Megyn Kelly is using her platform and branding as an independent voice and legal expert on Fox News to make up laws and fabricate felony charges over Hillary Clinton's email use, accusing the former secretary of state of destroying evidence.
The State Department on Tuesday confirmed that it had no record of Clinton or her immediate predecessors, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, having signed a separation form (OF-109) upon leaving office, and that they were not required to sign that form.
Citing absolutely no independent legal authority, Kelly argued that "protocols" required Clinton to sign the document, only to quickly dismiss the fact that there is no evidence that Powell or Rice signed the form. She baselessly insinuated that Clinton destroyed documents to conceal perjury, claiming that the separation form "suddenly disappeared," and argued that Clinton was "committing a felony" by keeping email on a private server, which Kelly claimed amounted to concealing federal records.
Clinton has turned over 55,000 pages of emails as part of a State Department initiative to update its recordkeeping. State Department officials have made clear that Clinton's use of a non-government email account during her tenure was well known throughout the department, undercutting Kelly's argument that Clinton was concealing anything, and the overwhelming majority of her work-related email was captured in real time.
Kelly's fallacious legal opinion has been flatly rejected by actual legal experts who have said that Clinton's use of a private email while serving as secretary of state was perfectly legal, and by the undisputed fact that Clinton was under no deadline to turn over her private emails to the State Department.
Neil Koslowe, an expert on the Federal Records Act, told The National Law Journal, "There's not any blanket prohibition on any federal employee from using a personal email account to conduct government business." Fox News legal analysts Jonna Spilbor and Arthur Aidala agreed that Clinton did not violate any laws. Jason Baron, the former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration and a critic of Clinton's use of private email, acknowledged that Clinton did not violate any laws.
Even conservative columnist and Fox News regular Byron York acknowledged that the absence of separation forms from Powell and Rice "is exculpatory for Clinton."
Kelly has been obsessed with the question of whether Clinton signed a separation form, discussing it every night on her show since March 11. Her specious accusations and wild conspiracy theories, delivered with the veneer of legal authority, underscore her unique positioning at Fox News.
Since moving into the Fox news primetime lineup, she has been treated to a steady stream of glowing profiles that help Fox market Kelly as "break in the clouds, an interlude of lucidity," between hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, obvious purveyors of misinformation.
But for every one of the "Megyn moments" that show Kelly breaking from the perceived Fox orthodoxy to speak truth to power, there are even more, often subtle examples of her using her platform to advance the core Fox mission.
The Houston Chronicle and Reuters are helping the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) overstate its membership and downplay its connections to the oil industry, facilitating its advocacy to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In fact, major developers of advanced biofuels continue to support the standards and are not members of the association - which is largely run by executives with deep roots in the oil industry.
The New York Times kicked off a pseudo-scandal over Hillary Clinton's use of a non-government email while serving as secretary of state, a manufactured controversy straight out of the GOP's Benghazi witch hunt. While the Times dug in its heels despite significant shortcomings in its reporting, the media piled on with innuendo and reckless speculation that is now being cited by Republicans to justify superfluous Benghazi investigations.
CNN reporting directly refuted the media narrative insinuating that Hillary Clinton violated a 2005 guideline on the use of non-government email and was being investigated by the State Department to determine whether she broke agency rules. The guidance in question reportedly has exemptions that could have allowed Clinton to use a personal email account during her tenure and the State Department was only reviewing which documents could be released to the public.
That narrative that emerged earlier in the day was rooted in rushed and sloppy reporting from The Washington Post and Politico.
"The State Department has had a policy in place since 2005 to warn officials against routine use of personal email accounts for government work," Politico reported, "a regulation in force during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state that appears to be at odds with her reliance on a private email for agency business." The Politico article, published the evening of March 5, was headlined, "Clinton private email violated 'clear-cut' State rules."
But subsequent reporting from CNN debunks the rushed assertion that Clinton was in clear violation of the 2005 guidelines. Citing a State Department source, CNN reported that "Clinton was not automatically in violation of State Department policy when she exclusively used a private email during her four years as America's top diplomat." CNN further reported that 2005 guidelines insisting that employees use government-provided email "were filled with exemptions that could allow Clinton to use a private account."
Politico eventually updated its report with a statement from a State Department source that it was "inaccurate" to claim that "by using personal email [Clinton] is automatically" in violation of the guideline.
CNN also effectively debunked earlier rushed and sloppy reporting from the Washington Post. Earlier Friday, the Post was forced to "clarify" what it had initially claimed about the State Department's motivation behind reviewing Clinton's email. The initial write-up insinuated that the Department was reviewing Clinton's email to determine whether she "violated policies designed to protect sensitive information" through her use of a non-government email account. The updated language made clear that the motivation for reviewing Clinton's email was "to determine whether they can be released to the public," but still claimed that the review "could reveal whether she violated security policies."
But CNN reported that the State Department review was meant "to determine what can be released to the public, not whether she did anything wrong, according to a senior department official."
It's a fitting end to the week, as the manufactured scandal has been marked by rushed reporting built around innuendo and reckless speculation from the outset, when The New York Times was forced to immediately issue a clarification to its first report on Clinton's use of a non-government email.
The New York Times is holding Jeb Bush to a lower standard over his selective release of emails from his time as governor of Florida, taking Bush's word for it that enough emails have been "made public" despite reports that Bush hand-picked the emails he would release. At the same time, the Times is insisting that Hillary Clinton lay out the process she used to release emails from her tenure as secretary of state.
"Under Florida's records laws, emails from Mr. Bush's personal account have been made public," the Times reported. "'His emails were available via public records requests throughout his time in office and have remained available,' Ms. Campbell [a Bush spokesperson] said."
That's it. That's all the Times had to say about Jeb Bush's use of a non-government email account during his tenure as governor.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is furiously spinning amid mounting evidence that he has repeatedly lied about his professional history as a journalist.
On Wednesday, the Fox anchor put forth a laughable explanation to justify his claim to have seen nuns gunned down in El Salvador even as new evidence emerged casting doubt on his claim to have been at the scene when a friend of Lee Harvey Oswald committed suicide.
After it was revealed that O'Reilly could not possibly have witnessed nuns being gunned down in El Salvador, as he has repeatedly claimed, O'Reilly argued that he only meant that he had seen pictures of nuns who were killed before he even arrived in the country in 1981. That disingenuous explanation follows the pattern O'Reilly set in response to earlier reporting, led by Mother Jones, that he had been in an active combat zone "in Argentina, in the Falklands." O'Reilly now claims he never meant to suggest that he was in the Falkland Islands during the war, only that he was in Argentina when a violent protest broke out.
And tonight, The Guardian is reporting that O'Reilly's former Inside Edition colleagues "have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles."
As questions regarding Bill O'Reilly's credibility linger, more individuals have stepped forward casting doubt on his claim he was at the scene when a figure linked to President John F. Kennedy's assassination committed suicide.
Significant evidence contradicts O'Reilly's repeated statements that in 1977 he personally "heard" the self-inflicted shotgun blast that killed Lee Harvey Oswald's friend, George de Mohrenschildt, Media Matters reported on February 24. Despite the heavy scrutiny of O'Reilly's claim, he has offered no evidence to confirm that he was outside the residence and "heard" the shot. By contrast, the detailed police report filed after de Mohrenschildt's suicide refutes the notion that O'Reilly could have been at the residence at the time of death. It states that three people around and inside the house didn't hear the gunshot and also didn't see any strangers around the residence. O'Reilly is not mentioned at any point in the report. A congressional investigator's memoir and tapes of his conversations with O'Reilly also undermine O'Reilly's claims.
Byron Harris, who earlier this week told Media Matters he "guarantee[d]" that O'Reilly was not in Florida at the time of the suicide, now says he thinks O'Reilly was in Florida around that time, though Harris maintains his belief that O'Reilly was not at the scene when de Mohrenschildt committed suicide. His story shifted after talking with Bob Sirkin, an O'Reilly ally and freelance reporter who previously worked for Fox News. Sirkin described himself as one of the few people at WFAA who got along "very well" with O'Reilly, and said that he spoke to O'Reilly earlier this week when news of his JFK claim broke.
Sirkin claims to have reported from Florida with O'Reilly at the time and says O'Reilly told him he had heard the gunshot that killed de Mohrenschildt. Sirkin confirmed he wrote a September 2012 blog comment claiming he visited Florida with O'Reilly prior to de Mohrenschildt's suicide. That entry makes no mention of O'Reilly hearing the gunshot or being present at the location of the suicide.
And three new sources -- a WFAA colleague, a former Newsweek bureau chief, and a videographer who said he was O'Reilly's Florida cameraman -- also cast doubt on O'Reilly's story.
In an interview with Media Matters on Wednesday, Doug Fox, who worked for WFAA from 1974 to 2003, cast further doubt on O'Reilly's claim to have been at the scene.
"Sirkin and O'Reilly were both going to Florida to interview de Mohrenschildt," Fox said. "I think O'Reilly called and said the guy is dead before he could even get to him. He never mentioned to my knowledge hearing the gunshot that took de Mohrenschildt's life."
Frank Eberling, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker who has served as an adjunct professor in the Palm Beach State College Film Department, told Media Matters he had worked with O'Reilly and Sirkin when they reported from Florida around the time of de Mohrenschildt's death. Eberling said that while he is unsure, he thinks O'Reilly arrived in Florida the day after the suicide.
Eberling also said that he does not remember O'Reilly telling him that he had overheard the death. "If he had told me, that is something I would have remembered," he said.
Sirkin told Media Matters he didn't recognize Eberling's name, but acknowledged he wasn't sure who their freelance cameraman was in Florida.
Even Sirkin, who told Media Matters he was "not really interested" in going on O'Reilly's show to corroborate his claim, acknowledged that he cannot confirm O'Reilly's whereabouts at the time of de Mohrenschildt's suicide, noting that he was not with O'Reilly at the time.
Hugh Aynesworth, a former bureau chief for Newsweek and the Washington Times, strongly refuted O'Reilly's JFK claim. The Dallas Observer reported on February 26 that the de Mohrenschildt suicide scoop came from the Dallas newspaper "where Aynesworth was working. It was his story, he says. He did go to Palm Beach, and he says now there was nobody around the news scene that day named Bill O'Reilly." Aynesworth, a "JFK assassination expert," says he was on the scene "within hours" of the suicide, adding, "I didn't see him [O'Reilly] there. I was at the police department or that house for hours, and he just was not there."
Rudy Giuliani used a Fox & Friends appearance to explain his belief that President Obama does not love America, claiming that he rarely hears the president express love for America or discuss American exceptionalism -- an awkward claim given that just yesterday President Obama extolled America in a public speech.
"I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America," Giuliani said earlier this week during an event featuring Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. "He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country." Asked to explain that position during an appearance on Fox & Friends, Giuliani said:
GIULIANI: In his rhetoric, I very rarely hear him say the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America. I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents.
Giuliani's comments fit into a long term pattern of Fox News hosts and guests campaigning to smear Obama by portraying him as insufficiently proud of America. But his claim is particularly tone deaf today, coming just one day after Obama celebrated what he called America's unique strength and perseverance:
OBAMA: For more than 238 years, the United States of America has not just endured, but we have thrived and surmounted challenges that might have broken a lesser nation. After a terrible civil war, we repaired our union. We weathered a Great Depression, became the world's most dynamic economy. We fought fascism, liberated Europe. We faced down communism -- and won. American communities have been destroyed by earthquakes and tornadoes and fires and floods -- and each time we rebuild.
My point is this: As Americans, we are strong and we are resilient. And when tragedy strikes, when we take a hit, we pull together, and we draw on what's best in our character -- our optimism, our commitment to each other, our commitment to our values, our respect for one another. We stand up, and we rebuild, and we recover, and we emerge stronger than before. That's who we are. [Whitehouse.gov, 2/18/15]
Media Matters researcher Nicholas Rogers contributed research to this post.
Rush Limbaugh warned his listeners Monday that net neutrality was part of a secret plot to undermine the radio host as well as Fox News and to control the media.
Limbaugh's scare tactics come amid an industry-funded push in the media to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from passing rules to defend net neutrality.
But Tim Karr, senior director of strategy at Free Press, explained on Media Matters Radio that net neutrality regulations simply protect the principle that all content should be subject to the same rules. "It's just a question of regulation for whom," Karr said, explaining that the FCC rule reclassifying broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon as utilities would protect users.
According to Karr, those protections are necessary given the push by companies like Comcast and Verizon to control Internet access:
We need to put in place protections against these companies, because they have spoken out on numerous occasions over the last 10 years about their desire not just to simply provide us with access, but to start to try to privilege certain Web sites and to slow down others so that they can have more control over the future of this communications medium.
Karr also pushed back on claims that net neutrality protections would cost jobs. "They are simply scare tactics," he told Media Matters Radio. According to The New York Times editorial board, the FCC's "strong rules will actually help innovation flourish."
Listen to Tim Karr refute net neutrality myths on the February 7 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
Fox News host Kennedy likened a federal requirement that publicly traded corporations disclose how much money CEOs make relative to workers to the practice of making women feel guilty for their perceived sexual behavior.
The Securities and Exchange Commission could vote as early as this month on a so-called pay ratio rule. "As proposed in September 2013, the SEC rules would require public companies to publish the ratio of the CEO's compensation to the median pay of employees," Politico reported. "Republicans in Congress and at the SEC have criticized the rule and don't want the agency to complete it."
The New York Times omitted key facts it had previously reported to dishonestly accuse Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration of selling political favors to an Ecuadorean family in exchange for campaign donations. Excised from the Times reporting is the fact that prominent Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have the exact same relationship with the donors that the Times is now portraying as a problem for Democrats.
"Ecuador family wins favors after donations to Democrats," the Times headline claimed. The article detailed the decision to grant a travel visa to a "politically connected Ecuadorean woman," and argued that the decision to do so was connected to "tens of thousands of dollars" the family of the woman, Estefania Isaias, has given to Democratic campaigns.
According to the Times, "the case involving Estefania could prove awkward for Mrs. Clinton," based on the fact that she was Secretary of State when members of Congress were advocating for travel visa for the relative of two Florida residents seen as fugitives by the Ecuadorean government.
The Times fixated on political donations given by the Isaias family to Democrats as if it were news, but the Times already reported on the money the Isaias family has given to elected officials in a March 11, 2014, article. Moreover, that prior article noted that potential Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had also aided the Isaias' at the same time their political campaigns received donations linked to that family -- facts absent from the more recent piece.
In March, the Times made clear that the family gave significant campaign contributions to Florida Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who "acknowledged trying to help the family with immigration troubles." The Republicans sent letters -- in one case directly to Clinton herself -- inquiring into the immigration issues surrounding members of the family or advocating on their behalf.
"The family gave about $40,000 to Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, whose district members live in," the Times reported then. "Last month, she acknowledged to The Daily Beast that while she was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee she sent four letters to top American officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, then secretary of state, advocating on behalf of three members of the Isaias family who had problems with their residencies. She called it 'standard practice' for constituents."
That detail is absent from this week's Times article.
Here's the Times in March: "Mr. Rubio, whose political action committee received $2,000 from Luis Isaias, also made 'routine constituent inquiries' into immigration matters for two family members, his office said." In December, Rubio's advocacy vanished from the Times.
Additionally, while the article suggests in its opening paragraph that Estefania Isaias was given permission to enter the country in 2012 in direct response to the donations from her family, she reportedly received the same access on six prior occasions dating back to the first restrictions on her movement in 2007 under the Bush Administration. Indeed, the Times reported in the 23rd paragraph of its article that a spokesperson for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said the senator's office had gotten involved with the Isaias case because "because Ms. Isaías had previously been allowed to travel to the United States six times despite the ban, and the decision to suddenly enforce it seemed arbitrary and wrong."
Conservative media are exploiting the Times' shoddy reporting -- reporting that doesn't stand up to basic scrutiny in light of what the Times itself has previously reported.
"Clinton State Dept Pulled Strings for Menendez in Pay-to-Play Deal with Dem Donor," the Washington Free Beacon headline claimed. "Controversial Ecuadorian Family Donated About $100,000 to Obama ... and the State Department Returned the Favor," is the take over at The Blaze. The Daily Caller: "Sen Menendez Pushed Hillary Clinton To Grant Visa For Daughter Of Ecuadoran Bank Fugitive."
Taking The New York Times' lead, Rubio's and Ros-Lehtinen's advocacy on behalf of their donors is nowhere to be seen.