Lazy Saturday Reads: The Media’s Endless Harassment of Hillary Clinton

Woman reading, Jean-Baptiste Emile Corot

Woman reading, Jean-Baptiste Emile Corot

Good Afternoon!!

For the first time since she announced her candidacy for POTUS, the media spend two days noticing that Hillary Clinton is winning in the national and state polls and with many experts–including Republicans–who know what it takes to be President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. That ended yesterday after Hillary answered questions from “journalists” at a meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Two of the “journalists” asked about her emails and about why everyone supposedly hates her.

The reviews were scathing. Here’s one of the hundreds of negative reactions, this one from Slate: Hillary Finally Gave a Press Conference. It Was a Master Class in Obfuscation.

In Friday’s press questioning, the trouble began when she was asked her first question about her private email server and recent statements about that server which independent fact checkers have labeled as categorically untrue. Clinton’s responses here—and her previous responses to questions about the truthfulness of past statements—are so overly legalistic and convoluted that they are difficult to even explain. But here’s a shot.

Last month, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asserted to Clinton that FBI Director James Comey said her public statements about which documents on her private email server were classified and which were not were untrue. In actuality, Comey declined to address the truthfulness or lack of truthfulness of those statements in Congressional testimony on the matter. But in announcing his investigation into her server—which cleared Clinton of any wrongdoing—Comey implied that she had either misled the American public about her poor handling of material she should have known was classified information, or been incompetent in doing so. “Even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it,” he said. Clinton had previously claimed: “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time. I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified.”

In response to Wallace’s question claiming that Comey had said she was not telling the truth, Clinton said this: “Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

painting by Gerrit Albertus Beneker

painting by Gerrit Albertus Beneker

But the “fact checkers” say she’s lying. And of course this is so much more important than the idea of Donald Trump having access to the nuclear codes or that he is likely being manipulated by Vladimir Putin. It makes no difference to the media that Hillary did nothing criminal, that she will not be indicted, and never was even in danger of being indicted. Her emails are the only “issue” that matters to those in the DC media bubble. Read the rest of the article at the link if you are interested in intense parsing of every word that comes out of Hillary’s mouth.

Here’s Charles Pierce: Somehow Hillary Clinton Made the E-mail Mess Even Worse Today. Trump is imploding. Hillary should be soaring. What’s wrong?

At least Pierce admits that most voters don’t give a flying fuck about her emails. They voted for her by the millions in the primaries and she is way ahead in the polls. This should be a dead issue. But it will never die. Pierce also draws attention to another question that Hillary was forced to answer yesterday–in so many words, “why does everyone hate you?”

…she sat for questions, which is the closest she’s come to an actual press conference in over 200 days, something that’s been the topic of insufferable whining from our elite political press. Said whining was represented ably by Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post, who prefaced his question by being fairly snotty.

“We encourage you to do this more often with reporters across the country, especially those news organizations that travel the country with you wherever you go.”

Tough guy.

Pierce left out O’Keefe’s actual question which was a demand for her to answer why people think she’s so untrustworthy, and how can she possibly lead the nation when that’s the case. Gee, I wonder why Hillary chooses not to give press conferences?!

But Pierce has no mercy on Clinton for her response the the email question. He quotes part of her answer and then writes:

That is not within an area code of satisfactory.

Hell, it’s barely in the neighborhood of English. It is legalistic gobbledegook. You can turn an ankle trying to get from premise to conclusion in that tangled thicket of weaselspeak. It ought not to matter at this point, and it never has mattered all that much to me, but, Lord above, if HRC and her people ever wonder why her trust numbers are so abysmal, they ought to read back her answer to that question.

That’s the way you talk when the mule you sold somebody died on the way home.

Remember, folks, we are talking about emails after it has become clear that Hillary did nothing different from previous Secretaries of State and thousands of other government officials whose emails have not been examined. Furthermore we’re talking about it after the case has already been decided in Hillary’s favor. Finally, James Comey (a Republican) is not the final arbiter on what is or should be classified, and he went against DOJ rules when he spoke publicly about the case.

painting by Ivan Kramskoi

painting by Ivan Kramskoi

This morning, the New York Times actually attacked Clinton for putting her hand on her heart when she is speaking!

When Hillary Clinton told her audience at a rally in Las Vegas on Thursday “Here’s what I believe,” she punctuated those words with not just a vocal flourish but a physical one. Up went her hand, placed over her heart.

It’s a gesture unfamiliar from her past campaigns, but it’s a favorite this time around. In Columbus, Ohio, and Omaha, Mrs. Clinton spoke of her late father, and up went her hand, placed over her heart.

At the Democratic National Convention, when she took the stage to wild applause, she cued the audience on how grateful, moved and humbled she felt by putting her hand to her heart, once, twice, then a third and fourth time.

It’s a subliminal message of sincerity that some language experts consider contrived.

Bill McGowan, a communications coach and chief executive of Clarity Media Group, calls the hand-on-heart motion “the gesture du jour.” He said he has noticed that other politicians have adopted the habit, and he doesn’t think it’s entirely artless.

“Voters are more and more wise to the fact that speeches are carefully constructed and vetted, yet at the same time there is so much demand for a higher level of authenticity,” Mr. McGowan said. “Candidates are looking for anything that makes them seem like they are speaking genuinely from the heart, and not from a thoroughly vetted key message document.”

Oh my God! Putting her hand on her heart? She’s the Devil! Has anyone ever written an article like this about Donald Trump’s hand gestures?

I wish I could stop caring so much about the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton, but I can’t. I hate what they are doing to her. Anyway here are some antidotes to the media hatred.

Read more of Melissa’s tweets here.

Peter Daou also posted a stunning and insulting CNN interview with Hillary in 1996 that shows how far back the media harassment of her goes.

In his piece on the video, Daou quotes Melissa McEwan:

The thing we have to understand about these interviews is that they’re not about trying to establish facts about Hillary’s fundamental truthfulness or integrity. They’re about an attempt to hurt her on camera and capture her pain. The persistent exploration of negative feelings toward Hillary is about shaming her, about replicating the visceral responses many people have to women seeking power.

Finally, here’s Peter Daou on the “hand on the heart” story: NYT Chastises Hillary for Putting Her Hand on Her Heart — What’s Next, Breathing?

In the past week, like every week before it, the national media have worked overtime to convince the public that Hillary is a liar, continuing their interminable obsession with her State Dept. emails. Even while she’s leading her unhinged opponent by wide margins, they continue to characterize her as a loser….

Now we get this inane and insulting piece from the New York Times rehashing the stale “Hillary is inauthentic” narrative….

Got it? She’s “contrived.” According to our national media, nothing Hillary says or does is real. She’s just a cold, robotic, scheming, lying ambition machine.

Back in March of 2015, I identified the dominant anti-Hillary frames — see if you recognize them:

• CALCULATING (Scheming, crafty, manipulative)
• SECRETIVE (Suspicious, paranoid, uncommunicative)
• POLARIZING (Divisive, alienating)
• UNTRUSTWORTHY (Corrupt, deceitful, dishonest, unethical)
• OVER-AMBITIOUS (Will do or say anything to win)
• INAUTHENTIC (Disingenuous, fake, unlikable, insincere)
• INHUMAN (Machine-like, robotic, abnormal, cold)
• OVER-CONFIDENT (Inevitable, defiant, imperious, regal)
• OLD (Out of touch, represents the past)

Now think about the profoundly misplaced priorities of the NY Times (and other major media outlets) whose singular mission is to mangle Hillary’s public image even as we face the possibility of a Trump presidency.

It boggles the mind.

Exactly what do there “journalists” want Hillary to do? Would they be satisfied if she got down on her knees on stage and cried for mercy? I doubt it. Do they want her to withdraw from the race for POTUS and cede the presidency to Donald Trump? Do they want her to be flogged in the the public square and then tarred and feathered? I honestly don’t think anything would satisfy them.

Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


Where is Iman al-Obeidi?

Iman al-Obeidi

The Libyan government claims she has been released and is staying with her sister in Tripoli. But al-Obeidi’s parents say she is still being held in Gaddafi’s private residence. Her mother also says that al-Obeidi has been offered a bribe to change her story.

The mother of Eman al-Obaidi said she received a call from an unidentified person purportedly representing the regime, the parents told Al Jazeera news.

The caller asked the family to tell Ms al-Obaidi to change the rape claim in return for her freedom and benefits, including a house or money, according to the victim’s mother.

According to the UK Telegraph,

Aisha Ahmad, who lives in the rebel-held eastern town of Tobruk, told The Washington Post she had passed on the request to her daughter, who had rejected it.

“I am very happy, very proud,” said Mrs Ahmed.

Iman al-Obaidi, a 26-year-old law student in Tobruk, was held last week after she burst into a Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying and told them of the attack.

“Film me, film me, show the whole world what they did to me,” Miss Obaidi had screamed, as she was dragged off by security guards.

Musa Ibrahim, the Libyan government’s spokesman, said Miss Obaidi has been freed, “but the prosecution is still questioning her to determine the circumstances (of her claim).”

So if government agents are questioning her, are they doing it at Gaddafi’s palace or in her sister’s home? Is the sister al-Obeidi is supposedly staying with the same sister her was used by the Libyan government to smear her? <a href="“>From the Guardian story:

…a man claiming to be her cousin told Reuters that Obeidi was targeted by authorities after taking part in a protest in the west of the country during the initial days of the uprising against Gaddafi.

Wadad Omar said his cousin worked for a tourism company in Tripoli and was detained along with three other women who took part in the protest as they returned to the Libyan capital.

The government also used Obeidi’s sister to denounce her publicly, Omar said: “(Obeidi’s) sister went on television to say her sister is crazy. Muammar wants to prove to the world that she is insane. She (the sister) is certainly under pressure from the government.”

If it is the same sister, how can we be sure that al-Obeidi wants to be with her or that she is safe from further attacks or even torture?

There are reports that either four or five men have been arrested in the case, one of them the “son of a high-ranking official.”

Today protesters in Benghazi organized a rally in support of Iman al-Obeidi.

Following disturbing pictures of Ayman Al Abidi that hit the TV airwaves in Benghazi almost 24 hours after the alleged incident, there was outrage in this rebel capital. Men and women held a rally in support of her and marched towards the courthouse in Benghazi. “We are very sad for this and no will accept what happened,” said a Libyan protestor.Many people in Libya are concerned about her situation and they say that is just a glimpse of what they’ve been facing for decades.

Al-Jazeera reported:

Several doctors say they have found Viagra tablets and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Gaddafi fighters, alleging that they were using rape as a weapon of war.

They say they have been treating female rape survivors who were allied with pro-democracy forces.

At the Financial Times, Charles Clover, one of the journalists who tried to help Iman al-Obeidi and was knocked down and kicked by Libyan security men for his trouble, writes about his experience:

Ms Obeidi said she had been arrested at a checkpoint on Salahidin Street in Tripoli “because I am from Benghazi”, and then held and repeatedly raped by 15 soldiers over two days.

Hearing the disturbance, a group of waiters and waitresses came over and tried at first to soothe her, then, when that did not work, to shut her up.

Suddenly a melee broke out between journalists and hotel staff. A group of athletic leather-jacketed men barrelled in and began throwing us around the room, chasing Ms Obeidi around the restaurant and finally putting a coat over her head. Many of the journalists at the Rixos jumped into the fray, trying to protect her, but it was a battle we were certain to lose.

Cameras were smashed and one journalist was punched in the face. I ended up wrestling for my Dictaphone, getting thrown down and kicked.

Clover has been told that he is “no longer welcome in Libya,” but he believes that the incident in which he was a bit player is a real tipping point.

All the careful efforts of the Libyan government to nurture their parallel reality were demolished that day. The hired mobs, the theatrical set pieces designed for foreign press consumption, and the alleged civilian casualties of the allied air campaign for which we have been shown little evidence – they all came crashing down, because of one woman’s bravery and desperation.

The questions remains: where is Iman al-Obeidi now? According to Anderson Cooper,

A group of lawyers and human rights activists tried to approach her sister’s house Monday, but were blocked by security forces. Al-Obeidy’s sister’s mobile phone has apparently been turned off, a source with the Lebanese opposition in Tripoli told CNN. And no one has seen the sister since the incident at the hotel.

Journalists and human rights activists much continue their demands to talk to al-Obeidi. She must not be disappeared by Gaddafi’s storm troopers. She is a living symbol of what Libyan rebels are fighting for–freedom of movement and association, freedom to speak truth to power, freedom to control one’s own body.

Yes, I know women are not treated equally in Arab cultures. Guess what? We aren’t treated equally here either. We need to stand up and fight for our rights just as this “lone, brave woman,” — as Charles Clover referred to her — fought for hers. And we must stand with her now and demand that she be freed and returned to her family.


Four NYT Journalists Missing in Libya

Anthony Shadid

This is very disturbing.

Four New York Times journalists disappeared while reporting on fighting in Libya, the newspaper said Wednesday.

Editors at the newspaper said they last heard from the journalists on Tuesday as they were covering the retreat of rebels from the town of Ajdabiya. Libyan officials told the newspaper they are trying to locate the four, executive editor Bill Keller said in a statement.

“We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed,” Keller said.

The missing journalists are Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Anthony Shadid, the newspaper’s Beirut bureau chief; Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer; and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario. In 2009, Farrell was kidnapped by the Taliban and later rescued by British commandos.

Anthony Shadid has won two Pulitzer Prizes, including one in 2010 for reporting on Iraq at the Washington Post.

Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario is a brilliant photographer who was a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant. You can view some of her work here and here.

According to CNN,

Libyan government forces said Wednesday that they have no information about where the journalists may be and that, if they were picked up by the Libyan military, they would be returned to Tripoli.

CNN quotes from an e-mail Addario sent to CNN correspondent Ivan Watson on Monday:

Addario called the Libya story “one of the most dangerous” of her career.

The e-mail said, “qaddafi’s forces heading back east, and the rebels are surrendering along the way…so exhausted. this story has been one of the most dangerous i have ever covered. getting bombed from the air and by land, with no cover, and no flack and helmet.”

Of the other missing writer and photography, CNN says:

Farrell routinely reports from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Before joining The New York Times in 2007, he worked for the Times of London. In April 2004, he was kidnapped on assignment in Iraq.

Hicks, a staffer for the paper, is based in Istanbul and has served as an embed in Afghanistan.

Tyler Hicks

Here is a recent post at the NYT Lens blog, with photos by Tyler Hicks along with his reflections on covering the Libyan conflict.

Stephen Farrell was taken prisoner by the Taliban in 2009. The Guardian has a report about the British soldier who died rescuing Farrell in Afghanistan.

Stephen Farrell

There is some good news. Guardian UK journalist Abdul-Ahad has been freed.

Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi national, and Andrei Netto, a Brazilian journalist, were taken into custody on 2 March.

They were held in a prison outside Tripoli after being picked up in Sabratha, a coastal town.

Netto was released last week, but Abdul-Ahad, an award-winning correspondent was held until Wednesday.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has said that Abdul-Ahad “is safely out of Libya”.

The recent conflicts in the Middle East have been dangerous for journalists. I only hope that these four fine journalists will soon be found safe and unhurt.