Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton!


Narrative all the way down:
We've just returned from a chic weekly luncheon. We were struck by a discussion which took place at that chic event.

The discussion involved the email Colin Powell sent to Hillary Clinton. Yesterday, we discussed that email. It's described on page 11 of the newly-released FBI report.

Below, you see the passage in question. Unless we're misunderstanding something, it seems that Powell was telling Clinton about the way he avoided Freedom of Information requests when he was secretary of state. It further seems that he was telling her that she should do the same thing.

This is the way the FBI reported Powell's email:
FBI MEMO (page 11): The FBI investigation indicated Clinton was aware her use of a personal device, e-mail account, and personal server did not negate her obligation to preserve federal records. On January 23, 2009, Clinton contacted former Secretary of State Colin Powell via e-mail to inquire about his use of a Blackberry while he was Secretary of State (2005 to 2009). In his e-mail reply, Powell warned Clinton that if it became "public" that Clinton used a Blackberry, and she used it to "do business," her e-mails could become "official record[s] and subject to the law." Powell further advised Clinton, "Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data." Clinton indicated to the FBI that she understood Powell's comments to mean any work-related communications would be government records, and she stated Powell's comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal e-mail account.
Unless there's something we're missing here, it seems that Powell was telling Clinton that she should seek ways to avoid exposing her e-mails to public record requests. It seems that Powell was telling Clinton that he had found ways to "get around" such requests.

From the start of our floundering nation's endless e-mail discussion, critics have suggested that Clinton set up her email in such a way as to frustrate Freedom of Information requests. Clinton has denied that motive, but now it seems fairly clear that Powell stated, in his e-mail to Clinton, that he too that very approach.

Unless there's something we're missing here, you'd almost think that Powell's email would be a point of discussion. Unless there's something we're missing, there was the famous press corps "good guy" advising the famous press corps demon that she should engage in the type of conduct for which she's been widely attacked!

Is that what Powell was advising when he wrote, "Be very careful?" Unless there's something we're missing here, that seems to be what he advised.

That said, you'd have to be as naive as Michael Corleone's wife if you thought that Powell's e-mail would produce a discussion in the press. As noted, Powell is a long-standing press corps "good guy," while Clinton's a long-standing press corps demon. Given that casting, there's no way the mainstream press corps would ever report or discuss what Powell seems to have said.

Instead, we've repeatedly seen that email from Powell spun in a quite different way. Repeatedly, pundits have conveyed the impression that Powell was telling Clinton to be "very careful" about the security aspects of her email account when he gave that advice.

That doesn't seem to be what Powell was saying. But Powell is an official "good guy." Therefore, according to rules of the guild, that simply has to be what the great man said!

Yesterday, we focused on Chuck Todd's presentation of that email. Unless there's something we're missing here, Todd's Meet the Press viewers were almost surely badly misled about what Powell wrote. In that, they were hardly alone.

In eighteen years at this post, we've often been surprised by the press corps' blatant dishonesty. But alas! For the corporate-sponsored children who agree to play journalists on TV, it's pretty much narrative all the way down. Unless there's something we're missing here, the children have done it again!

Colin Powell is a made man, one of the press corps' official good guys. On that basis, the eternal laws of the guild are quite clear. Unless there's something we're missing here, Colin Powell couldn't have said what he seems to have said!

By law, it was the demon's fault. And that's how the pundits have told it.


  1. Bob is taking a button and sewing a vest onto it, when he interprets the words, "Be very careful." It's just as likely that Powell meant, "Be very careful to protect confidential information."

    There are many other differences between Powell's and Clinton's behavior:

    1. By the time Clinton was Secy of State, the rules were more precise and rigorous. She broke the rules.

    2. Powell didn't choose not to set up a government server at all. Hillary may be the only person in the Obama Administration who did this.

    3. Powell didn't swear that he had supplied all non-personal messages, while excluding thousands of them.

    4. Mrs. Powell didn't get billions of dollars of foreign donations to an organization she controlled while her spouse was Secretary of State.

    1. Differences of behavior between former Secretaries of State is irrelevant and implying that they are relevant is sheer sophistry. The FBI's interpretation, which is consistent with Somerby's, is much more likely the truth than how the GOP and and Clinton haters like you want to spin it.

      1. No they weren't and no she didn't.
      2. Powell used an AOL account. Pointless.
      3. Powell destroyed them because no one cared because his last name wasn't Clinton.
      4. Non sequitur and neither did either Clinton.

      Your wife lock you in your room again?

  2. Please stop feedin David the Troll in Cali. He's only here for one reason and that is to posit GOP spin. By his standards, Hillary should be tried and fried. And yet, she lives!
    the end, goodbye.

  3. Page 15 of the report: Clinton told her legal team to give State all emails that were work-related or arguably work related. She didn't participate in deciding the process for sorting them out and she wasn't consulted about the results.

    But clearly, she's hiding somthing!

  4. To be fair to Secretary Powell, he may have been indicating that if Secretary Clinton were to use a private email account and that if she wished to avoid the "hassle" of official record keeping, she should not use the private email for "sensitive" (e.g. classified, which their was a separate system for anyway, or detailed) information. So yes, he is telling her ways to avoid public record requests, but merely as a way to keep excessive bureaucracy in check.

    That is, I know, a charitable interpretation of his e-mail (as was reported), and it is a hell of a lot more charitable than Secretary Clinton's actions have ever been interpreted.

  5. Jeff Jarvis:

    [W]e must rethink and reinvent the very core of journalism, its relationship with the public, its forms, and its business models. For it’s the business model that makes Les Moonves at CBS and Jeff Zucker at CNN rub their greedy little hands in glee at the audience and revenue the Trump Circus brings them. It’s the business model that has newsrooms chasing rabid squirrels and outrageous Trumpisms to get more volume, less value. It’s the form of journalism — the scoop, the exclu, the provocative TV yelling match, the savvy political roundtable— that brings out our worst in political opportunism and sensationalism, leaving no room for substance. And because we in journalism separate ourselves from the public we serve — sitting above them, in judgment — we try to argue that it’s not our fault if they’re not informed. Because of that separation, we cannot credibly contend that we know what the public’s concerns are; we’re not good at listening. And because of that separation, we still expect people to come to us for the news, when we should be going to them wherever they are.
    Imagine if even a fraction of the time we see wasted on cable news were devoted to educating the public about the issues and realities of immigration, refugees, criminal justice, the economy, infrastructure, education, health care costs, entitlement costs, security, the environment, taxes, jobs…. When was the last time you saw TV news do that? How much of any news organization’s work is devoted to doing this, to informing the electorate? Shouldn’t we ask before assigning every story and booking every TV discussion: How will this help the public better decide how to vote?
    Journalism is failing the nation. This election is the proof.

  6. 6:58 and 7:44 -- please read this from and you'll find that what I said was correct.

  7. Jim Comey says: despite all the chest-beating by people no longer in government, there really wasn't a prosecutable case.

    Kevin Drum links to the Washington Post story and Comey's memo.

    1. At the end of the day, the case itself was not a cliff-hanger; FBI Director Comey

      Which was obvious for a year now, makes you wonder why it took him so long to complete

  8. And all the Republicans whining and moaning know perfectly well there was no criminal case. There is not the slightest evidence she intended to do anything other than have a system where she didn't have to sign in and out of constantly, depending on who sent the email.

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  10. Correction: Michael Corleone's wife was not chided for being naive. That rhetorical question occurred during Michael's proposal of marriage to Kay.

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