Profiles in Courage Media Edition, or just the realities of campaign coverage? NBC News broadcast a 15-minute interview by Andrea Mitchell of Hillary Clinton, who offered her usual denials on the e-mail scandal and refused to apologize for using a secret server to thwart legitimate oversight over her office. Almost as soon as the interview aired, more problems emerged for her narrative, including the fact that she was paying a State Department IT specialist off the books to maintain the server without ever disclosing that fact. Despite her denials, the CIA and the NGA both verified that two e-mails sent to Hillary did contain Top Secret/compartmented information regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons, including satellite-developed intelligence, which would be so obviously classified that it’s impossible to believe Hillary’s denials.
On Morning Joe earlier today, Mika Brzezinski vented her frustration at the continuing dishonesty of Hillary Clinton. Mitchell, a guest on the show, noted that she didn’t press Hillary on some points of the e-mail scandal because of time limitations — and the fear that Hillary would walk out:
One of the issues is we were told we had a 15-minute interview. I asked more than 12 minutes on the e-mails before I felt, out of concern that they would, you know, cut it off obviously, that I had to move on. So I couldn’t ask everything that I did want to ask, but I think we did get a good chance to ask a lot of questions and discover that she did not have an answer for why she did the personal server in the first place.
We can infer a lot of things from her background, from the way she was introduced to national politics in the middle of all of the troubles of her husband was incurring during the New Hampshire primary in 1992. There are a lot of reasons why, perhaps, she did this, but she’s never answered it herself. So we don’t have an explanation as to why choose only a personal server, not having the official one as well.
A few points in Mitchell’s favor: Access to politicians is usually tightly time-controlled, especially presidential candidates, so a 15-minute window is pretty common. Newsbusters actually transcribed all of Mitchell’s questions to Hillary, and at least a dozen focused on the e-mail scandal. There were only 11 other questions, two of which went to Huma Abedin’s employment arrangements at State, and a couple more questions about whether the migrant crisis in Europe reflected poorly on the foreign policy Hillary and Obama put in place. It wasn’t all softballs afterward, in other words.
In fact, Mitchell did ask the question — twice — but Hillary dodged it:
MITCHELL: Do you know what a lot of people are asking? Why? Why have just a personal system? You’ve said that it was because it was convenient.
MITCHELL: Clearly from the e-mails that were released it wasn’t convenient. There were a lot of, you know, confusing things, there were breakdowns, there were outages. Why do that? Were you trying to keep reporters or investigating committees away?
MITCHELL: What was the defensive mode?
CLINTON: Well, I had a personal e-mail. I had a personal e-mail when I was in the Senate, as the vast majority of senators do.
CLINTON: It was very convenient. I did all my business on my personal e-mail.
MITCHELL: But you’re a member of the national security cabinet.
Perhaps Mitchell could have pressed it and lost the opportunity to ask the other questions. That seems rather unlikely, though, considering the situation in which Hillary finds herself now and the high profile of NBC News. The headlines from a walkout (on NBC, of all venues!) would have been brutal, and Mitchell would have gotten tons of attention for her tenacity. It’s a strange fear to cite for a reporter of Mitchell’s stature, but in this case, she did try repeatedly to get Hillary to come clean, even if that didn’t actually succeed. One can’t fault Mitchell on effort; the fault, as Brzezinski clearly communicates, lies with Hillary’s dishonesty.
Later, the Morning Joe panel discusses the planned spontaneity and the crafted authenticity of the upcoming Hillary reboot. Mark Halperin can’t keep a straight face while describing it, noting that it’s better to show rather than tell, but “in this case, they’re going to tell.” That’s because they can’t show, and everyone on that stage knows it (via The Right Scoop):
I’ll give the last word to … David Axelrod?
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) September 8, 2015