away if someone else is chosen to run. The media is too intimidated by Republicans and too wedded to appearing fair to conservatives to lie and distort facts about them the way they do with the Clintons, Gore and any other Demomcrat they dislike. For years Republicans have gotten their base to attack media outlets with charges of liberal bias and it has worked. It will keep happening until we push back.

    • Gene Lyons

      You know, “usurpers from flyover land” is the best brief description I’ve seen of the unrelenting malice both Clintons have faced from the DC press. Thank you.

      • Theodora30

        Actually I need to thank you. I happened to find your book “Fools for Scandal” when it first came out and it helped me make sense of what was going on. Like so many others I assumed there had to be something to the Whitewater charges since the NY Times and the Washington Post were driving the story. Yet somehow it did not ring true to me. Everyone seemed to agree that both Clintons were extremely smart but that they were not rich. It seemed that if money were so important to them that they would break the law they would already have become wealthy – being so diabolically clever, don’t cha know. But who was I to question the esteemed journalists at the Times and the Post? Your book helped me understand what was really going on. (Also “The Hunting of the Preident” ) Recent events show mainstream reporting has not improved.
        I have paid close attention over the years and have tried to understand what is behind so much biased reporting. It is not about liberal policies – the MSM fawned all over Bush II as a regular guy who would be more fun to have a beer with than boring ol’ Gore.
        Clearly many journalists and pundits are strongly influenced by a desire to be part of the Kool Kids Klub at Beltway High. Aligning themselevs with towel snapping frat boys (Bush II), or kids from elite families (Kennedy, Bush) increases their Koolness; being aligned with serious students (Gore, Kerry) or kids from the hinterlands (Carter the “peanut farmer”, “Bubba” Clinton) is the kiss of death. Being a Hollywood actor is such a plus that Fred Thompson was deemed glamorous! And Obama is the epitome of cool. Ditto for their idol JFK. One of the most blatant examples of bias in my opinion was the outrage expressed by the members of the JFK fan club – Tim Russert, Maureen Dowd and Chris Matthews to name a few – at Clinton’s dalliance with Monica. In contrast JFK’s much more numerous and reckless affairs (mob moll for one) did not diminish him in their eyes. Of course he was an elite East Coast guy so it must have seemed sophisticated for him to be so promiscuous. For Clinton it was proof he was white trash.
        Other factors also contribute to biased reporting. Faux balance in response to years of relentless criticism from the right, corporate ownership, increased affluence of journalists (check out how many went to private schools and colleges), the DC echo chamber, etc.
        It is particularly frustrating to me that so many Democrats get taken in by these media games. It is long past time they stopped being duped.

        • Gene Lyons

          My friend Bob Somerby, a Mick like me, has written quite a lot about Irish Catholic aspects of Clinton hatred. Anyway, thanks again for your kind words.

  • Dominick Vila

    From White Water, to claims of personal indiscretions that have never been raised during earlier presidencies, to Benghazi, and now the ridiculous e-mail gate, the only fact that should be obvious to everyone is that all the allegations made against the Clintons by the GOP are politically motivated and evidence of a party with such a dismal record and lack of vision that it has no choice but to rely on innuendo, lies, and hyperbole to remain a viable alternative.
    I think Hillary should have used U.S. government mediums to send and receive e-mails, but I take her at her word when she says that all work related e-mails have been turned over to the appropriate government institutions. Until evidence is provided to prove otherwise, her right to presumed innocence must be respected. As to the demand to turn over a private server to the government for examination, I believe that is a violation of our right to privacy, and evidence of dictatorial tactics. I think it is also important to point out that Hillary has agreed to a public hearing, and that the GOP prefers to do it behind closed doors.

    • itsfun

      Didn’t the obamacare health care tax get done behind closed doors, using bribes and whatever political pressure could be put on our elected officials? Her server should be turned over to the government. She had no right to use a “private server” to keep public documents and national security information on. This is not her right to privacy, those are public documents owned by us the citizens of this country. We can’t take her word that e-mails she deleted were personal. She doesn’t have the right to decide that. She could decide that a e-mail discussing Benghazi is personal. She could decide any e-mail that may show illegal actions or actions that hurt our country are personal. I couldn’t care less about her daughters wedding or things like that. She stated that many of the e-mails in question were to and from her husband. Meanwhile her husband has said he has only read or sent 2 e-mails in his whole life. We can’t afford to take any politician at their word anymore. Also, if this “private server” has only innocent actions on it what is the problem with having it examined.

      • bobnstuff

        Mr Snowden didn’t get any of her emails did he. If her server was at risk why don’t they just hack it and get what they want? Her server wasn’t built by the lowest bidder. They have had all of the emails dealing with this for years, Think about it. Every Email sent to a government employee is recorded. All her work emails went through those servers didn’t they so unless she violated the law planning a wedding they have everything they need. The House can’t pass real laws that work so they waste money with

        • Dominick Vila

          I spent 40 years at NASA. When I was on duty I always used government accounts, servers, routers, modems, and security systems to exchange messages. However, when I was off duty and I had to send a work related e-mail to a colleague from home, I used my AOL resources to do that. Like you said, the government had access to everything I sent and received regardless of where I sent it from and which resources I used.
          This whole thing is another witch haunt being used to distract voters and attack an opponent using distractions to hide the record and lack of vision of Hillary’s opponents.

          • itsfun

            When you are off work and send non-related email on your private server to from AOL or MSN or Firefox or whatever, the email only went to who you sent it to. If you don’t use the government resources, then your email didn’t go through government servers. Your own private network doesn’t go to work related servers unless you design it to.

          • Dominick Vila

            You are right. That means that if Hillary sent private e-mails to friends the government, theoretically, does not have any record of them. Do you have a problem with that? If yes, do you think all government officials, regardless of party affiliation, should surrender all their private correspondence?
            The only correspondence that Congress can subpoena are messages or items related to government functions and responsibilities. They have no business or authority requesting access to our private lives.

          • itsfun

            Dom: I mostly agree with you. I just don’t think we can allow a public official to be the final word on what is public and what is private. Public officials should not be doing any government business on a private server. If they do, then the whole server should be subject to subpoena by the government. Any official can say the info is personal (whether it is or not), then hide the documentation behind that. This is not a left, right, independent issue to me. When one decides to become a government official, they should be subject to a strict standard of public information. When they misuse the standards, they should be held accountable. Private servers should not be allowed for any kind of government information use.

          • dpaano

            You’re less intelligent than I ever gave you credit for….you need to read up on IT and the use of servers, etc.

          • itsfun

            I spent over 30 years as a data system analyst and IT security officer. i don’t need any lessons from you.

        • itsfun

          not necessary right. She had her own server the government didn’t know about. She can go through any private network she chooses. She could make up any userid she wanted to. Her emails would not go through government servers unless they were sent to her government id. Her id tells the senders email where to go. if her id was something like hillary at hillaryserver, that is where it would go, not to a government server.

          • dpaano

            Yes, but if she sent e-mails to government officials and State Dept. officials, it doesn’t matter what server they were sent from…their should be copies of those e-mails in the government’s server that handles those individuals that she communicated with.

          • itsfun

            thats right, but only if she sent e-mail to government officials and state dept officials. Not all of her e-mails went to government people though.

        • dpaano

          Exactly what I said earlier…..there should be records of all her e-mails to government officials, etc.

      • KarenSez


        • itsfun

          to answer your great response: blah-blah-blah-blah

      • johninPCFL

        Have you noticed that Condi Rice and Colin Powell did exactly the same thing? Yes, they used external servers for their email accounts, deleted emails from their accounts, and never provided them for archiving. During their service, our embassies were attacked dozens of times and over 30 embassy employees and staffers died.

        Where’s the outrage?

        • itsfun

          If they did that, then they should have been investigated also.

          • Dominick Vila

            They did, and nobody raised an eyebrow or, let alone, demand that they surrender personal items. BTW, most elected officials use cell phones and other electronic gadgets to text and send messages. Are they all going to be asked to surrender their personal property and the private messages they sent or received?

          • mike

            She ignored and violated the NARA 2009 and the earlier 2008 regulations and purposely ignored even Obama’s directive.

        • dpaano

          Not to mention that they quickly deleted all their e-mails so the Government couldn’t get to them…..interesting!

        • mike

          Stop the lying. Condi nor Colin had a personal servers like Hillary.


          Unfortunately for you pro-Hillary people, the regulations that are relevant to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements – have been in place since at least 2009, when Clinton became secretary of state.

          Section 1236.22 of the 2009 NARA requirements, “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record keeping system.”

          In short, the State Department was required to ensure that Secretary Clinton’s emails, including those on personal accounts, were preserved in an agency record-keeping system. The failure to ensure such preservation would therefore be in violation of the federal requirements. All of Clinton’s emails would be required by the 2008 definition from NARA that defines federal records as “documentary materials that agencies create and receive while conducting business that provide evidence of the agency’s organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and operations, or because they contain information of value.”

    • mike

      You said, “allegations against the Clintons by the GOP are Politically motivated”, what brilliant statement!! It’s politics, stupid!!! Go look at the latest Rasmussen and see what people are thinking of her. It’s not that great.
      Those servers were no longer private when she communicated with State Department personnel and other govt. agencies. All emails belong to the Fed. Govt., period. Produce the servers if she is so innocent. Pretty simple, Dom, turn over the server. She broke the rules and regulations of not only the NARA but also ignored the request of Obama to use Govt. servers.

      • dpaano

        IF she communicated with State Dept. personnel and other government agencies, then her e-mails should be on THEIR servers…..easy to find!

        • mike

          More of your faulty thinking. You don’t know who else she communicated with, from foreign officials to private individuals. She deleted emails without approval of NARA as stated in their regulations.
          If you had an ounce of honesty you would demand she turn over her personal server.
          What you totally ignore is the NARA regulations that were in place that stated all emails, personal or official, are the property of the U.S. govt..

  • bobnstuff

    The republicans are just putting more grass in front of the sheep and they will eat it up. The masses love a scandal, true or false, they love it. Don’t let the facts get in the way. The truly sad part in all this is few will ever read the book. They will get the “facts” from places like Fox and the blogs. No one wants to read more then 120 words anymore. Sheep to be lead around by the goats.

    • TZToronto

      Actually, it’s 140 characters. The typical attention span is way less than 120 words.

    • Dominick Vila

      The GOP understands, better than we do, that facts are irrelevant, and that what determines the outcome of elections is perception. The have put together a disinformation apparatus that is second to none when it comes to effectiveness, and they use it time and again to win elections in spite of their record and lack of vision. Now that I have exceeded the 140 character limit assimilated by the average Republican I will close by saying that their electioneering strategies and tactics are second only to the naivete of the so called “conservatives”.

  • Beawild

    Ahhhh NYT, how low you have fallen. You are no longer “The Gray Lady” that inspired respect and was considered to be the national newspaper of record. Now you are rolling in the same muck as any Murdoch publication.

  • Humble Ed

    I am glad to see your post is thoroughly covered in Bob Somerby’s excellent blog, the Daily Howler. He obviously likes your work, but he did use some of your commenters
    to demonstrate his theory that liberals are basically dumb and willing to ignore that it is the unwritten guild rules of our media at work here and not the vast right wing conspiracy.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    And the pile of GOP BS grows ever higher. The NY Post almost daily bashes Hillary. Why? Because the NY Post is billionaire Zuckerberg’s empire and he knows that the income inequality in the US has gone as far as it can go without someone beating his butt on his own doorstep. The reality is that 2016 is going to be what the GOP has always dreamed of …revenge for Clinton stealing GHWB’s 2nd term. So you can just bet every Adelson, Zuckerberg, Koch and Murdoch billionaire has to pile pile pile it on…in the billions if necessary to buy JEB for the White House to get even with former President Clinton.

    Too bad the number of women in the US population aren’t falling for the male bash fest. Most of us are already bored to hell with the daily serving by men in the US who will han their testicles on a wash line before they’ll allows ANY woman to have authority than them. No matter how much denial they allow themselves to wallow in.

  • dpaano

    The conservative right is really running scared….they KNOW they won’t be able to put a Republican in office as president in 2016! We’re getting too smart for them!