Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why latest email-gate is dumb and dumber (aka news media goes freaking nuts)

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones explains why Emailgate Just Gets Stupider and Stupider.

Well, it turns out the "unrelated case" that led the FBI to more Hillary Clinton emails was an investigation into Anthony Weiner's sexting. Because of course it was. It is what we all deserve.

But it's even stupider than that. In the past, I've found Pete Williams [MSNBC] to be a pretty reliable guy ...

Check out Drum's article for the Williams video clip.

If Williams is correct, investigators looked at Weiner's laptop and discovered that Weiner's wife—Clinton aide and all-around conservative boogeyman Huma Abedin—had also used it. So there are some emails from Abedin to Hillary Clinton on the hard drive. ...

Now they've got to go get court process to get the right to...take a wider look at these emails and begin that process. You said earlier this probably won't be wrapped up before Election Day? Scratch probably.

In other words, nobody has even looked at these emails yet. The FBI has to get a court order first. So: are these emails that have already been turned over? Maybe. Are they routine emails about schedules and so forth? Maybe. Nobody, including the FBI, has the slightest idea. But there's certainly no reason to think there are any bombshells here.

Needless to say, that didn't stop every news outlet in the country from blaring this at the tops of their front pages. They never learn, do they? Email stories hyped by folks like Jason Chaffetz never pan out. But news orgs get suckered every time anyway. So just to make sure their shame is preserved for posterity ...

Drum displays the front pages of NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News, and The Guardian, every one of which tying Clinton to the new emails mentioned by the FBI.

Director Comey and the FBI just entered the election by advising Congressional Republicans, and the rest of America, that the FBI doesn't know squat about those new emails but that they are willing to lay a guilt trip on Clinton just in case there's something there. Predictably Trump made up a story for his mob about Clinton corruption and the mob responded with "lock her up".

So what will the latest chapter of the email-gate saga do to the election? Politico offers some (gloomy) assessments.

How much the latest email eruption affects the race depends on how both campaigns handle it over the next few days – and how much voters give a damn.

... the handicappers give [Clinton] between an 80 and 90 percent chance of winning and roughly 30 percent of votes have already been cast, thanks to early balloting and absentee voting in many states. And the scandal (or pseudo-scandal) doesn’t yet directly involve her.

But by late Friday all the Democratic talk of landslides and big down-ballot victories had given way, yet again, to nervous chatter about a candidate who never seems to able to seal the deal.

You can read more about the "five takeaways from Clinton’s very bad Friday – that could turn into something much worse" at Politico's article by Glenn Thrush.

Ezra Klein auto advises Americans on both sides of the aisle to chill out because The unsatisfying truth about the Clinton-FBI news: we don’t know anything yet. "Both Democrats and Republicans should calm down."

There is a lot more panic among Democrats and excitement among Republicans than the facts of the story seem to justify. My sense, reading the chatter, is that both sides are assuming that Comey wouldn’t have sent this letter if he wasn’t previewing something big.

... if we just take Comey at his word — and there’s no obvious reason not to — the truth is simpler: The FBI seized computers or phones related to the Weiner investigation. They found emails, likely from Huma Abedin, that might relate to the Clinton investigation. They now need to review those emails, and Comey thought the safest — and perhaps legally required — course of action was to tell Congress those emails exist, and would be reviewed, rather than be criticized later for covering them up until after the election.

The position Comey has put himself in isn’t fun or institutionally safe: Already, the Clinton campaign is demanding Comey release everything he has, rather than just this vague letter. Republicans, of course, will flay Comey if he releases truly damaging information about Clinton only after the election is complete. And the whole thing is coming 11 days before an election where tensions are high, conservatives are looking for good news, and liberals are seeking excuses to panic — so everyone is freaking out.

But for now, the truth is we need more information to know whether this is a big deal — or nothing at all.

And it will take time for the FBI to sift through the new emails.

So what happens next? The FBI is going to review the new emails to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” Subsequent reporting from the New York Times emphasizes that the FBI does “not know how long it [will] take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.”

Scriber's take: If Clinton loses the election it will be because of the FBI covering its ass.

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