While Donald Trump’s antics are now receiving the bulk of the media coverage, reporters are also speaking out about how Hillary Clinton is interfering with the public’s right to know. Last month Carol Lee, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, argued that both Trump and Clinton are a threat to press freedom. This week Politico pointed out how Hillary Clinton is bucking tradition in limiting press access:
Think Donald Trump is the only candidate sidelining the press? Think again.
The Republican’s media blacklist, complaints about unbalanced coverage, and accusations that veteran reporters are simply fabricators have drawn the most vocal condemnation from the Washington press corps. But his stiff-arming has given Hillary Clinton an out that the media-wary candidate and her staff are just as ready to exploit.
First the Clinton press conferences and gaggles became rare. Now, the Trump campaign’s foot-dragging in allowing a basic press pool – a group of reporters that share travel duty to cover public events and minimize the logistics burden on the campaign – has given Clinton cover to not institute a protective pool, which would cover the candidate’s every move and ride on the campaign plane in the same way the White House press pool does and which typically begins when the candidates becomes the party’s official nominee.
One reporter covering the campaign said Clinton campaign officials directly cited Trump’s lack of a formal pool operation as part of the reason they have yet to set up a protective pool. Other reporters covering the Democratic nominee describe the situation as frustrating and “unlike anything in the past.”
“It’s a false equivalency,” said the Washington Post’s Anne Gearan, who is part of a team chairing the Clinton press pool for the remainder of the election but noted she did not know why the Clinton campaign hadn’t allowed a protective pool yet. “We’re advocating for access for the Clinton press pool. Whatever Trump does is immaterial as far as we’re concerned.”
The 2016 cycle marks the longest a candidate has gone without a protective press pool for the last three elections. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama’s coverage started in June, Sen. John McCain’s in July, as the Huffington Post noted last month. In 2012, Mitt Romney received protective pool coverage in early August (that year the Republican convention was held the last week of August)…
“From the Clinton side of it, certainly we have concerns that she is starting out with print organizations at a level of remove that is concerning to us,” Gearan said. “There are certain institutional norms that are in place at the White House for the way press access is treated. Those are not by right or law, they are as a result of negotiations and custom over a considerable amount of time. We certainly hope at this point in time there’s no consideration by the Clinton campaign that if she becomes president, she’d relax or go back on any of the current set of accommodations that are provided to the press in the White House.”
Another fear is that Clinton’s avoidance of the press as a candidate will extend to her presidency, assuming she wins in November. Clinton has a long history of opposing government transparency, along with a terrible record on First Amendment issues.
One reason she is probably even more determined to avoid the press this year is that when she does respond to questions regarding the email scandal, fact checkers have repeatedly pointed out that she is lying. The State Department Inspector General report and James Comey’s statement on the FBI investigation also demonstrated that she has lied on multiple points. There is now a push to have Clinton’s testimony to the FBI made public, which is expected to show significant contradictions between what she has said in public statements and in testimony before Congress.
In related news, there are unverified reports from conservative sources that an investigation of the Clinton Foundation is underway by both the FBI and a US Attorney. Regardless of whether this report is true, there has been further email evidence of improper actions involving the Foundation and the Clinton State Department. Robert Reich had this reaction:
This is the kind of thing I worry about. And it didn’t even come via wikileaks. It’s from the State Department.
A new batch of emails released yesterday by the Department shows sometimes overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department when Hillary served as secretary of state, raising new questions about whether the Foundation rewarded its donors with access and influence at the Department. In one such communication, a Clinton Foundation executive in 2009 sought to put a billionaire donor in touch with the United States ambassador to Lebanon because of the donor’s interests there. In another, the Foundation appeared to push aides to Mrs. Clinton to help find a job for a Foundation associate. Her aides indicated that the department was working on the request.
The State Department turned the new emails over to a conservative advocacy group, Judicial Watch, as part of a lawsuit that the group brought under the Freedom of Information Act. But why weren’t these emails released before? Why weren’t they included in the 55,000 pages of emails Hillary previously gave the State Department, that she said represented all her work-related emails?
It is a shame that more Democrats are not showing concern over the corruption seen from Hillary Clinton.