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Hullabaloo


Friday, October 23, 2015

 
You cannot take the Republicans at their word in a witch hunt

by digby


On MSNBC today, Huffington Post's Sam Stein, who is a great reporter and not a Villager in any way, defended the idea that the email controversy has produced some valuable new information about how Clinton reacted in the aftermath of the attacks (i.e. lied for PR purposes or some such.) He said that the "revelation" yesterday that Clinton's emails show she told something different to the Prime Minister of Egypt than she told others does add to our understanding of events. Journalist Kurt Eichenwald begged to differ in a big way and for very good reason:

I'm going to interrupt here, because that was not uncovered in the emails. That was from notes that were produced to the House Intelligence Committee that are in the House Intelligence Committee Report. And what was also clear from the House Intelligence Committee Report was that the intelligence went back and forth three times in the course of 24 hours. And so when Hillary Clinton was talking to the president of Egypt, at that time, she was reciting what the intelligence was .At that time. 12 hours later it was different. 12 hours later after that it was different again. But that was not from Hillary Clinton's emails.

Eichenwald has studied all the intelligence reports and the committee hearing transcripts and knows the information backwards and forwards. This is what's required if you want to truly understand the way these sorts of scandals are constructed.

I don't know if those Republicans yesterday believed they had unearthed new information or if they were lying (I suspect the latter) but it's up to reporters to b very skeptical whenever Republicans are dribbling out these "revelations." They lie, they distort and they misdirect.

I realize that the last thing any reporter wants to be is a Clinton simp. You might end up like Sidney Blumenthal. But still, if you want to be able to call yourself a journalist with integrity you have to go the extra mile and make very, very sure that what sounds like something nefarious is what it seems. And I mean a very, very thorough extra mile. These people have been doing this stuff for decades and they're very good.

Eichenwald has written an important piece on this for Newsweek and I hope that reporters who give a damn will take it seriously. This is for real:

But, as they have time and again, the Republicans on the Benghazi committee released deceitful information for what was undoubtedly part of a campaign--as Kevin McCarthy of the House Republican leadership has admitted--to drive down Clinton's poll numbers.

[...]

The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don't fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government--one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment--has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party's leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America's past are rare. Richard Nixon's attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy's red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own--they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus "scoops" ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.

[...]

Unlike almost every congressional committee investigation in history, the [Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy] has insisted that much of the relevant questioning be conducted behind closed doors.

[...]

The other reason to keep the testimony secret has rapidly become clear: so that they can selectively--and often incorrectly--portray to reporters what was said in the statements.

[...]

Other false stories repeatedly found their way into the press. There was the "criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton" article that appeared in The New York Times; once the story was knocked down, the Times sheepishly acknowledged its sources included officials from Congress. (The "Clinton is under criminal investigation" story has continued; she's not.) The Daily Beast falsely reported that Blumenthal testified he was in Libya on the day of the Benghazi attack.

.