Fox News selectively quoted a statement from Hillary Clinton's lawyer to suggest that she lied about having a "second email account" during her time as secretary of state. But the network ignored in several segments that the supposed discrepancy was explained months ago.
On May 18, The New York Times published selected emails from Clinton's time at State, which appeared to show her sending emails from two private addresses: HDR22@clintonemail.com and email@example.com. Right-wing media immediately jumped on the story to claim that it contradicted Clinton's previous statement that she only used one email address while at State.
Fox went so far as to suggest Clinton "was lying" about her use of email, missing key context in several of their segments on the topic. On the May 19 edition of America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett asked: "Either she forgot, or she was lying. What do you think?" Fox reporter Doug McKelway also claimed that the "second email" was a "direct contradiction" to Clinton's previous statements, noting those remarks were "not made in testimony, nor was it made under oath, so perhaps there's some wiggle room there, but I'm not sure how she gets out of that."
Later on Happening Now, McKelway highlighted a letter sent from Clinton's lawyer that stated "firstname.lastname@example.org is not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State."
However, this seeming discrepancy was explained in the same letter McKelway selectively quoted from.
As Clinton's lawyer noted back in that March 2015 letter -- and which Fox News ignored in these segments -- Clinton changed her email address when she left State because Gawker had published emails that revealed the "HDR22" address. That was when she changed the address to "hrod17."
According to her office, when this change occurred, the new address replaced the old address on the digital records of her previous emails. Thus, as explained in a release several months ago, when her emails were printed out and provided to the State Department, the new email address "appeared on the printed copies as the sender."
While this context was missing from Jarrett and McKelway's morning reports, Fox Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry reported the Clinton campaign's explanation in a separate segment on America's Newsroom, saying that "when she printed out all the emails to turn over back to the government, that second account came up, even though that was not the one she was using months earlier."
The old "HDR22" address still appears in some of the documents the Times highlighted, but seems to only occur in the text of the body of emails that were replies or forwards from other individuals. For example, a printed email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan which was published by the Times still shows "HDR22" in the text of his email, because he was replying to her original message.
The backdating of the email addresses "led to understandable confusion" for the congressional Select Committee on Benghazi earlier this year, prompting Clinton's office to issue this explanation in March.
The original Gawker report, which highlighted emails sent to Clinton during her time at State, also includes screenshots of those emails. The emails shown are all clearly sent to Clinton's original email account, HRD22, in keeping with Clinton office's explanation for the email address confusion.
The New York Times devoted a front page article on May 19 to advancing baseless industry allegations that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally lobbied on behalf of clean water protections. Buried deep within the article was an acknowledgment that the allegations don't hold up, but The Times ran with the story anyway.
The Times reported that "industry critics said the agency's actions might be violating federal lobbying laws," and that the EPA's efforts to build support for its proposed clean water rule "are now being cited as evidence that the E.P.A. has illegally engaged in so-called grass-roots lobbying."
Yet the very same Times article acknowledged that multiple "experts" -- including an energy industry lobbyist who worked for the EPA under the Bush administration -- "said the agency's actions did not appear to cross a legal line."
Moreover, The Times wrote that "the Justice Department, in a series of legal opinions going back nearly three decades, has told federal agencies that they should not engage in substantial 'grass-roots' lobbying." That led The Times into a discussion of a social media campaign in support of the clean water rule that the EPA conducted "in conjunction with the Sierra Club," while "grass-roots group" Organizing for America "was also pushing the rule." The Times added that "critics said environmental groups had inappropriately influenced the campaign," citing officials from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who claimed that "[t]here is clear collusion between extreme environmental groups and the Obama administration" on new regulations.
It wasn't until 34 paragraphs after the initial mention of the Justice Department that The Times included this massive caveat (emphasis added):
In its previous opinions to federal agencies, the Justice Department has indicated that "grass-roots" efforts are most clearly prohibited if they are related to legislation pending in Congress and are "substantial," which it defined as costing about $100,000 in today's dollars -- a price tag that the E.P.A.'s efforts on the clean water rule almost certainly did not reach if the salaries of the agency staff members involved are not counted.
As likely Republican candidates for president continue to struggle with the legacy of the Iraq War, and specifically with the question of whether they would have authorized a similar invasion if they had been president at the time, it's important to remember the media's role in the foreign policy failure. At a time of heightened patriotic fervor, the national press played a crucial role in helping to sell President George W. Bush's war to the public in 2003.
There were some key, praiseworthy exceptions, but in general the Beltway press failed badly during the run-up to the war. It's a fact that shouldn't be forgotten as politicians today grapple with the past.
Below is an excerpt from my book, Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over For Bush. (Note: "MSM" is shorthand for mainstream media.)
Battered by accusations of a liberal bias and determined to prove their conservative critics wrong, the press during the run-up to the war -- timid, deferential, unsure, cautious, and often intentionally unthinking -- came as close as possible to abdicating its reason for existing in the first place, which is to accurately inform citizens, particularly during times of great national interest. Indeed, the MSM's failings were all the more important because of the unusually influential role they played in advance of the war-of-choice with Iraq.
"When America has been attacked -- at Pearl Harbor, or as on September 11 -- the government needed merely to tell the people that it was our duty to respond, and the people rightly conferred their authority," noted Harold Meyerson in the American Prospect magazine. "But a war of choice is a different matter entirely. In that circumstance, the people will ask why. The people will need to be convinced that their sons and daughters and husbands and wives should go halfway around the world to fight a nemesis that they didn't really know was a nemesis."
It's not fair to suggest the MSM alone convinced Americans to send some sons and daughter to fight. But the press went out of its way to tell a pleasing, administration-friendly tale about the pending war. In truth, Bush never could have ordered the invasion of Iraq -- never could have sold the idea at home -- if it weren't for the help he received from the MSM, and particularly the stamp of approval he received from so-called liberal media institutions such as the Washington Post, which in February of 2003 alone, editorialized in favor of war nine times. (Between September 2002 and February 2003, the paper editorialized twenty-six times in favor of the war.)
The Post had plenty of company from the liberal East Coast media cabal, with high-profile columnists and editors -- the newfound liberal hawks -- at the New Yorker, Newsweek, Time, the New York Times, the New Republic and elsewhere all signing on for a war of preemption. By the time the invasion began, the de facto position among the Beltway chattering class was clearly one that backed Bush and favored war.
Years later the New York Times Magazine wrote that most "journalists in Washington found it almost inconceivable, even during the period before a fiercely contested midterm election [in 2002], that the intelligence used to justify the war might simply be invented." Hollywood peace activists could conceive it, but serious Beltway journalists could not? That's hard to believe. More likely journalists could conceive it but, understanding the MSM unspoken guidelines -- both social and political -- were too timid to express it at the time of war.
To oppose the invasion vocally was to be outside the media mainstream and to invite scorn. Like some nervous Democratic members of Congress right before the war, MSM journalists and pundits seemed to scramble for political cover so as to not subject themselves to conservative catcalls.
Mic's Elizabeth Plank fired back against Fox News' absurd anti-feminist rhetoric on the May 19 edition of Flipping The Script. Plank highlighted the outrageous claims frequently perpetuated by conservative media figures in order to discourage men from being feminists. Pointing to Fox News host Doocy asking "when did it happen, where men and husbands became doormats" and a Fox guest who claimed that all "feminism has delivered is angry women and feminine men," Plank tackled the absurdity of such claims during an interview with Orange is the New Black's Matt McGorry.
Conservative media have actively adopted a "blame feminism" approach to many of the world's problems, including sexual assault and the lack of infrastructure funding. Fox News in particular has gone as far as to blame it for boys falling behind in school and men no longer wanting to marry.
Suddenly under scrutiny for her $250 donation to the Clinton Haiti Relief Fund in 2010, Judy Woodruff, the co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, issued a statement late last week defending her modest giving. "I made the gift in response to an urgent joint appeal from former President Clinton and then-President George W. Bush for aid to the victims of the Haiti earthquake," Woodruff explained in an email to the Wall Street Journal. "Seeing the massive loss of human life and the terrible conditions for survivors, I wanted to make a contribution and saw this as a way to do that."
So it's come to this: A member of the media forced to defend her decision to give $250 to a bipartisan earthquake relief fund five years ago, to help an impoverished island nation.
Woodruff faced questions, of course, because amidst the current frenzied atmosphere, anything connected with the Clinton Foundation has officially been deemed tainted by the Beltway press. The media have teamed up with the GOP to cast every possible aspersion on the $2 billion global charity that helps people with AIDS/HIV around the world get cheaper, better medicine, battles economic inequality, childhood obesity, climate change, and fights for health and wellness. (No, the Clinton Foundation doesn't spend 85 percent of its budget on "overhead." Good grief.)
In recent days, the churning foundation storyline made an odd jump. It moved from the unproven allegations that the Clintons used the foundation to cash in government favors, and shifted to focus on the mere act of giving. Sparked by the revelation that ABC News' George Stephanopoulos had previously given generously to the foundation and hadn't disclosed that fact while reporting on foundation activities, the press began to circle donations and viewed them as potentially problematic.
It's clear Stephanopoulos should have disclosed his donations when the foundation became news and the target of endless Republican and media attacks.
But the overheated narrative now stretches beyond the issue of disclosure. Stephanopoulos was not only criticized for failing to reveal his donation, he was widely condemned for making the donation at all. Media watchdogs were swift: It was completely out of bounds for Stephanopoulos to donate to the Clinton Foundation. Why? Because it's run by the Clintons, which means it's obviously stained, right?
Mission accomplished for Republicans.
Right-wing media have a plan to solve the national crisis of poverty in America -- and it's all about "personal responsibility."
Roughly 45 million Americans live in poverty, 1 in 7 received food stamps just last year, and 20 percent of children under the age of 18 were impoverished in 2013. Politicians and media figures have offered many possible solutions to help low-income Americans break free from this systemic cycle of inequality, including expanding the social safety net and educational opportunities for all.
But over the years, conservative media have offered their own strategies. Watch as Media Matters looks back at the five easy steps they've proposed to help Americans living paycheck to paycheck find that "richness of spirit":
Fox host Elisabeth Hasselbeck suggested that the U.S. justice system was too lenient on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who received the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bombing, complaining that his right to appeal upends the "justice" of the jury's verdict.
After a federal jury sentenced the Boston bomber to death last week, Fox & Friends hosted an attorney and death penalty advocate on May 18 to discuss Tsarnaev's right to appeal his sentence. Co-host Brian Kilmeade complained that the possibility of a lengthy process could mean "we're not going to get to kill this guy, are we?" Elisabeth Hasselbeck argued, "Where's the justice" if Tsarnaev can challenge the jury's verdict:
HASSELBECK: That relief was felt in Boston. We've got friends and family there ourselves, and I think most Americans looked at this as justice is done. But now we hear about this appeals process, and we're wondering, well, where's the justice in that?
An appeal is automatic in a federal death penalty case like this one. Tsarnaev will reportedly be moved to the U.S. penitentiary for federal death-row inmates while his attorneys challenge the verdict.
Fox News' Chris Wallace cast doubt on the fact that many journalists have donated to the Clinton Foundation, asking to see a list for proof while ignoring the fact that the co-chief operating officer of the parent company of his own network donated money to the Clinton Foundation.
After ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos disclosed charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation "in support of the work they're doing on global AIDS prevention and deforestation," media falsely equated donations to the Foundation with contributions to a Democratic political campaign, ignoring the fact that the Foundation's work is expressly nonpartisan, and has been supported by numerous Republicans and conservative media figures.
On the May 17 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Wallace expressed skepticism that "lots of journalists gave money" to the Clinton Foundation after Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers asserted the Clinton campaign "is making a point of" noting donations made by journalists, adding that he'd "like [to see] that list."
But the non-profit arm of Fox News' then-parent company donated to the Clinton Foundation. The News Corp. Foundation, the charitable arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which at the time was the parent company of Fox News, donated between $500,001 to $1,000,000 to the foundation. James R. Murdoch, the co-chief operating officer of Fox News' current parent company, 21st Century Fox, and son of Rupert Murdoch, donated between $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove awkwardly tried to evade his history of failing to disclose his financial and political interests in the 2014 Senate races he repeatedly discussed on Fox News Sunday, calling himself a pundit, "not a journalist."
On the May 17 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday during a discussion of ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos' charitable giving to The Clinton Foundation, host Chris Wallace said that he had "taken some criticism this week," for hosting Karl Rove on his show in 2014 to discuss Senate races he was involved in. Rove responded that he "would talk about" his involvement in Senate races, but then attempted to evade the criticism of his lack of disclosure by saying that he is "not a journalist."
WALLACE: I've taken some criticism this week because we have you on the show in 2014 and you were talking about Senate races, and you're involved in Senate races.
ROVE: And I made those, I would talk about that. In fact, full disclosure, I've contributed to the Bush presidential library. There is no foundation engaged in supporting his lifestyle, but I've given to the Bush presidential library. But I'm not a journalist, I'm a pundit, I'm a commentator, I'm someone with an opinion.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume pushed back on Rove's excuse that he is "not a journalist," stating, "Pundits are journalists too. You write a column, right?" (Rove also repeatedly used his column at The Wall Street Journal to analyze elections in 2012 that his political groups had a stake in without disclosing those ties.)
Media are falsely equating donations to the Clinton Foundation with contributions to a Democratic political campaign. That comparison ignores that the foundation is expressly nonpartisan, and numerous Republicans and conservative media figures have supported the foundation's work.
The Clinton Foundation states that it builds "partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments, and individuals everywhere" on "improving global health, increasing opportunity for women and girls, reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, creating economic opportunity and growth, or helping communities address the effects of climate change."
The foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, which means it is "absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office."
The foundation has been under attack in recent months while Hillary Clinton has ramped up her presidential campaign. This May, Republican activist Peter Schweizer released the error-riddled Clinton Cash, which purports (but fails) to show how foundation donations affected Clinton's decisions during her time as secretary of state. And ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos correctly apologized on May 14 for failing to disclose that he had donated to the Clinton Foundation before conducting an interview with Schweizer about the foundation.