We don’t operate inside the Beltway, so at times like this I’m just baffled. I’m talking about the Hillary emails. The Hillary apology. The Hillary scandal blown up by a media that is obsessed with making 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton into a bad person. The former Secretary of State did apologize, for what we don’t know, just days ago in a TV interview with Andrea Mitchell, who has been referred to as the Clinton hunter for decades.
The Hillary Clinton supporters that I talked to were outraged and angry. Why is she apologizing, they asked? I can’t tell you how many people have approached me to ask me this question. Too many to count.
The only reason I could see was that the media was having another angry reaction to her lack of availability to them and her refusal to cower to their narratives – these are the same people who have been selling a conspiracy based on a book about her as if it were legitimate, when the author was a known conspiracy nut with an agenda and the book had no actual facts or evidence to substantiate the claims – and they were going to make damn sure she knew who was boss.
So we got the emails the emails the emails until no one could stand it anymore, and oh my gosh, the polls dropped! You don’t say. Then the media said, look, your polls are dropping! You better talk to us about it. You need to apologize. In fact she was asked on August 4th during an NBC TV interview if she felt she needed to apologize.
Clinton was understandably taken aback. She must have been wondering if she was to apologize for the summer of fake email scandal coverage that the mainstream press had been living off of?
Now that she apologized on TV last week and ate humble pie for the media, they say she might turn this thing around.
Insert maniacal laughter here. Turn her pretty big chance especially with VP Joe Biden waiting in the wings to cancel out the Sanders influence, according to Nate Silver, to win the Democratic nomination around? Wow, I’ll bet she’s so relieved to hear that. Or could they be referring to her huge lead against many Republican contenders in their own home states? Or her huge win against them in a national poll?
No, they will say they were referring to the drop in her polls.
You know, the drop that came about because of the coverage they were doing over a non-issue.
Now they say she apologized, but she did so reluctantly. You see, she likes to “dig in”, according to Maggie Haberman and Amy Chozick writing for New York Times. The way people do when they are right, perhaps. The authors have good reason for what they are writing – they say they interviewed many close Clinton inner circle people who were desperately trying to get Hillary to apologize but she just wouldn’t. The problem is there is no context to how we got to Ground Zero in the Email Scandal that Never Existed.
There is no admission of the “long-standing antipathy” between the media and the Clintons, as Nate Silver put it, and the need for something to report on in what looked last spring to be a given for the Democratic candidate.
The emails are not an issue. The State Department has said that, the DoJ said it, Republicans have done the same thing and been less transparent about it, and all in all, the bottom line is voters don’t care about emails. They didn’t care when previous politicians took the computers and servers right out of the office.
They didn’t care when they found out that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spent $100,000.00 in state funds to destroy all of his communications as Governor of Massachusetts. “… 11 of his top aides purchased their state-issued computer hard drives, and the Romney administration’s e-mails were all wiped from a server, according to interviews and records obtained by the Globe… Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, said the governor’s aides did nothing wrong.”
Do any of you even remember this? It barely made a blip and no one asked him if he felt he needed to apologize. But it isn’t that the issue doesn’t matter- transparency matters. It’s that voters do not care.
So this drop in the polls was due to the ongoing narrative that Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted. She just has a way. I’ve seen these comments over and over again — “the way she operates” they say. When pushed for specifics, it’s all crickets but for vague references to various debunked scandals.
So what we have here is a big pile of flaming desperation.
What we have here is an Obamacare glitch redo. Remember? The press said you all didn’t want affordable healthcare – it was ruined- because the roll-out had a glitch. Never mind that the glitch was no doubt in small part to the fact that Republicans found a way to throw the system into chaos. That was not made into an issue. The issue was that there was a “glitch” and it would destroy Obama, his plan, and the entire Democratic party. EVERYONE RUN! And many 2014 Democrats followed the media’s advice to their own peril. The media also told us that Obama voters were over him in the lead up to 2012. It’s as if they live in a different world.
So here we are, back at dissecting why Hillary Clinton’s apology was so late for a scandal that didn’t exist except due to the press’s obsession with it.
It seems as if Clinton is being pushed by the same people who pushed her in 2007 to chase after something that isn’t actually going anywhere. 2008 was mostly due to the Iraq vote and the fact that Obama was a once in a generation candidate, with the message the party supporters needed at the time, Kennedy charisma and incredible powers of oration. Obama was cool temperament at a time when the country was reeling from Bush’s emotional, scattershot leadership. Clinton didn’t do anything wrong then.
The former Senator and Secretary of State is not wrong now. She had nothing to apologize for and she doesn’t need to cower to anyone. She has been the “most admired woman” in the world pretty reliably for the last decade. She doesn’t need to change herself or put on humble airs to appease the media. The people like the strong, independent, reliable, experienced and knowledgeable persona she projects. She is strong with Democrats (liberal Democrats might lean to Sanders but not as an anti-Clinton reaction, as we have pointed out before).
She can do what President Obama starting doing in his second term.
Go around the media to get a message straight to the people. Yes, candidates need to be accessible to the press and they need to answer questions when they’ve agreed to do so and they shouldn’t avoid agreeing to do so for months or an entire campaign. But the media also has a responsibility to educate people and inform them, to vet stories. That’s not what we see in our beltway media. It’s hard to guard a henhouse when you’re drinking with the hens every Friday.
Once again, we have a media more intent on proving their own importance and power than on vetting issues. Where is Jeb Bush’s apology? Where is Mitt Romney’s apology or the media asking him if he feels he needs to apologize? Oh, that’s right, no one cares what they did with their emails.
In a perfect world, Clinton would bring on some of the Obama team that helped steady the boat in the rocky waters of media turmoil. It must be tough to face a constant barrage of “you need to apologize, or you’re going to lose everything!” from people who have the power to make nothing into something.
But I disagree with the media that her apology turned this around. It turned them around, but they are still sour on how she got there. This is like trying to date someone that just isn’t into you.
It is my opinion that Hillary Clinton should take her bad self 100% in the opposite direction. These are new times. Democratic voters like her “digging in” (aka, cool disdain) when she is wrongfully attacked. They trusted her more than most politicians for years. She earned that with her serious work and dedication. That is who she is. A bit square, a bit “too” serious. But it adds up to a person the public really trusts.
Clinton was the girl who studied really hard every night to get good grades. Now she’s an enormously powerful woman who has met with world leaders as Secretary of State and as First Lady. She’s been a Senator. She has undertaken each job, as she took her job as mother, with fierce dedication. That is who she is. What we get from Hillary Clinton is someone we grew up with, someone who has always been pushing for the middle class, someone who is loyal, reliable and tough. Not someone who apologizes for things that weren’t wrong. Because to be honest, that apology came off as inauthentic and that is so much worse than a made up scandal. That will harm her brand more than any hyperventilating from Republicans and the press.
Sec. Clinton doesn’t need to fix anything or be handled out of herself out of other people’s fear.
Where is the media’s apology to Hillary Clinton? Maybe the people don’t want another decade of media bias against the Clintons. Maybe it’s time to focus on the issue that actually matter to voters.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.