Monday, August 24, 2015

Memo to the Clinton campaign: Stop Defending and Start Attacking.

Back in April, before Clinton ever announced her candidacy I wrote a piece advising Clinton to keep the national news media at arms length, even ignore them, and for a lot of very good reasons. I wrote that the national media was not her friend never have been ( the why's are clear enough and the subject of another article) and will always be looking for something with which to attack her.

But just as important, the  other very good reason to keep the national news media at arms length is because of something they will never admit which is they have no real influence anymore on voters. Or on anything. Except for politicians who think they have influence when they don't.  Walter Cronkite is long gone. In fact there is no one sitting in an anchor chair at CNN  right now from 6 a.m. when New Day starts till Don Lemon signs off at 11 p.m.who could have gotten a job as Walter Cronkite's gopher at CBS News back in the 60's and 70's.

My advice to the Clinton campaign  was to concentrate on giving interviews to local news  outlets and not the national media also for a  lot of good reasons.  Not the least of which that local reporters were more likely to question Clinton about issues important to their part of the country and their viewers or readers  as opposed to, like Brianna Keilar, trying to impress their friends. Especially when their friends aren't worth impressing.

For a long time it seemed that Clinton was doing just that, not because I think she took my advice but because  it seemed that people high up in her campaign were thinking the same way I was.  Much to the obvious frustration of the national media who started complaining and chafing about a lack of access.

Clinton decided to end the embargo  and gave her first national interview to Brianna Keilar at CNN which was a mistake. Not only was Keilar  universally panned in terms of a lackluster interview journalistically but Keilar's interview was one cheap shot question after another using  bogus and suspect CNN polls about Clinton's honesty as the basis of the questions when it's been CNN themselves beating the drum (or the dead horse depending on your point of view) and raising questions about Clinton's honesty and trustworthiness, then conducting suspect polls  and using them to justify the questions. Then Keilar used  something Clinton said in the interview to take the  cheapest shot possible during an interview with Trey Gowdy, the  partisan Republican chair of the Benghazi committee hearings and clearly a political hack and hatchet man. 

During her interview Keilar had asked Clinton about her turning over emails as the result of a subpoena  from Gowdy's committee. Clinton said there had been no subpoena and that she had turned over the emails voluntarily not as the result of a subpoena.

That was true. But what was also true was that Gowdy did issue a subpoena, an unnecessary one since Clinton had turned over the emails prior to receiving the subpoena.   But it gave Keilar her opening with Gowdy to take another cheap shot trying to make herself look like a tough journalist.

When Gowdy brought up the fact that he had issued a subpoena Keilar seized on the opportunity to ask Gowdy, " Is Hillary Clinton a liar"?

 It was the kind of "look ma I'm a journalist" shallow, superficial question designed to make Keilar popular with her journalistic friends who sit at the same high school cafeteria table she does,  since Keilar knew Clinton hadn't lied but was trying to point out in an answer to Keilar's original question that she had turned over the emails without being required to do so by a subpoena. That is what Clinton meant when she said there hadn't been a subpoena and unless Keilar is really, really dumb or  trying to play dumb, she knew it. But still couldn't pass up the opportunity to throw some mud because like most at CNN they think they can get away with it without complaint from Clinton.

Then there was the bogus New York Times story which claimed Clinton was the subject of a criminal investigation which also turned out not to be true but for which the Clinton campaign couldn't even get an apology and which took the Times  two days  to correct.  The dishonest and rigged CNN polls about Clinton's honesty of which I have already written will be dealt with in more depth and more specifics another time. For now it's long past due for the Clinton campaign to stop defending itself and go  on the attack. 

The Clinton campaign can start by revoking the press credentials of Brianna Keilar and let her and CNN know there is a price to pay for dishonest cheap shot journalism. Revoking credentials doesn't mean Keilar cant attend events as any member of the audience. It means she cant go where the press goes and she cant ask questions. CNN can either assign someone else or be shut out.

As for the Times the Clinton campaign response to the New York Times false reporting of a "criminal investigation" , was also incredibly weak no matter how well intentioned, as evidenced by a letter written to the Times by Jennifer Palmeri, Clinton's communications director which the Times refused to publish.

The New York Times is responsible for the three biggest journalistic stink bombs in the last 50 years, the Wen Ho Lee investigation in which it claimed Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee had committed the worst case of espionage against the United States since the Rosenbergs, allegations that turned out to be completely false and resulted in a dressing down of the Times by the judge in the case,  Whitewater, the biggest non story and non-scandal scandal in the history of journalism and last but not least, the Times bogus, erroneous  Dick Cheney fed front page stories by Judith Miller on Sadaam's WMD which was instrumental in getting the U.S. into a war based on Bush Administration lies we never should have fought.

You would think someone at the Clinton campaign would know how to hit back at the Times and hit them where it hurts - their credibilty.  The Times report of Clinton being under criminal investigation over classified emails was wrong, journalistically incompetent, ineptly sourced, and the product of shoddy journalism and incompetent editorial oversight that violated most standards of journalism 

Palmeri's response was almost apologetic when it should have been apoplectic and by its weakness sent a signal to journalists that Clinton hunting season is open and they can get away with anything and there will be no price to pay.

Imagine what Republicans would have done had the Times printed a story about the leading Republican candidate for president being under criminal investigation only to find the report was not only false but also the product of  the worst kind of unprofessional shoddy journalism, shoddy sourcing  and shoddy editorial oversight at all levels from the reporters who wrote the story to the incompetent editors who approved it.

Republicans would have rightly torn the Times credibility and their standards already much diminished, to shreds, accused it of bias, attacked their professionalism, would have demanded a front page and heartfelt apology and then still would have kicked the Times and their credibility where it hurts until the Times begged forgiveness.

They would have shamed the Times into an apology and insisted on a Times internal investigation  into how such a thing could have happened and get  a promise to hold those responsible accountable.

Instead in her letter to Times editors protesting false reporting, Palmeri said how much she respects the Times and is looking forward to a "productive relationship" in the future.

Not exactly what Trump would have said either. He would have exploded. And we saw an example of that when the Daily Beast published a false story about a bogus rape accusation supposedly made by Ivana 25 years ago which she publicly debunked.

If the Clinton campaign went on the attack over the emails and attack not just Republicans but the news media for their  self serving and empty reporting the country would respect it and approve of her toughness which would also go to what people want in a president. Clinton has the truth and facts  on her side and the news media and Republicans don't yet the Clinton campaign is always on the defensive. 

Palmeri also showed up on CNN in an interview with Cry Wolf Blitzer who asked his usual collection of questions, smacking of the journalistic smarminess he and CNN have become known for, and peppered Palmeri with questions  devoid of any underlying fact.  Palmeri was immediately on the defensive and if you were a Clinton supporter you probably watched Palmeri's interview  and defense of Clinton with your hand over your face, peeking  between your fingers.

Palmeri  put all the blame on  Republicans for the email issue and they are certainly exploiting it, but its Blitzer, CNN, the false reporting of the Times and other media outlets who jump on the bandwagon and CNN's constant slanted polling that is the core of the problem.

The least Palmeri  could have said is, " what scandal? Why do you even call it a scandal? The NY Times publishing a false report about a criminal investigation that didn't exist against a presidential candidate is a scandal. Your rigged polls on Clinton's honesty and trustworthiness is a scandal. Accusations and insinuations that no one can back up with a single fact is a scandal. Hillary Clinton using a private email server that everyone knew about while she was Secretary of State and that no one ,including the Inspector General,the State Department or the White House objected to is not a scandal. Get a dictionary."

Palmeri  let Blitzer off the hook by being deferential and instead solely  blamed Republicans for the whole mess when they are simply scavenging. 

CNN as well as other news organizations especially cable but also those vying for internet readership are at their root, parasitic.  Not just in this case but in all cases. 

When it comes to Clinton and the whole email and honesty and trustworthiness issue it  is something they created. They didn't spread the fire or pour gasoline on the fire they set the fire. There was no spontaneous reaction by the public to the issue of Clinton's emails reflecting on her honesty or trustworthiness. CNN for one created that by conducting polls that introduced those ideas for the first time with slanted questions. Then CNN used them as the basis for interviews with guests then acted like they had nothing to do with it that questions about Clinton's honesty was some kind of visceral reaction by the public.

The Clinton campaign could take them apart over that too.

To prove the point,  CNN recently switched gears trying to salvage the issue since there is still no evidence Clinton did anything wrong and  did a segment with the banner,  " Are email optics hurting Clinton's campaign"?


Nothing related to facts or truth or whether there is actually any proof Clinton did anything wrong, professionally, ethically or legally or whether any of the  accusations or misrepresentations by the press have produced any evidence.  Now it's about  optics.  Optics that CNN and the news media helped create.

And no one from the Clinton campaign calls them out on that fact alone .  Donald Trump doesn't back down from anything and media criticism has had no affect on his poll numbers. Trump even went after Fox News over the Meagan Kelly business and it was Fox News that backed down. And Trump is doing better with women voters than men.

During the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, David Shuster at MSNBC called Hillary and Bill Clinton "pimps" and reduced Chelsea to a political whore because she was helping her mother by making phone calls to supporters to raise money. Shuster called it "pimping out their daughter". Imagine the hue and cry had he said the same about Obama. The Clinton campaign's response was weak and devoid of the outrage and attack on MSNBC that was called for.  Democratic strategists, so weak and ineffective they are becoming their own category of ethnic joke, did little or nothing to come to Clinton's defense or launch an attack.   Clinton wrote MSNBC a letter of protest and MSNBC suspended Shuster for two weeks.  Two weeks.  For calling a sitting U.S. senator and former First Lady and the leading Democratic candidate for president (which had a lot to do with what was behind Shuster's slur) and a former President of the U. S. pimps. Which made their daughter a whore. That was good for a two week suspension.

Clinton or somebody, should stand up to journalists and the criticism suurounding her use of her own email server and not the .gov system  by pointing out  these facts: 

The White House email system was hacked.
The State Department email system was hacked.
The Pentagon email system was hacked.
The Office of Personnel Management system was hacked and the private information of over 2o million government employees including those who applied for TOP SECRET security clearances was stolen.

Clinton's email system was not  hacked. 

This is what the news media and Republicans are calling a "scandal". 

Clinton's email system has been referred to as " a home brew" email system as if its run by a goat on a treadmill running after a piece of cheese. The other characterization which is used repeatedly by the AP, Times, CNN, Reuters and others to re-enforce and justify the news media's reporting is the term "unsecured".  

Clinton's email system which she shares with Bill is monitored by the Secret Service .

Maybe  the best way  for Clinton to answer the email critics is to make  this pledge :

"Given that the White House email system was hacked, the Pentagon was hacked, the State Department was hacked, the Office of Personnel Management was hacked and my email server has never been hacked,  I promise  that if I am elected president I will  use the same people who set up and monitor my email server to do the same for the government."

And then say if anyone has any more questions to send her an email.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of Brianna Keilar because after the outrageously sexist travesty of the 2008 election coverage, I quit watching all cable and network news. I'm much happier and less stressed, so I'm never going back, especially to the Sunday morning "political pundit" shows. Some things are just a complete waste of time. I hope Hillary Clinton continues to answer questions calmly and accurately, and if voters again refuse to believe the U.S. is ready for a female president (which is what this is about, in my opinion), then we don't deserve her, and I wish her better. My kids will suffer, but they didn't vote for Obama, despite the 'Bots who bugged them at college, and they will again make thoughtful decisions of their own. I do wish Bernie Sanders had entered the race as an independent.