On Tuesday, the “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) morning shows all covered a New York Times report exposing how Hillary Clinton potentially violated federal law during her tenure as Secretary of State by conducting all government business with her personal email account, and when asked by the State Department to turn over the emails her staff “decided which ones to turn over."
Even though the big three provided substantial coverage to Mrs. Clinton's potential violation of federal law by using a personal email account to conduct official State Department business, the "big three" seem to be selective in which Clinton controversies they deem newsworthy.
When the Washington Post revealed that the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars in foreign donations while Mrs. Clinton worked at the State Department, including $500,000 from the government of Algeria, ABC and NBC ignored the story altogether.
In total, the networks proved 13 minutes and 2 seconds of coverage to Clinton’s use of a personal email account while at the State Department. This compared to the mere 52 seconds of network coverage from February 19-February 26, all by CBS This Morning, given to the controversy surrounding the Clinton Foundation’s practice of accepting donations from foreign governments.
From the New York Times:
It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.
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.
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.
The “big three” networks all began their Tuesday morning broadcasts by highlighting the latest Clinton controversy with CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose declaring that “Hillary Clinton is under fire this morning for possibly breaking federal rules as Secretary of State.”
Today co-host Savannah Guthrie opened NBC’s broadcast by wondering “[d]id she violate federal law and was she hiding something?” On ABC, Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced “ Hillary Clinton under fire for conducting government business using a private email account while Secretary of State. Raising a red flag about security and secrecy.
During their extensive coverage, all three networks acknowledged both the legal and political backlash Mrs. Clinton will likely experience as she considers a run for the White House but only ABC and CBS explicitly mentioned that Clinton’s staff actually sorted through her emails and selected which ones to turn over to the State Department.
Despite the “big three” all stressing the potential damage this revelation could have on Clinton’s political ambitions, NBC’s Kristen Welker made sure to provide a soundbite of MSNBC reporter Beth Fouhy who downplayed its significance:
It's hard for me to see it mattering to voters at least at this point, but this gives a huge opening for Republicans to continue to pound on Hillary Clinton as being secretive as trying to hide something.
See transcript of CBS' coverage of Clinton's email controversy below.
CBS This Morning
March 3, 2015
[Tease] Hillary Clinton may have violated federal rules when she was Secretary of State. The New York Times is reporting that Clinton exclusively used a personal e-mail account to conduct her work.
CHARLIE ROSE: Hillary Clinton is under fire this morning for possibly breaking federal rules as Secretary of State.
NORAH O’DONNELL: The likely Democratic presidential candidate used a personal email account for official government business. Margaret Brennan is at the State Department where officials confirmed that information last night. Margaret good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning. Well the State Department says that Hillary Clinton emailed from a personal account when she was Secretary of State and did not routinely hand over records to the government. That may be a violation of federal law. Now it isn’t clear why this account was created but it was discovered after the State Department requested records from former secretaries for historic documentation. According to the New York Times Clinton's aides sorted through her account and handed over 55,000 pages of e-mails.
The content has not been made public but we know 300 of them were handed over to a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. post in Benghazi. Now Hillary Clinton is not the first Secretary of State to use a personal account instead of a government one. Colin Powell reportedly did so, as well. But Clinton is the likely 2016 presidential candidate and her rival Jeb Bush tweeted this last night, calling on Clinton to here make emails public something his office has already done. Now there’s no comment yet on whether Clinton will be releasing her e-mails but a spokesperson said she did abide by the spirit and letter of the rules here at the State Department.