What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 18, 2016

Jack Kelly Sunday

In Clinton v Trump, the Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly in his column this week comes up with an answer: they're both unacceptable, and it's the media's fault.

The interesting thing is that he goes back to Matt Lauer's awful interview set from September 7.

One wonders how (or whether) Jack would rewrite this column in light of Trump's continued birther dishonesty?

We can't really fault Jack for not including such a yuge assault on logic as Trump asserting (absent all evidence) that the Clinton Campaign started the birther BS in 2008 or that he ended it in 2011 (despite all the supporting evidence that he continued the attacks for 5 years after).  That news hit Friday afternoon, probably too late for Jack to submit a rewrite for Sunday's paper - so for that, for this week, he gets a pass.

But let's look at the unacceptability equivalence Jack poxes on both campaign houses.  Jack writes:
Hillary and The Donald each said the other is unfit to be commander in chief, which was the only true thing either of them said.
Then he quotes two critics, one on the right and the other - presumably since he's on CNN - on the left:
“Listening to Clinton prevaricate about her emails and Trump prevaricate about positions he holds and doesn’t entirely seem to understand once again raises the unholy horror of the fact that out of 330 million people in the United States, these are the two who have ended up in the race for the White House in 2016,” wrote New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.

The biggest loser was moderator Matt Lauer, according to Ms. Clinton’s friends in the news media.

“Matt Lauer’s pathetic interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is the scariest thing I’ve seen in this campaign,” wrote Jonathan Chait in New York magazine. His performa
So let's look at what each wrote to see if each believes that both Clinton and Trump were equally unacceptable, as Jack asserts.

First, the neocon Iraq war supporter Podhoretz:
The FBI may not have indicted her, but her conduct has been so unbecoming a leader that the American people have — polls show nearly 70 percent of the American people consider her untrustworthy. She did nothing to improve on that last night, and indeed may have harmed herself further.

But at least she didn’t spend three minutes of her time sucking up to Vladimir Putin, the way Donald Trump did. Trump not only praised the Russian thug’s leadership and cited the KGB goon’s poll numbers, but appeared to draw a comparison between Putin and Barack Obama that favored Putin. I’m the opposite of an Obama fan, but that’s just disgusting. Obama hasn’t had reporters killed, hasn’t choked off press freedoms, hasn’t swallowed up Crimea, and isn’t seeking imperial dominion of America’s geographical neighbors. [Emphasis added.]
And now the self proclaimed "liberal hawk" Chait - where he faults Lauer for doing something Kelly himself is doing, presenting a Trump/Clinton equivalence:
Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.
And then:
The average undecided voter is getting snippets of news from television personalities like Lauer, who are failing to convey the fact that the election pits a normal politician with normal political failings against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian.
Huh.   I wonder if Jack even got to that part of Chait's critique.

But let's look at Jack's anti-Clinton stuff, if only to see if it conforms to reality.  There's this:
The email scandal is old news, Mr. Lauer’s critics said. Ms. Clinton’s emails “have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have,” said a Washington Post editorial.

That’s true. But an ordinary person doesn’t have access to the nation’s most important secrets. And an ordinary person who handled those secrets as carelessly as Hillary did would go to prison.

Lt. John Lester, a former naval flight officer, told Ms. Clinton that he’d had access to “materials and information highly sensitive to our war-fighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned.

“How can you expect those who are entrusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?” he asked.
Jack then moves immediately onto the Labor Day email dump of the FBI.  He completely omits Clinton's answer to Lt Lester's question.  How interesting!  Here it is:
Well, I appreciate your concern and also your experience. But let me try to make the distinctions that I think are important for me to answer your question.

First, as I said to Matt, you know and I know classified material is designated. It is marked. There is a header so that there is no dispute at all that what is being communicated to or from someone who has that access is marked classified.

And what we have here is the use of an unclassified system by hundreds of people in our government to send information that was not marked, there were no headers, there was no statement, top secret, secret, or confidential.

I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate system. I took it very seriously. When I traveled, I went into one of those little tents that I’m sure you’ve seen around the world because we didn’t want there to be any potential for someone to have embedded a camera to try to see whatever it is that I was seeing that was designated, marked, and headed as classified.
Elsewhere in Lauer's interview she said:
But the real question is the handling of classified material, which is I think what the implication of your question was. And for all the viewers watching you tonight, I have a lot of experience dealing with classified material, starting when I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee going into the four years as secretary of state. Classified material has a header which says “top secret,” “secret,” “confidential.” Nothing — and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice — none of the e-mails sent or received by me had such a header.
Something Polifact has declared "Mostly True."  Take a look:
Information isn’t classified until a designated authority within the government declares it classified. The way that person shows their determination is by adding a header and footer to the relevant document, often tacking on a cover sheet, too — all to make it clear that the document contains classified information.

Clinton is correct that the FBI did not find any such labels in her emails.
And:
Clinton regularly dealt with classified information as secretary of state. She has said she viewed classified information in hard copy in her office, and she used other secure channels when traveling. Some emails now made public actually show Clinton’s team discussing how they couldn’t email each other classified information over the private server and instead had to move the conversation to a more appropriate venue.

In the end, Comey said the Justice Department shouldn’t prosecute Clinton because there isn’t enough evidence that she intentionally mishandled classified information, nor did investigators find vast quantities of exposed classified material.
Now go back and look at how Jack characterized Clinton's email sins.

Jack ends his piece with this:
For many journalists, whatever reflects poorly on Mr. Trump is news, whatever reflects poorly on Ms. Clinton isn’t.
Which is interesting because Jack gets the Clinton part exactly backwards - whatever reflects poorly on Clinton (even if it's mostly not true) is news. 

None of it serves as an equivalence to the billionaire bigot - who lied about his support for the Iraq war, who lied about the whole birther thing, who lied about the thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 in Patterson, NJ, who lied when he said that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the "founders" of ISIS, who trashed POW war hero John McCain, who trashed a Gold Star Family.

No equivalence at all, Jack.  Even from your rightwing skew-view, even you have to see that.

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