Thursday, July 7, 2016

But Why Can't the Media Ever be Better?

That's the question the begs in reading Paul Waldman on Hillary Clinton. He says she has to be 'twice as good.'

"You have to be twice as good to succeed." It's something countless African-American parents have told their children, as the TV showScandal brought to white people's attention (if they didn't hear it somewhere else, perhaps from the Condoleezza Rice biography Twice As Good). The system is designed for you to fail, and people are rooting for you to fail and doing their darndest to make sure you do. Just being good isn't nearly enough."

"And it's a message I wish somebody had given Hillary Clinton eight years or so ago. Nobody ever doubted whether you were smart and capable. Yes, you've mastered all the policy details. Yes, you're possessed of an almost superhuman capacity to be knocked down and keep moving forward. But that isn't enough. When it comes to obeying every last rule (even the ones plenty of people ignore), to dotting the i's and crossing the t's, to figuring out what might look bad even if your intentions are good, to not giving your enemies even the slightest gap in your armor to slide in a sword, you have to be twice as good as anyone else. And she hasn't been."

Right, but here's the question that begs: why does she have to be twice as good? Why is she held to a different standard? Why does she have to obey rules other's-other politicians-ignore?

"When FBI Director James Comey announced the findings of the bureau's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state, it was clear that Clinton had screwed up in a significant and not entirely unpredictable way. "Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information," he said, "there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." There's also no evidence that national security was compromised, although it's possible. What we know for sure is that Clinton's political fortunes were severely compromised."

Sorry, but I have to pick another bone. How do 'we know for sure' that her political fortunes are compromised? Even comparing the latest 'Clinton Scandal' to Trump's latest outrage, I notice a perceptible difference.

With Trump I've seen folks like Chuck Todd or Wolf Blitzer or whoever, after talking about the latest thing he's said or done that would doom any other campaign say, "But maybe his supporters won't care, they never have before. We've been wrong about this before.'

That drives me nuts, because this is more or less telling those at home: 'Yes, is's messed up, but Trump is just being Trump.'

There is never anything like this with Hillary. Even someone who's generally fair with her like Waldman still has the Beltway assumption that this will hurt her politically. But the media has been wrong before. In the 90s they were sure that Monica Lewinsky would sink Bill and yet, his poll numbers kept getting higher and higher.

The week the GOP impeached him, his approval rating was at 81 percent.

"Hindsight is 20-20, of course. But it would be fascinating to go back in time and eavesdrop on the conversations between Clinton and her aides when the question of setting up that server arose. Though she has said she didn't want to bother carrying two devices around (the State Department forbade non-state email accounts to be accessible from department-issued BlackBerrys), I doubt that was more than a minor consideration; the far more likely reason was that she was trying to evade the relentless pursuit of what in 1998 she called the "vast right-wing conspiracy." She knew that they'd be all up in her business from the moment she took office, submitting FOIA requests and suing her and trying to find anything they could to use against her, not just because their loathing for her knows no limits, but so they could stop her from winning the presidency in the future."

"And she was right about that. Just look at how far Republicans went to investigate Benghazi: eight separate probes, one after the other in the hope that maybe the next one would finally prove that she had committed some ghastly act of malfeasance. None of them did, but the last did discover her emails."

"When that idea was raised in 2008 or 2009, there were reasons why it might have seemed perfectly fine. The State Department's own email system is constantly under attack from people trying to hack it, so it wouldn't necessarily be more secure than her own. Across the government (just like in the private sector), people's adherence to electronic security protocols is lax. Her predecessor Colin Powell used private email for work, and dozens of Bush administration officials used an RNC email server with minimal consequence."

"Well, regarding the issue of a private server, that's not really an invidual question of her 'penchant for secrecy' but a systemic problem with IT and government security. That her predecessors and many others have used private servers instead of the government server tells you it's not really about Hillary but a larger internal problem. Even after the furor over Hillary it emerged that Ashton Carter, the current Secretary of Defense uses private email. He continued to do it even after all the publicity she got."

"At first it looked like the GOP would go after him as well-but the story was allowed to die. Probably because that might even have relativized the Hillary story. We can't admit that anyone has ever done anything like this before, or people will realize it's not a story about her character and but the government's long term IT security problems."

It's not meant to be a good thing that black parents have to tell their kids they always have to be better than other kids so as not to get into trouble.

The point of such stories is that white folks have to do better. Stop holding them to a different standard.

But Waldman never asks why the Beltway holds her to a different standard than other politicians. I mean if you want her to accept being held to a different standard, maybe he could be so good as to explain why this is.

I tweeted Waldman to that effect. Here was his response:

"It's a 25-year long story that's way too complex to describe in 140-character chunks. But I'll get to it.."

I guess Waldman doesn't want to waste an important insight in a tweet.

Ok, so we'll be looking for it with bated breath. Seriously, I'd love to see it.

After all, Waldman doesn't deny that she's held to a different standard.

It'd be different if he'd deny it. But a number of pundits over time have admitted it.

So why is it, besides her being a woman?

I also chatted with Bill Scher on Twitter-he's another writer who is often published in Politico, Real Clear Politics, and elsewhere.

He did agree with my point about IT in government. He had a FB post:

"basically says some rules were broken because IT so bad nobody could do their jobs within the rules."

Right, so if nobody can do their jobs within the rules doesn't this mitigate against the idea that this is just about one individual politician, Hillary Clinton, who just can't be trusted?

The one thing I'll credit Scher for is that unlike many pundits on Twitter he's willing to have a conversation with you, at least.

He said that despite her tough coverage she is still doing well. Right. Maybe bad coverage helps in the sense that it motivates those of us who support her.

What's interesting is that I was never all that 'Ready for Hillary' in 2013. This wasn't because I don't like her, obviously, but it seemed early to me.

I was too busy defending Obama from unfair treatment by the media to worry about defending Hillary yet. And, it's tough to recall, but she actually had very good press during her SOS years.

Her press only really got so bad again in 2015-when she was clearly running. It was only after I heard all these folks saying 'Hillary has no right to a coronation, we're not ready for Hillary' that I became indignant.

Then I was Ready for Hillary and went to war against anyone who wasn't.

This is also why I tend not to put much stock on the idea that she really messed up with the email thing, she should have known. If the system was a mess and the IT people told her it was a good idea, why should she have known anymore than Colin Powell, Karl Rove and the RNC, or Ashton Carter?

But I firmly believe if for some reason she were the only SOS in the Internet age not to use private email, they'd get her on something else.

But if Waldman says she has to act better than anyone else, then at least compensate her by explaining why. Hopefully, we'll see this piece soon.

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