A Quick Follow On Regarding How The New York Times Inaccurately Framed The Coverage Of Secretary Clinton

I just want to make a quick follow on to Anne Laurie’s post by getting to the real meat of the issue that the New York Times framed the reporting on Secretary Clinton from 23 July 2015 forward by publishing an inaccurate story with a thoroughly misleading headline. Leave all the self defensiveness of different NY Times reporters aside. It is all sound and fury signifying nothing but the all too human self defensiveness when someone is involved with a major screw up.

Since this is going to be long, here’s the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) since 1/2 the post is going to be after the page jump.

Bottom Line Up Front

  • The New York Times wrote an inaccurate story with a completely misleading headline that framed all future reporting on this issue and which also further framed Secretary Clinton as criminal in her behavior as Secretary of State.
  • As a result the New York Times blew the larger story, which is that US governmental IT is so bad and lagging, not to mention insecure, that utilizing a private server was both not prohibited according to the rules in place at the time that Secretary Clinton became Secretary of State, and that it still isn’t much better.
  • That the real political question, if there really was one, was about political calculus and optics. As in should Secretary Clinton have been considering the potential future political optics when deciding to go with the personal server if she was still considering running for President again in the future?*
  • Reporters, both at the New York Times and other newspapers, networks, and/or platforms DID NOT then and DO NOT now understand classification, classification issues, nor the classification review that occurs when a FOIA request is made!
  • Political reporters did not realize then, and still do not realize now, that they were being manipulated to achieve the aims of Judicial Watch in an attempt to achieve Judicial Watch’s political goals in regard to both Secretary Clinton and the 2016 election.

And now on to the actual post.

The real issue here is that the New York Times got the initial reporting wrong, used a terribly misleading headline, and that almost three years later seemingly NO ONE in the news media, especially the US political news media, still has any understanding of how classification works! This whole mess is the result of reporters not bothering to learn, or acting as if they don’t know, how the actual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process works, including classification review. That whenever a FOIA request is made a review is done to determine if classified information can now be declassified and released pursuant to the request. And, equally importantly, that material that was deemed unclassified at the time it was created and/or transmitted should now be retroactively up classified as a result of changed circumstances. Nor did anyone bother to actually investigate that all of this resulted from Judicial Watch weaponizing the FOIA process in an attempt to create just this type of situation, which it could then exploit the political news media in order to achieve Judicial Watch’s own political goals.

On 23 July 2015, the Times then public editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote an article delineating what and how the Times reporting had gotten wrong:

The story certainly seemed like a blockbuster: A criminal investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton by the Justice Department was being sought by two federal inspectors general over her email practices while secretary of state.

It’s hard to imagine a much more significant political story at this moment, given that she is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.

The story – a Times exclusive — appeared high on the home page and the mobile app late Thursday and on Friday and then was displayed with a three-column headline on the front page in Friday’s paper. The online headline read “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email,” very similar to the one in print.

But aspects of it began to unravel soon after it first went online. The first major change was this: It wasn’t really Mrs. Clinton directly who was the focus of the request for an investigation. It was more general: whether government information was handled improperly in connection with her use of a personal email account.

Much later, The Times backed off the startling characterization of a “criminal inquiry,” instead calling it something far tamer sounding: it was a “security” referral.

And the evolving story, which began to include a new development, simply replaced the older version. That development was that several instances of classified information had been found in Mrs. Clinton’s personal email – although, in fairness, it’s doubtful whether the information was marked as classified when she sent or received those emails. Eventually, a number of corrections were appended to the online story, before appearing in print in the usual way – in small notices on Page A2.

But you can’t put stories like this back in the bottle – they ripple through the entire news system.

So it was, to put it mildly, a mess. As a result, I’ve been spending the last couple of days asking how this could happen and how something similar can be prevented in the future. I’ve spoken to the executive editor, Dean Baquet; to a top-ranking editor involved with the story, Matt Purdy; and to the two reporters, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt.

The story developed quickly on Thursday afternoon and evening, after tips from various sources, including on Capitol Hill. The reporters had what Mr. Purdy described as “multiple, reliable, highly placed sources,” including some “in law enforcement.” I think we can safely read that as the Justice Department.

The sources said not only was there indeed a referral but also that it was directed at Mrs. Clinton herself, and that it was a criminal referral. And that’s how The Times wrote it initially.

“We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong,” Mr. Purdy told me. “That’s an explanation, not an excuse. We have an obligation to get facts right and we work very hard to do that.”

By Friday afternoon, the Justice Department issued a terse statement, saying that there had been a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information, stating clearly that it was not a criminal referral. Mr. Purdy says he remains puzzled about why the initial inaccurate information was confirmed so clearly. (Update: Other news outlets also got confirmation of the criminal referral as they followed The Times’s story. They did not report, as an earlier version of this post suggested, that she herself was the target of the referral.)

I want to highlight something that I quoted from Sullivan above because I think it is highly significant:

(Update: Other news outlets also got confirmation of the criminal referral as they followed The Times’s story. They did not report, as an earlier version of this post suggested, that she herself was the target of the referral.)

Sullivan clearly recognized that The Times reporting set up all the subsequent reporting. This is significant. Had The Times gotten it right, then the framing would not have been set that there were two criminal referrals for Secretary Clinton made by two Inspectors General regarding her handling of emails. The Times was the initial point of transmission, as the paper of record, for this inaccurate information.

Here’s the actual truth about classified information transmitted to Secretary Clinton by email and therefore through the Clinton server. It was provided, under oath, by former FBI Director Comey to the House Oversight Committee in his public testimony in July 2016. (emphasis mine)

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Open Thread: The DC Press Corpse & Its Greasy Thumb on the Political Scales

Amy Chozick’s “sometimes cubicle-mate” at the FTFNYT stands up to defend her, and his employer. One of a long twitter thread:

To quote everybody’s mom: If ‘every news organization’ jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?


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Like Every Other Pundit, Amy Chozick Will Never Forgive Hillary Clinton for Amy Chozick’s Mistakes

From the excerpts I’ve seen, Chozick’s new “tell entirely too much” book reads scarily like it was written by a teenage girl looking to pick a fight with her stepmother. Selfish beeyotch kept lecturing me about how that new boy ‘couldn’t be trusted’, so of course I *had* to go to the party with him, and now that I’m stumbling home barefoot with a roofie hangover, I want the world to know that it is ALL HER FAULT!

(A sentiment with which, of course, too many of her fellow NYTimes access journalists concur.)

Carlos Lozada, at the Washington Post has a thoughtful review of a thoughtless person book:

Amy Chozick, the lead New York Times reporter on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, believes that the news media’s focus on Clinton’s private e-mail server — a story the Times broke and that Chozick would write about extensively — was excessive. She even grew to resent it. Chozick also thinks that reporting on campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails turned journalists into “puppets” of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, and she struggles to explain why they did it anyway. She contends that sexism played a big role in Clinton’s defeat but also encounters it first-hand among Clinton’s campaign staff. And while she hammers the candidate for having no clear vision for why she sought the presidency, Chozick allows that competence, experience and policy were hardly selling points in 2016, when it “turned out a lot of people just wanted to blow s— up.”

These are some of the revelations and contradictions permeating Chozick’s “Chasing Hillary,” a memoir by turns poignant, insightful and exasperating. It’s a buffet-style book — media criticism here, trail reminscences there, political analysis and assorted recollections from Chozick’s past tossed throughout — and while the portions are tasty, none fully satisfies. In the unending debate over what happened in 2016, and whether journalists contributed to Donald Trump’s victory, Chozick offers plenty of self-recrimination, but she still blames Clinton for not grasping how the game was played…

“Chasing Hillary” offers some searing moments surrounding election night, as when the Clinton team’s data guru grasps that his Florida models were off (Latino turnout lower than expected, white turnout huge in the Panhandle), then turns to campaign manager Robby Mook and says, “But, Robby, if our models were wrong in Florida, they could be wrong everywhere.” Mook eventually delivers the news of impending defeat to Clinton. “I knew it. I knew this would happen to me,” she answers. “They were never going to let me be president.”

The next day, Times reporters consider what they’d missed — and why. “God, I didn’t go to a single Hillary or Trump rally,” a colleague of Chozick’s admits, “and yet, I wrote with such authority.”…

When she felt insecure at work, Chozick would channel Clinton. “I adopted Hillary’s mood,” she recalls. “I went around despondent and aggrieved, pissed off at the world, at my editors, at myself for not being ‘likable enough.’ ” But that’s not the Clinton she wants to remember, Chozick concludes. She wants to remember the Hillary who “tried to hold it all together — her marriage, her daughter, her career, her gender, her country.” The Hillary who taught her about grit, to believe she could excel but also to allow herself to stop striving.

“Hillary taught me all of that,” Chozick writes in her final lines. “So what if she hated me?”

Reading this book, I often had the same question.


 
The excerpt the NYTimes chose to highlight did Chozick no favors…

“Several people told me” is the media version of Trump’s “Many people have said” — that most pointless of metaphors, a transparent figleaf.


(Again: I strongly suspect this is very much still the playbook at the NYTimes.)



Russiagate Open Thread: The DNC’s Lawsuit – Early Reports

Stock photo shade thrown! — Trump looks like the sweaty district manager trying to convince his skeptical boss those mysterious ‘accounting errors’ have nothing to do with him. Life’s been a little *too* real around here this week, so I’ve probably missed a lot, but just in case anybody wants a space to discuss this fascinating topic…

This looks, to my I-Am-Not-A-Lawyer eyes, like a good start at explaining the suit:


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Dems Sue Russia, Trump Campaign and WikiLeaks

Breaking from The Post:

Democratic Party files lawsuit alleging Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks conspired to disrupt the 2016 campaign

The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.

Well, damn! Apparently something similar happened during the Watergate scandal, and the GOP had to pay up!

Open thread.



And Now A Word From The Home Office: Russia Announces The US Position On Future US Sanctions Against Russia

The defenestration of Ambassador Haley continues…

From Tass:

MOSCOW, April 18. /TASS/. The United States has notified Russia through its Embassy in Washington that it will not impose fresh sanctions against Russia for the time being, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry informed TASS on Wednesday.

“I can confirm that the US has notified the Russian embassy that there will be no new sanctions for some time,” he said.

The Washington Post’s Carole Leonnig confirmed this last night:

But it leaves an important question: who was informed first the Russian ambassador in DC or Ambassador Haley?

The US’s position on Russian sanctions has now been officially announced and confirmed by Russia through a Russian state news media outlet.

We are off the looking glass and through the map.

Stay clammy!

Open thread.



Even More Breaking News! Sean Hannity Identified By Michael Cohen’s Lawyer As Michael Cohen’s Third Legal Client

Long time listener, first time caller…

Based on the culture of Fox News, Brad Moss’s conjecture seems apt.

And it’s only 3:00 PM EDT!

Updated at 3:30 PM EDT (h/t germy in comments):

Stay frosty!

Open thread.