Hillary Clinton spoke at the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting Monday night, and I do give her points for both humor and self-awareness:
“I am well aware that some of you may be a little surprised to see me here tonight,” she said. “My relationship with the press has been at times, shall we say, complicated.”
“I am all about new beginnings: a new grandchild, another new hairstyle, a new email account,” she quipped, “Why not a new relationship with the press? So here goes. No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy.”
So far not bad. I heard more of her speech last night and had to go through several media accounts until I found one which included a reference one of the best lines: “Before I go any further, if you look under your chairs, you’ll find a simple non-disclosure agreement. My attorneys drew it up.” As I said, she showed self-awareness.
As is typical for Clinton, she also refused to take questions, but Dan Baltz, who won this year’s award, did offer to yield some of his time if Clinton would take some questions. She did not accept the offer.
This was a far better appearance for Clinton than her book tour or her press conference after the email scandal broke. It is questionable whether this will really repair her problems with the press. Joking around with the press hardly makes up for using her private server to block Freedom of Information Act requests for information from the media.
Clinton at least showed a better connection to reality than Breitbart which covered her speech in this manner:
“We need more than ever smart, fair-minded journalists to challenge our assumptions, push us towards new solutions, and hold all of us accountable,” she reportedly told mainstream media reporters who notoriously protect Democrats like Clinton.
I don’t think Clinton believed she was receiving any protection from the mainstream media when she received well-deserved criticism in the past month because of the email scandal from mainstream media sources such as The New York Times, NPR, AP, NBC News, MSNBC, and The Guardian. Plus there was the Boston Globe pushing for Elizabeth Warren to run against her, and far more scathing criticism from many liberal publications.
As I discussed previously, one of the more serious aspects of Hillary Clinton violating rules regarding government records is that she used her private server to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests, including requests from the Associated Press. AP is now filing suit:
The Associated Press on Wednesday sued the State Department to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
The legal action follows repeated requests filed under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act that have gone unfulfilled. They include one request the AP made five years ago and others pending since the summer of 2013.
The suit in U.S. District Court comes a day after Clinton broke her silence about her use of a private email account while she was America’s top diplomat.
The FOIA requests and the suit seek materials related to her public and private calendars; correspondence involving aides likely to play important roles in her expected campaign for president; and Clinton-related emails about the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices.
“After careful deliberation and exhausting our other options, The Associated Press is taking the necessary legal steps to gain access to these important documents, which will shed light on actions by the State Department and former Secretary Clinton, a presumptive 2016 presidential candidate, during some of the most significant issues of our time,” said Karen Kaiser, AP’s general counsel.
Said AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll: “The Freedom of Information Act exists to give citizens a clear view of what government officials are doing on their behalf. When that view is denied, the next resort is the courts.”
Other media outlets have made similar complaints, so this might not be the only suit.
Despite claims made during her misleading press conference yesterday, Clinton has violated Section 1236.22 of the 2009 National Archives and Records Administration requirements, along with what White House spokesmen describe as “very specific guidance” from the White House. While some Clintonistas follow their usual formula of denial of wrongdoing on the part of the Clintons, distraction, and demonization of critics, the media has been fact-checking and debunking Clinton throughout the day. Some Clintonistas are claiming this story is coming from Republicans and Fox, ignoring the fact that the story originated in The New York Times and it has been liberal magazines and blogs who have been criticizing her misconduct on principle. Andrea Mitchell reported on problems on record retention in the Clinton State Department on NBC tonight. NPR’s All Things Considered was just one of many media outlets which debunked statements made during her press conference, including her claims that she did not break the rules:
Clinton admitted her decision to carry one smartphone device rather than two during her tenure as secretary of state might have been a mistake. Apart from that, though, Clinton maintained her conduct regarding her email was by the book.
Others aren’t so sure. For instance, Clinton said it was “undisputed” that “the laws and regulations in effect” when she was secretary of state allowed her to use her personal email account for work. Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in D.C., disagreed. He said the Federal Records Act of 2009 “in effect discouraged the use of personal email for official business.”
Clinton was confirmed as secretary of state in January 2009. The Records Act did not prohibit use of personal email accounts, but Blanton said the language is clear. “It says the head of every federal agency — and that’s who she was as secretary of state — is responsible for making sure that records of that agency’s business are saved on agency record systems,” he said.
Blanton said that does not include a server in Clinton’s Chappaqua, N.Y., home.
Clinton also asserted: “For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work-related.”
Blanton said Clinton did indeed have the right to separate out her personal emails from official records. But had those emails been on a government server, it would have been a more transparent process, he said. “If those emails were in the State Department system, that separation of personal or non-record material from the official stuff would be done by a professional records manager or professional archivist, a civil servant — not an aspiring politician and her lawyers.”
Similar coverage from The Guardian:
How can Clinton believe she didn’t violate any rules?
Clinton also said at the press conference she “fully complied with every rule I was governed by”. Well, actually: a 2005 State Department directive said “It is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized [Automated Information System], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.”
Sources told Politico the rules were “clear-cut”. An ambassador was harshly criticized in 2012 for breaking this rule in the same manner Clinton did and subsequently fired in part for using a private email account at work. And Clinton herself signed a State Department cable in 2011 saying that all ambassadors should avoid personal email for professional business.
This is just a small sample of the criticism of Clinton from the liberal media. Meanwhile from the center, Ron Fournier did a good job of summing up what it is important:
Her rule-breaking and obfuscation force anybody who is not paid by Clinton or blindly loyal to ponder an uncomfortable choice. Clinton either has no idea how much damage she’s doing to her image and her party (which doesn’t speak well of her crisis-management skills) or there is something untoward in those emails.
It would be nice if we could all assume the former: She’s just a lousy candidate, not a liar or a crook. But the vast majority of Americans have no faith in politicians, politics, or government. Most know the Clintons’ history of stonewalling. And to those people, her answer to legitimate questions about government email and the Clinton Foundation is, “Trust me.”
The Washington Post Fact Checker gave Clinton three Pinocchios for her spin on the rules:
By the time Clinton took office, federal expectations for archiving electronic records were clearer than they were under Powell’s tenure. That does not absolve Powell for not being able to locate his records a decade later, or for not turning them over to National Archives back then. But it does mean that Clinton was held to a more definitive standard. Moreover, this common defense among her supporters is used to deflect the central issue: that Clinton exclusively used a personal account, and did not provide records until she was requested to, after she left office. That is the most relevant point, so the Democrats earn Three Pinocchios.
Unless smoking gun comes up, or Clinton botches further controversies as badly as this, most likely she will still win the nomination. This scandal, and other problems such as during her book tour, have raised questions from all sides of the political spectrum as to whether another Democrat can beat Clinton for the nomination. Several writers on the left are suggesting that Clinton needs a primary challenge. The Weekly Standard has an interesting suggestion from the right:
As reporters and members of Congress begin to dig into the Clinton email scandal, former Democratic presidential candidate has announced an upcoming visit to Iowa. He’ll be in the important caucus state from May 5-7, as part of a training sessions for the Climate Reality Project, of which he’s chairman…
While Gore has not expressed presidential ambitions in some time, some Republicans cannot help but wonder about the timing of the trip. Especially as the Clinton email scandal begins to grow.
“When it comes to politicians visiting Iowa, I don’t believe in coincidences,” one experienced Republican hand says.
“Al Gore, like Hillary Clinton has spent most of his life in politics. Running for office is something that’s in his blood, and he probably thinks that the waters for a potential bid are getting a little, shall we say, warmer.”
I suspect that it is purely coincidence that this climate meeting is in Iowa this spring, but this is also one of the rare times that I hope that Republicans speculation is right. If Hillary Clinton’s campaign continues to self-destruct, Democrats would benefit from a candidate who is not only well known, but who once even won the popular vote for the presidency. His move to the left while Clinton has moved to the right would, of course, be another big plus from my perspective.
“Never again will Brian Williams mislead this great nation about being shot at in a war we probably wouldn’t have ended up in if the media had applied this level of scrutiny to the actual f**king war.” –Jon Stewart
This again raises the question–if Brian Williams is now being punished for lying about Iraq, what about Bush and Cheney?
As with most major news these days, the mainstream media was bypassed, and this was released on Twitter:
Thank you Jon. pic.twitter.com/yPdxjnkuLw
— Comedy Central (@ComedyCentral) February 10, 2015
There is no news as to what Stewart plans to do next. Considering he plans to be free prior to the first primaries, maybe Stewart plans a last minute challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Or perhaps he will replace Brian Williams at NBC News. It is only fair that Williams be punished for lying about Iraq, but I’m still waiting for Bush and Cheney to receive their punishment.
John Oliver and Last Week Tonight returned on HBO last weekend with a biting expose of the pharmaceutical industry (video above). Like Jon Stewart, Oliver’s comedy version of the news is far more revealing than what is seen on most actual news reports. Last Week Tonight also has the advantage of spending more time on a single story than either Jon Stewart or actual news shows.
Oliver pointed how how Americans are addicted to prescription drugs, spending almost $330 billion on them. He suggested that Walter White of Breaking Bad could have made a lot more money cooking up drugs for rheumatoid arthritis instead of meth. He lampooned the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to influence the prescribing habits of physicians, describing their ethics with this comparison: “Drug companies are a bit like high school boyfriends; they are much more concerned with getting inside you than being effective once they are in there.”
Oliver concluded with a warning about doctors who take large amounts of money from the pharmaceutical industry with a mock public service commercial, Ask Your Doctor:
Here’s how it works. Money combines with the cash receptors in your doctor’s wallet to create fast-acting financial relief, so your doctor can rest easy and enjoy life.
Common side effects of doctors taking money may include chronic overprescription, unusually heavy cash flow, dependency on free samples, inflammation of confidence, affluenza and an increased tendency to suggest off-label prescriptions, which in turn can cause heart attack, stroke, loss of feeling in arms and legs, seizures, blurred vision, grinding of the teeth, temporary deafness, total blindness, numbness, sudden bursts of rage, angry erections lasting over 17 hours, and death.
Ask your doctor today if he’s taking pharmaceutical company money. Then ask your doctor what the money is for. Ask your doctor if he’s taken any money from the companies that make the drugs he’s just prescribed for you. Then ask yourself if you’re satisfied with that answer.
The story was quite accurate. If this was a documentary as opposed to a comedy show my only complaint is that it concentrates on one side of the story in portraying doctors who take money and are susceptible to pharmaceutical sales pitches. Many doctors actually are quite aware of the problem and many do not take any meaningful amount of money from pharmaceutical companies.
For example, Oliver quoted a drug rep as being disturbed when a doctor asked her for advice on treating a patient as she is just a poli-sci major. I often feel the opposite, when pharmaceutical reps act as if they are qualified to give me advice (invariably involving greater use of their drug), knowing how little pharmaceutical or medical background most of them have. While I do accept samples in order to help out patients, which requires me to have some contact with drug reps, I am certainly not going to consider anything they say to be anything other than advertising. One time I even had a drug rep run out of my office crying when I didn’t play long with her sales pitch. We also have not been too welcoming to the rare drug rep who attempts to get back into our sample room in order to put his drugs in front and hide the samples form the competition.
“A new study has found that watching Fox News can make you more conservative and watching MSNBC can make you more liberal. And watching CNN can make you think that no plane has ever safely reached its destination.” –Conan O’Brien
On Tuesday Fox & Friends asked Twitter users to post things they were over with the hashtag #OverIt2014. They started with Fake Journalist Barbie tweeting, “I’m over attacks against Christianity.” This worked out about how you might expect. Gawker reported some of the snarky responses, and far more are now up:
— WesleyZ3 (@50th_President) December 31, 2014
“Journalists” w/ the IQ of a donut sprinkle. #OverIt2014
— Robert G. Glantz (@Robert_Glantz) December 31, 2014
— D Gregory Smith (@Dgsma) December 31, 2014
I’m over Fox News using propaganda and fear to try and alter public opinion. #OverIt2014
— Michael Fierro (@biffster) December 31, 2014
— Andrew Levin (@ALevinMusic) December 31, 2014
“Christians” who endorse torture #OverIt2014
— benintn (@benintn) December 31, 2014
#OverIt2014 Fox viewers not realizing Obama can’t be weak AND be a tyrant.
— RED STATE BLUES (@sherrilee7) December 31, 2014
You get the idea. The responses are continuing to come in at a rapid rate.
In a previously unreleased audio interview aired last night on CNN, O’Neill told freelance journalist Alex Quade that he had used details of bin Laden’s death to bring closure to the families of 9/11 victims, saying:
“[O]ne thing I tell them is ‘All right, Osama bin Laden died like a pussy. That’s all I’m telling you. Just so you know. He died afraid. And he knew that we were there to kill him.'”
“You can quote me on this bullshit,” said O’Neill.
Bin Laden’s alleged killer also told Quade that SEAL Team Six was sent after the Al Qaeda leader “because they wanted him dead” and that “it doesn’t matter anymore if I am ‘The Shooter.'”
“I don’t give a fuck,” said O’Neill. “We got him. We brought him out and we lived.”
Mediaite also describes how he “used details of the terrorist mastermind’s death to provide comfort to 9/11 families.”
He also will be interviewed on Fox. Does that mean that Fox viewers actually believe that bin Laden was killed under Obama? There really are conservatives who deny this, seeing yet another conspiracy theory in the reports of his death. After all, as MisterConservative said, we never saw the body, and Benghazi!