Deferring to Comey the God: Did Secretary Clinton and her associates email secret stuff? Were they "extremely careless" with their email practices?
So said Comey the God when he testified, infallibly, before that House committee. He descended to earth for that purpose on Thursday, July 7. As we showed you yesterday, Lauren Carroll thumb-nailed his assessments in her PolitiFact post:
CARROLL (8/1/16): Take the video Wallace played on Fox News Sunday. In it, Clinton said, "I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified materials" (March 10, 2015); "I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time" (July 25, 2015); "I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified" (Aug. 18, 2015).That is what Comey said. But uh-oh! Last weekend, on Fox News Sunday, Clinton almost seemed to suggest that the god's assessment was bunk:
But Comey reported that, of the tens of thousands of emails investigators reviewed, 113 individual emails contained classified information, and three of them bore markings signifying their classification status. (Information can still be classified even if it does not have a label.) Eight email threads contained top-secret information, the highest level of classification, 36 contained secret information, and the remaining eight contained confidential information.”
WALLACE (7/31/16): Well, let me just say—[Comey] not only directly contradicted what you said, he also said in that hearing that you were "extremely careless" and "negligent."At that point, Wallace moved on.
CLINTON: Well, Chris, I looked at the whole transcript of everything that was said, and what I believe is, number one, I made a mistake not using two different e-mail addresses. I have said that and I repeat it again today. It is certainly not anything that I ever would do again.
I take classification seriously. I relied on and had every reason to rely on the judgments of the professionals with whom I worked. And so, in retrospect, maybe some people are saying, "Well, among those 300 people, they made the wrong call."
At the time, there was no reason in my view to doubt the professionalism and the determination by the people who work every single day on behalf of our country.
Let's note what Clinton didn't say in that particular statement. She didn't directly reject the claim that she was "extremely careless."
Earlier in their brief exchange, she had told Wallace this: "I was communicating with over 300 people in my e-mailing. They certainly did not believe, and had no reason to believe, that what they were sending was classified."
That's an intriguing statement.
According to Clinton, she was exchanging emails with 300 stone-cold professionals. Intriguingly, she said they "had no reason to believe that what they were sending was classified."
We shudder when we say it. But that would seem to constitute a challenge to Comey the God.
In god-like fashion, Comey declared that 110 of the 30,000 emails in question contained classified information. But when he testified to the House committee, no one asked him to explain the source for that assessment.
Why says that 110 emails contained classified material? On what authority was Comey the God making that god-like assessment?
No one asked, and the god didn't tell. Last Sunday, Clinton said there was no reason for State Department professionals to think any such thing in real time.
Who the heck is right about this? We're in no position to say.
That said, we can tell you this. When Jesse Singal fact-checked Clinton's appearance for New York Magazine, he blew right past all these conundrums.
He simply assumed that Comey the God's infallible assessments were right. Beyond that, he ran straight to the exciting term "lie:"
SINGAL (8/2/16): By any reasonable standard, she did lie to the American people—she repeatedly sent classified emails in a nonsecure way, and repeatedly said that she didn’t.Do you see the way Singal reasoned? According to Singal, because it was said by Comey the God, "there's no dispute about what she did wrong!"
As Carroll writes, according to Comey, “of the tens of thousands of emails investigators reviewed, 113 individual emails contained classified information, and three of them bore markings signifying their classification status. (Information can still be classified even if it does not have a label.) Eight email threads contained top-secret information, the highest level of classification, 36 contained secret information, and the remaining eight contained confidential information.” So there’s no dispute about what she did wrong, and there’s no dispute that she claimed, repeatedly, not to have done anything wrong. Either she intentionally wasn’t telling the truth in public statements on this issue, or she didn’t understand the categories in question well enough to realize that what she was saying wasn’t true. Either way, it is not a good position for a former secretary of State to be in.
(Thus assuming that Clinton had made a misstatement, he further declared that her assumed misstatement had to be a lie.)
Because it was said by Comey the God, "there's no dispute about what she did!" This is the way the "press corps" has reasoned about a succession of morally upright Republican scolds, dating back through Louis Freeh (Bill Clinton's FBI head) and the almighty Judge Starr.
The moral greatness of these men is always assumed, never challenged. Singal extended the pattern with that remarkable passage.
Like Carroll, Singal didn't even mention Comey's rather obvious game-playing regarding those three "marked" emails. He's plainly sympathetic to Clinton, but by the rules of his infernal guild, he simply assumed that she had to be wrong in what she clumsily said.
It's been the law of the guild for some time. By rule, the morally upright Republican scold simply can't be wrong.
As with Freeh and Starr and others, Singal assumes that Comey the God was right in his assessments. He simply asserts that Clinton is currently "spinning." It never enters his head to wonder if Clinton could be essentially truthful, with Comey serving the papal bull in this particular instance.
Were the emailers "extremely careless?" Were they emailing "classified information" of any actual significance or substance?
We aren't able to settle such points. Fred Kaplan's report at Slate could have started a real discussion.But as we've frequently told you, serious discussion no longer exists within our national culture.
Last night, Rachel was talking about David Duke, and about the baby who cried at Candidate Trump's event. That's the way Our Own Rhodes Scholars perform within our hollowed-out culture.
No, we aren't making this up: Concerning Duke, Maddow actually said it was "inspiring" when "Poppy Bush" and Lee Atwater opposed his 1989 run for the Louisiana House of Delegates.
Lee Atwater was shown opposing Duke. Rachel called it "inspiring."
The orange-shoed cable star actually said it. We really aren't making this up.