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Thursday, August 3, 2023
MRC Plays The Clinton Equivocation Card To Distract From Trump's (Second) Indictment
Topic: Media Research Center

In addition to general deflection tactics and hypocritically defending a Trump-appointed judge against bias accusations, the other main way the Media Research Center defended Donald Trump against his (second) indictment was to play the ol' Clinton Equivocation. Kevin Tober set up the equivocation in a June 11 post:

Two days after the unsealing of the 37-count indictment against former President Donald Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home, ABC's This Week co-moderator George Stephanopoulos was full of partisan sanctimony. After a highly-partisan opening monologue and subsequent panel discussion of Trump's legal woes, the former Clinton administration official turned to Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. It did not go well for him. 

"Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he did nothing wrong," Stephanopoulos noted. Do you believe that?"

The Senator didn't take the bait and instead turned it around on the Democrat activist. "Well, here’s what I believe. We live in an America where if you’re the Democratic candidate for President, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, you can set up a private server in your basement to conduct government business," Graham said before getting rudely cut off. 

Graham angrily shot back: "No, let me finish!" 

Shoving his leftist bias back in his face, Graham rebutted "I am trying to answer the question from a Republican point of view. That may not be acceptable on this show."

Tober went on to quote Graham saying that "Hillary Clinton did very similar things and nothing happened to her."

But Tober won't tell you that Graham is wrong -- Clinton's case and Trump's case are not remotely the same. As Dean Obedallah explained at CNN:

After an investigation lasting nearly a year, then-FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not recommend filing any criminal charges against Clinton, who was the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee at the time.

Comey stated that in looking at previous Department of Justice investigations concerning “mishandling or removal of classified information” there was always some combination of the following: “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.”

Comey concluded, “We do not see those things here,” although he criticized Clinton for being “extremely careless” in the handling of sensitive, classified information.

In contrast, allegations of repeated intentional conduct are at the heart of the case against Trump. For starters, 31 of the 37 felony counts that Trump faces are for willful retention of national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act.

The fact that the comparison has no basis in reality didn't keep the MRC from repeating it, of course. Nicholas Fondacaro huffed in a June 12 post:

In a grade-A example of CNN not caring about its credibility as a news organization during Monday’s Inside Politics, the network trotted on disgraced former deputy director of the FBI turn CNN analyst, Andrew McCabe, who was fired for leaking to the press lying to investigators about it. He was tapped to defend two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for keeping classified information on her personal e-mail server.


McCabe proceeded to downplay the fact that Clinton had classified material on her server, arguing that they weren’t hard copies of documents but rather communications of sensitive topics:

In addition to those, we found thousands more emails that she exchanged with people, the total classified materials seized from that review, were essentially 55 email conversations, strings of emails in which eight were classified top secret, 37 secret, and 10 confidential.

Now, it's important to remember those weren't classified documents that was simply the content of email exchanges that was later deemed to be classified. These weren't documents with classified stampings on the tops and bottoms and cover sheets and all that kind of stuff.

“Should it would have happened? No. But what we didn't have was evidence that Hillary Clinton had intentionally exchanged or withheld classified information. And that's just what we could and could not prove at the end of the day,” he asserted, omitting the fact that Clinton’s hard drive and cellphone were not properly disposed of.

Fondacaro did not mention that the charges against trump center on his refusal to return classified documents and deceiving officials about having them.

Alex Christy attacked those trying to set the record straight:

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle used Monday’s edition of The 11th Hour to deliver a solemn monologue “for fact’s sake” to attempt to discredit the “misinformation” being spread by Republicans that seeks to compare President Trump’s classified documents indictment to classified documents-related scandals that did not result in indictments. However, Ruhle left out several bits of information and rewrote the law in question when seeking to defend the decision not to charge Hillary Clinton for her e-mails server.

Beginning her pretentious fact-check, such as it was, Ruhle addressed the audience, “Okay, so, let's give you some facts. President Biden is currently under investigation for storing classified documents in his Wilmington, Delaware, garage. McCarthy and other Republicans are just deflecting here, and they're asking, why Hillary Clinton, why Mike Pence? And Biden, why aren't any of them charged?”

As for Pence and Biden, “Well, for fact's sake, here is why that argument is flat out wrong. In the cases of Joe Biden and Mike Pence, aides from both men found classified documents, immediately contacted authorities, turned them over, and allowed the searches of their properties. The Justice Department closed the Pence case without an indictment. The Biden investigation is still ongoing.”

Moving on to Clinton, Ruhle recalled, “Former FBI Director James Comey never brought a case about her emails because he said no reasonable prosecutor would. That is partially because they couldn't determine if there was any intent. As for Donald Trump, the federal government had to subpoena him because they suspected he had not turned over all of his classified documents.”

Ruhle omitted four things in that explanation. First, the law does not only mention intent, but also “gross negligence”. Second, she deliberately deleted all her e-mails under the justification that they were not work-related, but the FBI eventually recovered some e-mails that were work-related, including some that were related to the 2012 Benghazi attack. Third, e-mails are not tangible objects like boxes full of paper. Fourth, the Clinton camp used hammers and BleachBit on the server.

Christy concluded by huffing, "As the fact-checkers might say, this claim is 'missing context.'" But he omitted important context himself -- namely, that very few of the emails in Clinton's server that contained classified information were actually marked as classified, unlike with Trump.

A June 14 'flashback" post by Bill D'Agostino refreshing admitted he didn't know what he was talking about as he n evertheless tried to play the  Clinton Equivocation:

This piece was not written by a lawyer, and it will contain no Venn diagram-style analysis comparing the mishandling of classified information by former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At issue here is the media’s stubborn refusal even to try to frame either case fairly.

For Trump, the allegations in the indictment are themselves proof of his guilt. In fact, his guilt was assumed long before the indictment was even a twinkle in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s eye. For the media, the prosecutorial process is a spectacle to be enjoyed in the aftermath of the Justice Department finally “getting” the bad orange man.

Not so for Mrs. Clinton. It’s not just that viewers weren’t bombarded with long lists of Clinton’s many malfeasances — though, of course, they weren’t. But the media were so resistant to discussing Clinton’s emails that many refused even to admit that there was a scandal.

If you were watching TV news back at the height of the email saga in 2015 and 2016, you were subjected to daily lectures about why nobody actually cared about Hillary’s emails, and why you shouldn’t either.


So while the facts of Trump’s and Clinton’s cases were indeed different, they were far more similar than the media’s handling of them.

Clay Waters whined the same day:

Tuesday’s edition of the tax-funded PBS NewsHour aired a segment on Trump’s latest indictment, over classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate, that was devoted to neutralizing Republican accusations of a double standard between the political parties over document-related prosecutions, using an unlabeled Democratic lawyer and operative as cover.

Republicans have counterattacked the Biden Justice Department by bringing up the case of Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state and the thousands of emails, dozens of which were classified, that she irresponsibly hosted on her private home server. She deleted thousands of e-mails using the justification that they weren’t work-related, but the FBI eventually recovered many that were. A hammer was used to destroy government phones that showed evidence of the private email service, and her server was wiped with a file cleaning program called BleachBit.


Then came the source to explain it all: A Democratic national security attorney! Mark Zaid is a familiar face on the, previously explaining why the mishandling of classified documents by former President Trump and current president Joe Biden (while serving as Barack Obama’s vice-president) were “incredibly different.” Now that the case against Trump has been elevated to felony stature, Zaid’s humming the same Democratic tune.

The guy singing the Republican tune stuck to the songbook by complaining about Zaid but not countering it -- not even the part where he pointed out that much the classified information on Hillary's server was deemed so after the fact.

Tober was back to spread the misleading talking point again in a June 18 post hyping Mike Pence's appearance on "Meet the Press":

Pence complained that Trump being indicted while Hillary Clinton is allowed to roam free is “one more example of a two-tier justice system that we've been living through for seven years.”

“I mean I have to tell you after seeing Hillary Clinton given a pass,” Pence noted before getting cut off by an irritated Todd.

“By your Justice Department. It was by a Republican,” Todd said frazzled. “Jeff Sessions had another U.S. Attorney look into everything with the Clinton Foundation and didn't bring charges.”

Pence correctly responded that “Hillary Clinton was given a pass and then, we went two and a half years through a Russia investigation, that we now know from the Durham Report should’ve never been begun.” 

Tober was not about to admit that Todd is right, or to mention that Hillary's case is much different from Trump's -- he's paid to spread right-wing narratives, not tell the truth.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:48 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 7, 2023 5:38 PM EDT

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