Hill’s emails should have been the least of our concerns
Well, here we are. Hillary Clinton lost the election to a racist, fearmongering, allegedly-sexually-assaulting Jack-O-Lantern. Her ongoing and unending email controversy was unquestionably her downfall in this election.
By July, she was already cleared of any wrongdoing, and two weeks before the elections there was no evidence that any new information existed, yet there was plenty of time for things to go downhill. Congress was informed that there might be some new evidence. Given the massive amount of other scandals and controversies in the election, and the fact that Clinton was cleared by the FBI, and the fact many other government officials have engaged in similar practices, the emails really should not have mattered in this election.
But they did. We were forced to endure hours of coverage and debate, constant questions and accusations of treason and criminality. This virtual non-issue became such a major affair that more coverage was devoted to the emails than any other topic during the election, combined. This, along with the blatant lack of discussion of Trump’s many criminal activities and outrageous statements, is what led to Clinton’s ultimate loss, as many people came to the conclusion that she was totally and completely untrustworthy. This was the fault of many parties, but primarily the FBI, who irresponsibly released this information with seemingly no other intent than to create doubt two weeks before the election. The media shamelessly provided continuous coverage to this issue while failing to provide an equal level of scrutiny to Trump and his rhetoric.
Throughout the entire primary season, we were forced to endure non-stop coverage of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, among other Trumped up scandals. Then in July, we found out that the FBI stated that she handled some classified emails “irresponsibly,” while she actually did not commit any wrongdoing.We thought this whole email business might be over. We still had to endure Matt Lauer wasting his time asking her about emails instead of her proposed defense policy, and Trump supporters Shouting “lock her up,” but on the whole, it seemed to have become less of an issue. Then two weeks before the election, we had another scandal from the appropriately named Anthony Weiner. During this investigation, someone in the FBI found that there was a possible connection to Hillary Clinton’s emails, and we were back at it. The coverage started up at full swing, and her poll numbers took a sharp dive. After enduring over a year of this coverage, we thought that we’d managed to get past it, but back it came, eclipsing not only Clinton’s actual policy proposals, but also Trump’s cornucopia of scandals and racism.
Studies have confirmed that the news networks spent more time on Hillary’s emails than on any other policy area. This shows a blatant disregard for facts and the balance that journalists are supposedly so invested in. The purpose of the free press is to inform the electorate, but that is not what has happened here, rather one issues dominated the entire news cycle, eclipsing real issues. The emails did not actually show anything about Hillary Clinton that was relevant to the election, such as her positions on important issues and how she would run the country as President. Furthermore, it seems that the incessant hearings and coverage, given that the Bush White House lost 22 million emails, were simply an attack against her character that was relatively unsupported by facts. Much like the endless Benghazi hearings, the emails served no other purpose than to get people to distrust Hillary Clinton.
Evidence has surfaced that there is a sect within the FBI that was actively trying to prevent Clinton from winning the presidency. According to The Guardian, “sources within the FBI told the newspaper that many agents were outraged that Comey decided to not recommend an indictment against Clinton in July.” It is both A) shocking, and B) distressing that this was not a bigger story given the amount of attention that was given to the, to quote Senator Sanders, “damn emails.” The Guardian further reported that “The FBI is Trumpland,” and that one agent told The Guardian how Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swathe of FBI personnel” and “the reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump.” The fact that the FBI was involved in influencing the election against Hillary Clinton is even more shocking when considering the fact that they decided not to release information regarding their investigations into Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin. There is now strong evidence that persons within Russia were responsible for creating fake news stories designed to influence the US election. There is currently an investigation underway by the FBI regarding Trump’s direct ties to Russia and Putin, but they have not been making any announcements. Rather, they had stated that they should not be revealing the details of their investigation as in such a close proximity to the election, contrary to the policy decision they made with regard to Clinton’s emails. Clearly, the emails were not only poorly reported on, but they were also poorly investigated by an organizations with a Pro-Trump bias that may well have influenced the election.
The amount of criticism aimed at Hillary Clinton for everything that she or her husband have ever done in this election campaign is especially concerning given the sheer volume of outrageous things that Trump has said in the last 18 months. The fact that so much focus was spent by the media on simply covering Trump but not reporting on what he actually said, while simultaneously grilling Clinton about her emails, shows a double standard that in many ways cost her the election. Trump was allowed to quickly get away from one revolting statement after another, while Clinton was forced to constantly be distracted from policy proposals to defend her use of a private email server that she was not the first person to utilize. For the record, most of the emails were asking her staffers to print things out and send money to disaster victims. Meanwhile Donald Trump insulted everyone from Gold Star families, to POWs, to the American Public, to “odd” podiums, to a Neil Young song, to common decency. He once made the statement that we should be killing terrorists families, yet that got attention only for a few days before he said something else outrageous and the media shifted focus.
It seems that in many ways the media did not know how to cover Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton was easy — focus on some scandals, because everyone loves those. But with Donald Trump the sheer volume of awful seems to have overwhelmed the mainstream media outlets into an inability to properly cover the things that he says and does. There should have been massive outrage after what he said about women, and after people began to accuse him of raping them. But there was not. There were a few days of outrage, and then there was just more talk about how presidential he was for five moments, and more coverage of emails, and then the next terrible thing that Trump said. This should have been an issue to rival that of Clinton’s emails, but it barely got a week of coverage before most media outlets moved on to something else.
What we have learned here is that the media is not only incapable of covering Trump, but that they are now incapable of being objective in general. Sensationalism and ratings obsession have taken over and replaced good journalism, and lead to this obsession with Clinton’s emails. From here what we as the American people must do is be ever-vigilant when accepting the news. We have to understand that major news organizations exist to sell themselves, not to inform the American People, and focus on smaller news organizations for our news. This does not bode well for the next four years. If they cannot cover Trump now, even after having a year and a half to try to figure it out, it seems unlikely that they will do a better job while he is president. If the major media outlets could fail so spectacularly to not cover such massive scandals and outrageous remarks that Trump has made so far, how will they be able to objectively cover the policies of his presidency, his political appointees, and his continued access to his twitter account? We have already seen examples of this, as the media skirts terms like ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Semitic’ by using ‘alt-right’ and saying that people have more conservative values. We are going to have to rely on news sources that practice objective reporting if we are to get a clear picture of what exactly is going on in a Trump presidency.
Otto Bonk is a third-year English and politics major who is moving his emails to a public server ASAP in case he ever needs to run for office or something. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.