The Media Is Covering The Clinton E-mail “Flap” Because It Is In The Media

Ken AshfordElection 2016, Political Scandals, Right Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

The media coverage of the flap/scandal/whatever surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails is embarrassing.  If you’ve been living under a rock, it has come out that Hillary Clinton, while serving as Secretary of State, used a private email server to send and receive emails, thus (arguably) violating a rule set forth by the National Archives (not a law, as in a criminal law, but a rule relating to archives).

Why is this important?  Well, it probably isn’t.  There were no security issues.  At worst, it gives ammunition to Clinton’s critics who think she is “hiding something”, but of course, they were saying that ANYWAY.  Now, of course, they are calling on Clinton to prove she didn’t destroy any email relevant to Benghazi or any other scandal (and think about that — how would YOU prove you didn’t destroy any sensitive emails?).  In other words, on the merits, the hyperventilation is way out ahead of the actual facts.

When Clinton held her press conference two days ago, the media covered it breathlessly, and almost every media outlet asked this question, in one form or another, of its reporters: “Did this press conference put the issue behind her…. or will the media frenzy continue?”

That’s right — the MEDIA was asking ITSELF if the MEDIA frenzy would continue.  And of course, the answer was “no, we have to keep covering this”.  Because nothing sells like potential scandal, even if there is no evidence of actual scandal (this is what dogged Bill Clinton during his presidency).

Paul Waldman, writing at The Week, absolutely nails the point at which MSM reporting on the Clintons so often leaves the rails:

When this email story broke, how many journalists said it was important because it “plays into a narrative” of Hillary Clinton as scandal-tainted? I must have heard it a dozen times just in the past week.

Here’s a tip for my fellow scribes and opinionators: If you find yourself justifying blanket coverage of an issue because it “plays into a narrative,” stop right there. That’s a way of saying that you can’t come up with an actual, substantive reason this is important or newsworthy, just that it that bears some superficial but probably meaningless similarity to something that happened at some point in the past. It’s the updated version of “out there” — during the Clinton years, reporters would say they had no choice but to devote attention to some scurrilous charge, whether there was evidence for it or not, because someone had made the charge and therefore it was “out there.”

“Narratives,” furthermore, aren’t delivered from Mt. Sinai on stone tablets. They’re created and maintained by journalists making decisions about what’s important and how different issues should be understood. If you’re going to tell us that a new issue “plays into a narrative,” you ought to be able to say why there’s something essentially true or significant about that narrative.