News & Politics

WaPo Dismisses Emailgate: 'History Would Judge' Us for Electing Trump

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laughs during a campaign stop in Charleston, W.V., Tuesday, May 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

In an op-ed by the editorial board,the Washington Post has declared that Hillary Clinton’s use of a “homebrew” server for classified information is not “one of the most important issues facing the country this election.” The editors argue that “history would judge today’s Americans” if they elect Donald Trump (“a dangerous man”) due to a “minor email scandal.”

The editors rightly point out that there are many substantive issues besides each candidate’s weaknesses.

There are a thousand other substantive issues — from China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea to National Security Agency intelligence-gathering to military spending — that would have revealed more about what the candidates know and how they would govern.

This is good criticism, but the Post does not heed it. After dismissing Hillary’s emails as a non-scandal, the editors contrast that with Trump’s “manifest unfitness for office.” The editorial does not explain what makes Trump manifestly unfit for office, it only dismisses a strong argument against Clinton. To be fair, the paper laid out its case that the Republican nominee is a “threat” in July. But one would think, after attacking “non-issues” like the email scandal, the editorial would critique Trump on specific real issues.

The rest of the article reads like Clinton talking points. While admitting that the former secretary of State “treated the public’s interest in sound record-keeping cavalierly” and that “a small amount of classified material also moved across her private server,” the editors repeat the non-sequitur that “it was not obviously marked as such” and argue that “there is still no evidence that national security was harmed.”

Just because the Russians have not taken Trump up on his suggestion that they release Hillary’s emails does not mean the classified information (which is still classified, even if it is “not obviously marked as such”) did not end up in the hands of foreign actors. Experts even told the New York Times that the emails were likely hacked.

The Post mentions three news reports which “should have taken some steam out of the story.” It mentions a memo by FBI Director James Comey, explaining that his exoneration of Clinton was “not a cliffhanger” and attacking people second-guessing the FBI as not knowing what they’re talking about. The article also points out the famous email exchange where former secretary of state Colin Powell explained his use of a private server (still, not for classified information, in the gross amounts Clinton did). It also notes the finding of 30 Benghazi-related emails, which the Post says “had nothing significant in them.”

Did neither Comey nor the Post read about Clinton’s team smashing cell phones with a hammer? Did they not realize she lied under oath during the Benghazi hearing? Did they not read the New York Times‘ report about the likelihood she got hacked? Are they ignoring the blatant pay-for-play of the Clinton Foundation? Did they not notice the link between the Podesta Group and the Panama Papers? When the Post‘s editors write “the story has vastly exceeded the boundaries of the facts,” which facts are they ignoring?

Next Page: A blatant double standard.

None of this is a defense of Trump, who certainly has his own problems. But the Post cannot dismiss this story as a non-issue and then attack Trump on character grounds, itself ignoring policy. If we’re leaving “fitness of office” out of the equation, we should have the same standard for both candidates — and maybe even mention that Clinton and Trump are not the only candidates on the ballot in all fifty states (or the only ones polling above 10 percent in the vast majority of them).

The article’s conclusion solidifies the impression that the Washington Post is thoroughly endorsing Hillary for president.

Imagine how history would judge today’s Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of … a minor email scandal. There is no equivalence between Ms. Clinton’s wrongs and Mr. Trump’s manifest unfitness for office.

Make no mistake: this is an endorsement, not reporting. The Post first mentions that there are more substantive issues than candidate character, then goes to great lengths to defend one candidate in a scandal it dismisses as overblown, then with a flourish entirely rejects the other candidate for similar character scandals without discussing a single substantive issue.

It does not mention the fact that Libertarian Gary Johnson is a real third choice, even if he’s unlikely to win — it merely says in the binary between Trump and Clinton, Clinton’s flaws are overblown but Trump’s are not. I’m no fan of Donald Trump, but this is ridiculous.