Late Monday night, The New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton “exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state” and in turn “may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.”
With a story potentially as big as this one, the question ahead of the Tuesday morning network newscasts is this: Will the networks cover this story or will they do as they did regarding the Clinton Foundation stories in all but ignoring it?
Slated to appear on the front page of the paper’s print edition on Tuesday, reporter Michael Schmidt wrote that Clinton and her aides made no effort to “have her personal emails preserved...as required by the Federal Records Act” and that “[i]t is not clear whether Mrs. Clinton’s private email account included encryption or other security measures.”
While a Clinton spokesman stated that the likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate was following both the “letter and spirit of the rules,” Schmidt pointed out that:
Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.
Schmidt continued [emphasis mine]:
Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records.
But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.
The revelation about the private email account echoes longstanding criticisms directed at both the former secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for a lack of transparency and inclination toward secrecy.
Mrs. Clinton’s successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, has used a government email account since taking over the role, and his correspondence is being preserved contemporaneously as part of State Department records, according to his aides.
The existence of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi as it sought correspondence between Mrs. Clinton and her aides about the attack.
Also in the article, Schmidt quoted Thomas S. Blanton of the National Security Archive at the George Washington University as bringing out the seemingly obvious point that “[p]ersonal emails are not secure” and “[s]enior officals should not be using them.”
Of the six cable news programs that aired either when the article was posted or in the moments after on Monday night, only MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell covered the news.
In addition to wondering if the networks will cover this story, it will also be yet to be seen whether the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC will take note of a few points. As mentioned by C-SPAN on Monday night, Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a 2013 hearing that the State Department has been “as transparent as we can” and “I believe in transparency.”
Further, as The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein noted on Twitter in a link to a 2007 CNN article, a pro-Clinton group heavily criticized the Bush administration for its use of private email accounts.
When she made a public appearance before a group of women in Silicon Valley last week, the networks were all too happy to give her speech positive marks but barely covered news surrounding the Clinton Foundation and its acceptance of money from foreign governments while Hillary was Secretary of State.
By tomorrow, we will find out if this blackout and double standard continues.