Thursday, August 25, 2016

Clinton and Trump versus the media

Oh, they still go after each other with the most trite and dogmatic of broadsides, but now that they have a common enemy ... well, now they're friends, as the saying goes.

This week's kerfuffle centers around an Associated Press Tweet that the Clinton/Democratic pushback machine seems to have determined is some kind of existential threat.  Not the story the AP filed.  The Tweet teasing the story.

Vox, Think Progress, Daily Kos and others have all returned fire denigrating and discrediting the AP for a "false", "misleading", etc. premise.  In the Tweet, not the story.  The Tweet does appear to fail on the grounds of reasonable disagreements; the definition of "meetings" and some other verification.  AP's response was to batten down the hatches, defending the details in the story ... but not so much the Tweet itself.  The Clinton campaign demanded deletion of the Tweet; the AP told them essentially to pound sand.  Maha, with the bigger picture.

The inherent conflict is, of course, that she’s accused of using her position as Secretary of State to sell favors to foreign governments and corporations and friends who donated to the Foundation. And every time some more emails from somewhere trickle out, new accusations blossom in right-wing media.

So far, however, no one has been able to document a direct quid pro quo. But again, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a problem.


Bill announced that if Hillary is elected, the Foundation would stop taking donations from foreign governments. What I hadn’t realized was that it stopped taking money from foreign governments in 2009, when Hillary became Secretary of State. But it resumed taking such donations in February 2015, which was just about the time Hillary had locked up the presidential nomination with Democratic Party insiders and money backers.

And, anyway, the foreign governments thing isn’t the only problem. What about corporations like petroleum companies that might want to influence U.S. policy?

Why couldn’t they see that could be a problem? It’s similar to the situation with Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches — why wouldn’t see have seen those might end up biting her? Why was she so determined to not release transcripts? People gripe that Clinton is owned by corporations, and this is why.

She’s gotten away with a lot this year through a combination of dishonest redirection (“Look! a Bernie Bro!”) and the fact that Donald Trump has been running the dumbest presidential campaign in U.S. history.  But when called upon to defend herself from legitimate questions and criticisms, time and time again she’s botched it.

I’ve lost track of the stories she’s given about the State Department emails, when a simple “I had a server set up that was more secure” would have sufficed, and even might have been true. More recently she tried to claim that she set up the private server on the advice of Colin Powell. Then Colin Powell denied this. Oops! On to the next excuse, I guess.

This 'pay to play' business, in whatever serious-or-not form it exists, really doesn't seem as big a deal as Rush Limbaugh's lesbian farmers, or any one of the dozen disjointed attacks on the media Donald Trump has launched -- this being the most recent one -- but because his camp is proving unable to alter the inexorable trend of this election and her camp is busy watching him self-destruct, they have resorted to having their minions look for new skirmishes to fight.

If anybody wanted to understand what's actually behind this latest Clinton scandal-not-a-scandal, David Sirota does the heavy lifting, and Jonathan Turley reminds us that the Obama administration stonewalled and slow-walked the FOIA request for three years.  But most of the responses have been along the very predictable lines of "Republicans do it too", "this is how politics works", and "she did nothing illegal".  In sum, the same excuses her lickspittles have always rejoined every time there was an ethical short-circuit on her part.  There was one creative and effective pushback, however: going after "it looks bad".  Or "optics as scandal", as the author coins it.  'The Clinton Rules' is a phrase you're going to be hearing a lot more of from David Brock's Correct the Record squads criticizing media, social and mainstream, who report on the Clintons.

Update: In an overzealous defense of Clinton, Nancy LeTourneau -- the 'optics as scandal' writer linked above -- has gone after Sirota in a very misdirected and personal attack.

Sigh.  Nobody seems to connect the purpose of Bernie Sanders's campaign and his -- oops, Our Revolution to any of this.  'Politics as usual' is pretty much the reason why so many people have and are opting out, for crine out loud.  But even Sanders has not found himself immune (as so many of his diehard believers would be shocked to learn) to the political vagaries of selling out to the status quo, as the stories preceding his -- oops, Our Revolution's kickoff last night demonstrated.

Yeah, revolution -- particularly when someone isn't exactly committed to it -- is hard work.  And especially so when it is compromised by something that smells like dead fish lying in the sun on the dock of your new lakefront summer home.  And that stench ain't optics.


paintedjaguar said...

Still waiting for someone to explain how Bernie's non-profit is going to be different or more significant than Moveon, OFA, or any of the other Dem veal pen chutes.

PDiddie said...

Good point. You may be waiting awhile.