Former NY Times Editor's Pratfall: 'Hillary Clinton Is Fundamentally Honest'

March 28th, 2016 12:40 PM

The leftist British newspaper The Guardian has signed former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson as a regular columnist on the presidential election. Already, she’s pleasing the Left with ridiculous columns, such as the brand-new one, headlined “This may shock you: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest.”

It’s only shocking because it’s like claiming: “This may shock you, but the sky is green and the grass is blue.” Hillary’s terrible ratings for dishonesty? Sexism. Abramson concluded: “It’s fair to expect more transparency. But it’s a double standard to insist on her purity.”    

No one expects any presidential candidate to have “purity” or complete consistency in their political rhetoric and actions. No one at this point even expects “fundamental honesty” from Mrs. Clinton. But Abramson sounds like she was handed copy by Women for Hillary:

For decades she’s been portrayed as a Lady Macbeth involved in nefarious plots, branded as “a congenital liar” and accused of covering up her husband’s misconduct, from Arkansas to Monica Lewinsky. Some of this is sexist caricature. Some is stoked by the “Hillary is a liar” videos that flood Facebook feeds. Some of it she brings on herself by insisting on a perimeter or “zone of privacy” that she protects too fiercely. It’s a natural impulse, given the level of scrutiny she’s attracted, more than any male politician I can think of.

I would be “dead rich”, to adapt an infamous Clinton phrase, if I could bill for all the hours I’ve spent covering just about every “scandal” that has enveloped the Clintons. As an editor I’ve launched investigations into her business dealings, her fundraising, her foundation and her marriage. As a reporter my stories stretch back to Whitewater. I’m not a favorite in Hillaryland. That makes what I want to say next surprising.

Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.

Putting the word “scandal” in quotes for every Clinton scandal is your indicator that this woman is writing as a partisan, and not a journalist. Denying Hillary’s dishonesty that everyone knows – starting with the routine months of lying about her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky – only corrodes a liberal journalist’s own image of independence. Hillary was merely "accused of covering up her husband's misconduct"?

In Abramson's brain, there is no”actual corruption” in Hillary’s entire history,” as the Guardian subhead summarizes: “I’ve investigated Hillary and know she likes a ‘zone of privacy’ around her. This lack of transparency, rather than any actual corruption, is her greatest flaw.”

The yardsticks I use for measuring a politician's honesty are pretty simple. Ever since I was an investigative reporter covering the nexus of money and politics, I've looked for connections between money (including campaign donations, loans, Super Pac funds, speaking fees, foundation ties) and official actions. I'm on the lookout for lies, scrutinizing statements candidates make in the heat of an election.

The connection between money and action is often fuzzy. Many investigative articles about Clinton end up "raising serious questions" about "potential" conflicts of interest or lapses in her judgment. Of course, she should be held accountable. It was bad judgment, as she has said, to use a private email server. It was colossally stupid to take those hefty speaking fees, but not corrupt. There are no instances I know of where Clinton was doing the bidding of a donor or benefactor.

In other words, Abramson is displaying her generosity by saying there is nothing fundamentally dishonest about, for example, deleting thousands of e-mails the Clintons claimed were “personal.” By this standard, Nixon putting an 18-minute gap in a secret recording wasn’t dishonest, it was just overly protective of a “zone of privacy.”

Abramson suggests a sympathy to Hillary for distrusting the liberal media like it’s part of the right-wing conspiracy:

Clinton distrusts the press more than any politician I have covered. In her view, journalists breach the perimeter and echo scurrilous claims about her circulated by unreliable rightwing foes. I attended a private gathering in South Carolina a month after Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. Only a few reporters were invited and we sat together at a luncheon where Hillary Clinton spoke. She glared down at us, launching into a diatribe about how the press had invaded the Clintons’ private life. The distrust continues.

Earth to Abramson: Clinton distrusts the press because she expects it to be her footstool. She is no different than Donald Trump in expecting every story to be positive, selling her greatness. Then comes the hoary claims of sexism:

Colin Diersing, a former student of mine who is a leader of Harvard’s Institute of Politics, thinks a gender-related double standard gets applied to Clinton. “We expect purity from women candidates,” he said. When she behaves like other politicians or changes positions, “it’s seen as dishonest”, he adds. CBS anchor Scott Pelley seemed to prove Diersing’s point when he asked Clinton: “Have you always told the truth?” She gave an honest response, “I’ve always tried to, always. Always.” Pelley said she was leaving “wiggle room”. What politician wouldn’t?

If anyone remembers Jill Abramson feeling the pain of a double standard of media coverage for Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman, please send a link. Then the piece de resistance? Hillary is honest because she has good ratings from the liberals at PolitiFact:

As for her statements on issues, Politifact, a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization, gives Clinton the best truth-telling record of any of the 2016 presidential candidates. She beats Sanders and Kasich and crushes Cruz and Trump, who has the biggest “pants on fire” rating and has told whoppers about basic economics that are embarrassing for anyone aiming to be president.     

Let’s go back to the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, which found in 2013 a serious tilt on the “Truth-O-Meter”:

As for the entire four months, CMPA found PolitiFact rated 32 percent of Republican claims as “false” or “pants on fire,” compared to 11 percent of Democratic claims – a 3 to 1 margin. Conversely, Politifact rated 22 percent of Democratic claims as “entirely true” compared to 11 percent  of Republican claims – a 2 to 1 margin.

A majority of Democratic statements (54 percent) were rated as mostly or entirely true, compared to only 18 percent of Republican statements. By contrast, a majority of Republican statements (52 percent) were rated as mostly or entirely false, compared to just 24 percent of Democratic arguments.

Robert Lichter, CMPA's longtime president, asserted “While Republicans see a credibility gap in the Obama administration, PolitiFact rates Republicans as the less credible party.”

This is not to say that PolitiFact is only fair if each party is rated as 50 percent True and 50 percent False. But when the last two pages of their “Pants on Fire” page finds 22 citations of Republican candidates and officeholders, compared to six Democrats, one can suspect they are fundamentally untrustworthy.

Tell the Truth 2016