This has been an odd season in politics. We’ve seen David Sirota do first-class work on the financial connections between the Clintons and those who benefited from Hillary’s tenure at State, especially arms dealers and how they enriched the Clintons personally as well as their foundation. Now we have Mother Jones exposing the easy manipulation of the mainstream media by Hillary Clinton, based on the first release of e-mails from the State Department from the Hillary trove belatedly and begrudgingly turned over in the face of a subpoena.
Second look at Bernie Sanders as the GOP’s best oppo-research motivator on the Left?
But some of the more intriguing exchanges involved the media—how her team sought to shape the news, the journalists they considered receptive to their message, and the close degree to which Clinton monitored how she was covered.
Much of this email traffic involved Philippe Reines, a senior advisor and spokesman for Clinton known for his combative exchanges with the press. One email thread that underscored the Clinton team’s focus on message-control came in late May 2009, ahead of a meeting of the Organization of American States. Its member-nations span North and South America and were poised to vote on whether to revoke Cuba’s decades-long suspension from OAS. …
Reines replied with a lengthy email explaining why the narrative was not as “dire as it seems in the moment.” He noted that President Barack Obama would be delivering a major speech in the Middle East the following day that would “blanket coverage and extinguish the Cuba stuff, so we just need to weather the night.”
we are suffering from two significant tactical problems: 1) you are here and removed 2) our press corps was out of position today and in flight, so the people we worked on all week and the ones likely to skew our way were replaced by reporters not connected to us. The two issues above will be rectified tomorrow in your two interviews – especially Greta who is malleable. We can use that to make a strong case on the principle, and the simple fact Cuba wasn’t in the OAS yesterday, and won’t be tomorrow. Everyday that passes reinforces that point. The time difference to East Coast will help us in moving whatever is said in these interviews tomorrow.
Emphases mine. The revocation of the suspension turned into a short-term diplomatic embarrassment to the US and Hillary, who had pressed for Cuba to demonstrate progress before readmittance to the OAS. MoJo’s Daniel Schulman recounts how Hillary managed to snow Greta van Susteren into the narrative that this had been a US diplomatic coup instead. The more important point isn’t the malleability of van Susteren — there isn’t any evidence that she actually bought this spin — but the fact that Reines believed that Hillary had a group of reporters assigned to her (“our press corps”) on which they could rely to report their spin as fact.
It’s also worth noting the OAS scrap in light of Obama’s announcement today of the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba. The Castro regime hasn’t improved a whit in the six years since this issue came up, and instead of holding tough on Cuba, Obama has capitulated entirely. That should be a much bigger diplomatic embarrassment for the Obama administration, but “his press corps” has been busily spinning it into a Big Win For Team O.
Plus, there’s more direct manipulation through the use of mainstream-media proxies. Maybe CNN should account for its decision to use Paul Begala as a political analyst after this exchange:
— Greg Pollowitz (@GPollowitz) July 1, 2015
The media manipulation goes all the way down to the level of Sunday newspaper throw-away inserts. Schulman highlights another e-mail to Hillary from Lynne Forester de Rothschild, a longtime Hillary donor, who acted as an emissary from Les Gelb, chair of the Council on Foreign Relations and now a contributor to The Daily Beast. At the time, the former New York Times journalist wanted to write a profile of Hillary for Parade, the freebie newspaper insert, but wanted to assure Hillary of his loyalty:
I spent yesterday with Les Gelb on Nantucket. He had lots to say which might be of interest, but I thought the most important thing to tell you is to make sure you are aware of the Parade magazine piece he wants to do about you. He would like to do a day in your life, when you meet with members of Congress and international figures. He wants to show the impact you are having domestically and internationally. He said he would give you a veto over content and looked me in the eye and said, “she will like it”. Maybe you know this, but did not want it to fall between the cracks. Enjoy your vacation and love to all of you.
Gelb did get his story, after Hillary and her staff planned what amounted to Les Gelb Day at the State Department, according to other related e-mails. How did the former NYT newsman handle his subject? With the kind of detached objectivity one will undoubtedly see from the media’s coverage of Hillary in 2016:
“The Secretary, with her unfailing smile, repairs to her office for more calls and reading. It’s hard to read the mind of someone frozen in the public spotlight like Hillary Clinton. She has to be perpetually onstage. But what I think I glimpse beneath the unflagging smile and constant concentration is a very tired person—tense, frustrated, but absolutely determined to make her tenure as Secretary of State a success and to accomplish important things.”
Er, was it an unfailing smile, or an unflagging smile? There may be a subtle difference in obsequiousness that is difficult for anyone outside the objective-news media to distinguish. And it’s not difficult to “read the mind of someone frozen in the public spotlight” when the writer and reader of minds coordinates the coverage with his subject and her staff. Parade readers didn’t get told that Gelb set the whole thing up as an exercise in hagiography, but it’s not as if anyone reads Parade these days anyway.
The Daily Mail has a little more fun with Hillary and her inability to comprehend the high tech world of … fax machines:
Twitter let out a collective guffaw Tuesday night in the direction of a December 2009 email exchange between Clinton and Abedin – who invested 15 minutes trying to teach her boss how the handset on a fax machine worked.
‘Can you hang up the fax line?’ Abedin wrote. ‘They will call again and try fax.’
‘I thought it was supposed to be off [the] hook to work?’ Clinton responded.
‘Yes,’ Abedin wrote, ‘but hang up one more time. So they can establish the line.’
‘I did,’ Clinton replied.
‘Just pick up [the] phone and hang it up. And leave it hung up,’ Abedin shot back.
‘I’ve done it twice now,’ replied a befuddled Hillary.
The article also points out a strange e-mail order from Hillary to have another staffer fetch her some iced tea, which looks not just impervious but clueless. Who does that by e-mail? Why not just pick up the phone and ask? Maybe Hillary was waiting for an incoming fax.
The Daily Mail might be more entertaining, but the Mother Jones analysis provides more fertile ground for conservatives who are already concerned about the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton. One imagines that Mother Jones will be much less interested in this kind of analysis when progressives like Bernie Sanders either flame out of the primary or fade away, even though the months ahead promise many more insights into mainstream-media coordination between Hillary Clinton and her press corps. It might be worth attending a Sanders event or two just to keep those progressive media outlets focused on media corruption.