Hillary Clinton Deserves An Apology
Since the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump and his supporters have rallied behind the “lock her up!” chant. False charges of corruption have plagued Hillary Clinton for decades, in spite of the fact multiple federal investigations have exonerated her. Nevertheless, President Trump tried to keep his campaign promise. In his first year in office, Trump tweeted:
Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017
The very same month that tweet was sent, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions tasked US Attorney John Huber with probing claims of corruption against the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One conspiracy theory. We now know they found nothing. This week, multiple reports indicated that this DOJ investigation into the Clinton Foundation was quietly shut down after they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the Trump Foundation has been shut down and fined for illegally self-dealing and misusing charitable funds.
The news of this Clinton probe ending comes after a State Department investigation into Clinton and her aides’ use of a private email server ended without finding criminal wrongdoing in October 2019. Former FBI Director James Comey’s investigation into Clinton’s private email server also ended without criminal wrongdoing being found in 2016. It’s also important to note that the Benghazi investigation into Clinton found no wrongdoing on her part. Also, Hillary Clinton was subpoenaed in the Whitewater investigation that consumed Bill Clinton’s presidency. It found no criminal wrongdoing on her part and ended with the discovery of Bill Clinton’s affair.
After what Clinton endured from media in 2016, and throughout this presidency with Trump’s false accusations, it’s only ethical that the story of her exoneration be given as prominent coverage as her defamation. The reputational damage that Clinton has endured now appears irreparable until her career is seen through the objective lens of history. While President Trump and right-wing media’s role in these smears is widely known, let’s look back at the coverage in the 2016 election that helped build this false image of Clinton corruption.
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How The Media Helped Trump Cover Clinton With A Veil Of Corruption
During the 2016 election, the vast majority of the mainstream media covered Hillary Clinton like they were vetting the next President of the United States. On the other hand, they treated Donald Trump like the kid in the classroom who gets an A for effort. The American people were so distracted by emails/Russian propaganda and Clinton Foundation non-stories that they missed Trump’s conflicts of interest, his history of criminal fraud, the very real Trump Foundation “self-dealing” scandal, and the biggest story of all: Russia’s interference.
Rather than focus fire on a person who was demonstrating he was unfit for office, far too much of the media was consumed by negative stories about Hillary Clinton’s scandals. A 2017 Harvard study found during the 2016 election, the Clinton email scandal dominated news coverage. As we know now, some of this coverage was fueled by the emails released by Wikileaks, obtained from Russia’s hacking of the DNC.
Since the beginning of the General Election, many in the media were well aware of the fact Russia was behind the hacks and that the emails released by Wikileaks were sourced from these cyberattacks. This didn’t stop their obsessive coverage of every single leak, becoming distribution networks for Russian propaganda. Also, much of this email coverage was in reference to her use of a private email server. The Trump Administration’s wide use of private emails and messaging apps has not garnered as much scandalous media attention as Candidate Clinton’s did.
And while the focus was on Clinton, the mainstream media missed massive scandals like the Trump Foundation’s self-dealing. If you were anywhere near a TV screen or smartphone during the election, chances are you heard about the Clinton Foundation. And if you read or watched a report on the organization, you may have walked away thinking the foundation is more like the Illuminati than a charity. But you most likely didn’t hear much ado about Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold’s phenomenal reporting revealing the Trump Foundation’s “self-dealing” because the story was released on September 10, 2016. This was the day before September 11th, or in other words, the weekend Hillary Clinton had pneumonia.
What followed was some of the worst examples of click-bait journalism and ratings hungry broadcasting I have ever seen. Story after story was published about “Hillary’s Health,” and if you watched cable news that week, you would’ve had no idea that there was a Trump Foundation scandal at all.
After the election, the Trump Foundation admitted to the IRS that they were indeed, “self-dealing.” It turns out, Trump was guilty of what the media was trying to accuse Clinton of — and one of their colleagues had already uncovered it. But Clinton’s pneumonia was more important to them.
And, of course, we have the coverage of Comey’s letter to Congress about new emails he found days before the election. While Comey sent a subsequent letter claiming he found nothing, the damage to her election chances was done.
Clinton’s lead cratered after the Comey letter. https://t.co/PCnakB6EfP pic.twitter.com/ckLj3SqLQZ
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) September 12, 2017
When we interviewed 1,500 Clinton voters in 2017, they felt the media wasn’t fair to their candidate. The media’s chase for ratings, obsession with being first, false equivalency, and misogynistic double standard plagued coverage in 2016. It’s important to rehash this now because we cannot afford to have this same malpractice play out in the 2020 election.