Lefty Writer: ‘Much Truth’ to Idea That ‘National Media’ Are ‘Primed to Take Down Hillary’

Never mind the vast right-wing conspiracy, suggests Michael Tomasky in the June 25 New York Review of Books. What Hillary Clinton needs to concern herself with are 1) a possible vast mainstream-media conspiracy and 2) her and her husband’s propensity for shadiness and avarice.

In a nearly 3,800-word article that’s ostensibly a review of Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash but in classic NYRB fashion is more about issues related to the book in question, Tomasky delves into topics including Clinton Foundation fundraising practices; the Clintons’ whopping income from speechmaking; and how they should clean up their act regarding both so that they don’t impede Hillary’s presidential campaign.

Tomasky also analyzes, and largely endorses, the idea stated in early May by Politico’s Dylan Byers that “the national media have never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and, by the same token, elevate a Republican candidate).” Tomasky specifies one extremely prominent northeastern liberal newspaper that’s “worth keeping an eye on” given its putative record of anti-Clinton reporting.

From Tomasky’s piece (bolding added):

…[T]he book’s fatal flaw [is that] Schweizer doesn’t engage in journalism…

Investigative journalism involves three basic parts. First, a reporter collects his documents…Step two is finding sources who can discuss the documents and what lies behind them…And third, a journalist goes to the target of his allegations and gives the target a chance to respond…

Schweizer largely dispensed with steps two and three…

When you don’t do these things, your story has a way of collapsing…

…Byers [wrote that] “the national media have never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and, by the same token, elevate a Republican candidate).” Not primed to investigate, or primed to scrutinize, or even primed to rake over the coals. Primed to take down.

I think there is much truth in Byers’s assertion…For some, maybe it’s simply that she is such a clear front-runner, and they want to slay Goliath. There is likely some sexism involved, whether conscious or unconscious. Maybe some do believe that the Clintons are unusually corrupt. Also, in fairness, it must be said that the Clintons, especially Hillary, have never been very accommodating to the press, so the traffic on this street runs two ways.

But at bottom, there seems to be a feeling—and I am talking here about the mainstream, even “liberal,” media, not conservative outlets—that the Clintons play by their own rules and keep getting away with one thing or another. Washington is a city of custom, and the permanent class of insiders who live here have fashioned a certain set of rules for all who come here to live by, and the Clintons have never really lived by those rules...

The New York Times is worth keeping an eye on here. It will endorse Hillary Clinton when the time comes, but the far more important question is how it will use its news pages to write about her between now and then. It was shocking that the Times based a piece on Clinton Cash, a book with an obvious political motive…The paper that pushed the Whitewater story hard in 1992 and in 1998 ran a series of editorials calumniating Bill Clinton and praising prosecutor Ken Starr is now apparently prepared to continue in that tradition. In recent weeks, the Times has published two more articles along these lines, one about Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham, and another about Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal. Whether it will devote similar resources to scrutinizing Jeb Bush or other prospective Republican nominees seems a fair question.

Meanwhile, though, the Clintons need to think about and address their own situation as well. It is precisely because she is the all-but-inevitable candidate on whom so many hopes will be pinned that she has a clear responsibility, as does her husband, to take into account these media biases and still do everything they can to make these allegations float away.

As I’ve written previously, they should announce, and soon, a series of dramatic steps they will take to change the way the foundation does business...

And with respect to the speaking fees, while she stopped taking them once she became a candidate, it’s a little hard to understand why he can’t just stop for a while…

They need to do better than this, and not just for political reasons, but because judgments about their integrity and future use of power are at stake. It’s one thing to be secretary of state. It’s another to be the president. A presidency can’t have questions like this swirling around it from day one…

The record so far suggests, though, that the Clintons won’t take dramatic steps. They’ll take just enough steps.

Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Liberals & Democrats Politico New York Times Clinton Foundation Michael Tomasky Dylan Byers Hillary Clinton Bill Clinton


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