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Big Holes In AP Report On Hillary’s ‘Homebrew’ Email System

Editor's Blog

Big Holes In AP Report On Hillary’s ‘Homebrew’ Email System

Photo: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 2014 Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, IA. (Gregory Hauenstein/Flickr)

Have you heard about that mysterious, vaguely sinister “homebrew” email server located in the Clinton family’s suburban New York home? That was yesterday’s big revelation by the Associated Press, repeated everywhere, evidently without further reporting or checking by outlets both here and abroad. The headline: “Clinton Ran Own Computer System for Her Official Emails.”

Now that’s a very hot story — but is it true? Several very large holes have now appeared in that tale – and the usually reliable AP seems to have quietly abandoned the most incriminating assertions in a rewritten version.

Today’s Daily Banteran online publication I would recommend, by the way – carries a sharp post by Bob Cesca dismantling the AP story. As Cesca points out, the AP’s original lede indicated that Clinton was “physically running her own email” via a “computer server” located in “her family’s home” in Chappaqua, NY. But by the fourth graf, the AP story conceded: “It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.”

Moreover, Cesca reports, the AP seems to have misinterpreted the registration documents that formed the basis of its story – and the location of the Clinton email server is most likely to be found at Optimum Online, an Internet service provider owned by Cablevision in nearby Stamford, Connecticut. Not as sexy as that secretive basement setup in Chappaqua, but a lot more plausible. The Banter post names all the eager beavers, at outlets ranging from Gizmodo to Breitbart and the Washington Post, who broke out with indignant riffs on the AP’s “scoop.”

Cesca’s full post is well worth reading, and serves as fresh warning of what we ought to have learned from all the previous cycles of “Clinton scandal”: Withhold judgment until all the facts are available, and don’t immediately believe everything you read, even in news sources that normally appear trustworthy. The Clinton Rules are back — which in journalism means there are no rules at all.

Photo: Gregory Hauenstein via Flickr

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. Dominick Vila March 6, 2015

    The best thing we can all do, until all the details are available and we have a better understanding of what happened, is to reserve judgment. Unfortunately for Hillary, even if an investigation exonerates her, what voters are going to remember are not her academic credentials, or her record as Senator and Secretary of State, but Benghazi and e-mail/gate. It really does not matter if we learn that the server she used for classified information was at the State Department, it will make no difference whatsoever if the e-mails, or texts, that she sent and received were of a private or of a non-sensitive nature. Hearing Republicans voice outrage because Hillary, allegedly, ignored President Obama’s call for transparency, which included among other things the need to communicate via official mediums, to make the information available for Congressional and public scrutiny, would have been hilarious, if it had not been so cynical. The reason for this latest political attack was to raise doubts about her judgment, which is unquestionably one of the most important considerations when people vote for a presidential candidate.
    Unable to run on their record, on their policies, or lack of vision, the only recourse left for the not so “Grand” Old Party is to destroy political opponents using whatever means are necessary. That is exactly what the GOP is doing to Hillary. They are not targeting policies, they are targeting the candidate (s), the persona, and they are doing with great effectiveness…and impunity.

    1. ericlipps March 6, 2015

      I’m afraid you’re right. Where the Clintons are concerned, too often mere accusations are taken as proof of guilt. The attitude seems to be that Hillary (or Bill) must be guilty of something, so if nothing is found that just proves there was a cover-up.

      Nobody can some out clean from that sort of investigation, where absence of evidence of a crime is taken as proof that one was committed.

      1. Dominick Vila March 7, 2015

        The same is true for the ridiculous Fast and Furious, IRS, and Benghazi “scandals”. The fact that investigations, and plain logic, tell us that there were no basis for those claims, a lot of Americans remain convinced that something horrible happened. The same is true for the focus on less than one percent of individual policy holders having to upgrade their policies because they did not meet minimum ACA standards. Instead of looking at it positively, the GOP managed to convince a naive electorate that President Obama lied and something terrible had been inflicted on us. Even the $770B MEDICARE savings, achieved in part by greater oversight, elimination of duplication, and the introduction of efficiencies was turned into evidence of President Obama dismantling MEDICARE and denying seniors the coverage they needed. The most perplexing, and disturbing part of all this, is that a large percentage of our population accepts this garbage, and that Democratic strategists are not capable of presenting the truth in a convincing way.

        1. ericlipps March 7, 2015

          P.T. Barnum had it right: there’s a sucker born every minute. So did Abraham Lincoln when he said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time.” The GOP has gotten pretty good at fooling the people, and some of the people, of course, depend on Fox News for their “information” about the world.

          1. Dominick Vila March 7, 2015

            The saddest part of issues such as the need the find a satisfactory agreement on the development of nuclear weapons with Iran, is that many of the opponents can’t find Iran on a world map, and their notion of Persia is limited to a breed of kitty cats.

          2. upickapro March 7, 2015

            Oh, boy! You have just revealed that YOU believe everything the Democrats tell you, koolaid-drinker! It was not Abraham Lincoln who said that. It was Jacques Abbadie in 1684.
            And, it was not P.T. Barnum but David Hannum who coined “There’s a sucker born every minute!”.

            The fact that you are ZERO for TWO really demonstrates for me that the Democratic Party has gotten pretty good at fooling the people, and some of the people, of course, depend on MSNBC for their “information” about the world. Ahem.

            The truth is that there is a sucker born every minute and, as if we dont have enough suckers already, the Democratic Party wants to import illegal immigrant suckers from other countries to ensure there are enough low-information idiots to keep the Democrats in power. So, congrats, you now have more pricing competition for housing, for jobs, for Social Security…….and when THEY become a majority and become elected you shall see that they will ‘wise up’ and disenfranchise you the same way Zimbabwe is doing with their White Afrikaaner farmers.

          3. ericlipps March 7, 2015

            Not so fast.

            At least according to Wikipedia, it’s not clear just who first said there’s a sucker born every minute, although it has indeed been
            attributed to, among others, P. T. Barnum. David Hannum’s uthorship can’t be taken for granted.

            Likewise, the Lincoln quote has legitimately been attributed to him, though it does not appear in the version of the speech from which it’s supposed to have come which was printed in the local newspaper. Apparently you’re willing to trust the media’s accuracy when it suits your purposes. (And yes, I know that the Illinois Historical Society disputes the quote, but only by saying
            that its researchers can find no contemporary written documentation that he said it—which brings us back to the media.) According to the Netscape article I found on the subject, it was attributed to Lincoln many years after the fact by two individuals who remembered hearing him say it—which doesn’t constitute proof that he didn’t say it.

            In any event, aren’t you kind of rushing to avoid the point? Which, just to be clear, isn’t who actually uttered these two quotes but how easily people can be duped by the unscrupulous. One might almost suspect you were trying to dupe people yourself.

    2. upickapro March 7, 2015

      Reserve judgment?!?!?!? You mean, like we have to pass it before we find out what is in it?!?!?!?!? You mean it is not fair to call her out to be accountable because it is before she gets away with stealing an election under false pretenses. We should wait until AFTER she is elected……or would you then use the excuse “Why did you wait until now? Clearly, your motives are political!”. See? Always an excuse. We elected a POTUS because we reserved judgment until it was too late. He was sneaky like Hillary and he hid his school transcripts, embellished his job titles, hid his socialist upbringing, had ghostwritten and fictional books written, ahem, by him……..and the American public still does not know with 100% certainty whether Obama was qualified to be POTUS based upon his technical citizenship or whether he is a socialist and either Muslim or Christian. I have reserved judgment of 6 years……..and I still don’t know……and Obama still is no closer to wanting to prove it. Cheats are not going to show their hand unless it is forced.
      And, by the way, Dominic Vila, it is the Democratic Party that is crucifying one of their own, Bob Menendez, for not running in lock-step with Obama. The GOP is not manufacturing charges against Clinton out of thin air: She is an executive administrator: It is her job as chief to make sure that laws are followed……..yet she did not follow her own directives so stop blaming the GOP for her own violations. Submarine commanders and retail employees get sacked for much lesser violations than this: Clinton jeopardized American interests and lives through her arrogant violation of laws: Clinton Lied: Ambassador Stevens Died. Clinton was an arrogant Junior Varsity player over her head on an unencrypted mail server surrounded by world-class statesman rife with hacking squads. Brilliant!

      1. Dominick Vila March 7, 2015

        No, I mean waiting until an official investigation, and a deposition from Hillary Clinton, are available to know the details of what happened. Jumping into conclusion based on claims made by the media, without proof or evidence of what happened is not advisable, for both her supporters and her detractors.

  2. FT66 March 6, 2015

    I am not listening to all nonsense of Hillary using private email account. It is all about witchhunt because she intends to run for President. She left the Office as Secretary of State few years ago, nobody cared to find out how she was operating. If there wasn’t any sign of her running for the Higher Office, would anyone care on this issue? I do not think so. We all know republicans are out with sharp knives to kill her candidacy even before she announces she is in or not. We Dems are not stupid. We all understand the whole conspiracy. We will remain united, behind her, supporting her, no matter what.

    1. upickapro March 7, 2015

      “We Dems are not stupid…..We are just blind lemmings willing to be led over the cliff and vote as we are trained by our union overlords”. Im so sorry, FT66, that you admit that you have no independent thought or morals to the extent that you would admit to voting for a politician ‘no matter what’…..even if she were found to be a lying, corrupt criminal.
      Yes, she left the State Department a couple years ago but her deception and subterfuge has been so pervasive that it has taken two Congressional Committees and all this time to finally figure out what is going on.
      Let me ask you a question: How would you feel if your spouse or bookkeeper kept things secret and yet, while the country is suffering, she is getting rich? Wouldnt you be suspicious? Wouldnt you wonder why she is being so deceptive and hypocritical…..especially when she tells you that you cannot have a private email and you must account for your spending and time but she does not?!?! Just because you are a Democrat doesnt mean you are not allowed to think for yourself: The union stewards are no longer allowed to beat you into submission. Stop enriching the Clintonistas. Think about it: If the Dem leaders like Edward Kennedy, Al Gore, Clintons, Obamas11

      1. FT66 March 8, 2015

        Right from the beginning we made our choice that she is the only one. Polls after polls have shown so. The allegations which are coming now are all about politics. Each side will continue the digging out of dirties. Thats fine. I don’t think there is any single candidate in either Party who is as clean as water. NO ONE.

  3. Godzilla March 6, 2015

    I actually hope this story is true. I have some experience with Mr. Cesca, he’s not what I would call an honest person. Just another Left Wing hack. But, if “MOST LIKELY” turns out correct, then that’s great!

  4. upickapro March 7, 2015

    Joe Conason is just another liberal operative employing spintalk and
    moral fallacies to get people to ‘throw out the baby with the bath
    water’. Remember OJ Simpson’s lawyer who came up with that fancy rhyme
    about water-shrunken gloves saying “Ignore all the other solid evidence,
    motive and blood because ‘If the glove don’t fit then you must
    acquit'”. Imagine if we could throw out any criminal enforcement
    against rape if only one minor point was mistaken: “Sorry, but it was
    polyester and not jute rope that the victim was tied up with so the
    rapist is acquitted. To quote Hillary: “WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE”
    (whether it was a server in her home or elsewhere)?!?!?!?! She STILL did
    not use the State Department servers so, Joe Conason, STFU: You bring
    more confusion than clarity to the situation.

    Conason is just trying to confuse and distract people without any actual
    facts. He doesnt know where the server is. It may very well be in
    Clinton’s walk-in closet along with all the other skeletons or it might
    be in Raqqa, Syria at the office of the Syria Electronic Army or it
    could be in a Swiss bank account. Whilst intriguing it is beside the
    point. Conason wants to distract you so that you forget the most
    important points:

    A. Hillary Clinton did something wrong.

    B. Hillary Clinton KNEW it was wrong but she imperiously did it anyway.

    C. Hillary remonstrated staff to not use private emails but then she did it anyway.

    D. Hillary KNOWINGLY hid her emails from the Congressional committees.

    E. When the ruse was finally uncovered she decided to filter out emails she did not want them to see.

    Hillary employed a long and pervasive practice of evading transparency
    and accountability by using private email, text messaging and using
    third-parties for communicating.

    G. Hillary used her position as
    SoS to enrich herself and family and our enemies at the expense of the
    American people and our allies.

    Bottom-line: Hillary and Bill are both crooks that have been bilking us by putting their own enrichment and egos ahead of their patriotic duty to the American public
    and she is not qualified to be POTUS. Other liars and egomaniacs like
    Kerry, Warren, Gore, Biden, Edwards, Christie, Cuomo are likewise just
    as dishonest and corrupt. Throw them all out. Hillary = Imelda Marcos =
    Christina Kirchner = Evita Peron = Michelle Obama = Marie Antoinette =
    Salome’: These women, one and all, would walk all over you given the
    chance. We’re not in high school anymore voting the popular and pushy
    kids just so we will be accepted. During the coming election don’t be
    so primitive to vote for a letter, a color or a gender. Instead, vote
    for honesty, integrity, transparency, patriotism, intelligence,
    self-made and a commitment to American jobs, American businesses,
    American-made and American safety. Chinese think ‘Chinese First’.
    Russia thinks ‘Russia First’. Time for the POTUS to think ‘America

  5. Cedrick Morano March 17, 2016

    Practical ideas ! Speaking of which , if someone is searching for a PA LLC-25 , my business came across a blank document here http://goo.gl/iffnfN


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