Opinion: The Hillary Clinton email scandal is missing the real issue about accountability

Full disclosure: the author owns a Hillary Clinton t-shirt. Pics available upon request.

A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times broke a story about Hillary Clinton’s email use during her time as Secretary of State. The story reports that Clinton used a private email account for some government communications while she was head of the State Department. The account was traced to a private email server located at her upstate New York residence.

At first glance, it seems like this is a major win for investigative journalism and government transparency. A government official, caught red-handed being secretive with matters of great national security importance! And not just any government official–a potentially historic candidate for president! I can hear the 1950s gasping from here.

But is this really a win? What did we learn here? That the State Department may have potentially hidden things from public scrutiny? The State Department does that?! If only someone had told us about this before…if only Wikileaks had already divulged volumes of embarrassing secrets about the State Department a few years ago! Oh, if only two summers ago an NSA contractor could have revealed our government’s massive program of domestic and international spying! Have we lost our national innocence yet again?

Theatrics aside, I believe this story about Hillary has elements of a political misdirection. The media has been quite insistent about keeping it in the news cycle.  As each new facet of the story is revealed, the big news sources have picked up on them relentlessly.  Interestingly enough, I’ve read some follow-up articles that show that Jeb Bush was equally shady with his email use while Governor of Florida. I haven’t detected quite the amount of outrage in response to Hillary’s email use usually reserved for these kinds of disclosures. It smells fishy to me. It smells like a hit piece, or a series of hit pieces, designed to undermine Hillary’s credibility a year before the presidential campaign begins.

If I were an editor at the NYT and the Hillary email story came across my desk, I’d stop and think for a second. I’d ask myself “is this kind of thing common among public officials?” I bet Eric Holder’s got a lot going on in his personal email account. I bet Ted Cruz’s personal email account has plenty of government business in it. As already mentioned, Jeb Bush has had some issues disclosing his emails to the public. I would ask my writer “is this story because a government official used a private email or because Hillary Clinton used a private email?  See if Jeb Bush or others are doing the same.” Maybe then the story could slam both of them for the same mistake at the same time, instead of focusing on Hillary. Think about it this way: if this private email account is such a big deal if it’s Hillary Clinton, why isn’t it a big deal if another public figure of similar stature is doing the same? Will the Times excoriate the other candidates for transparency for this long of a news cycle? My concerns boil down to this: why is Hillary Clinton the one being crucified for secretive practice when our government operates an unaccountable global wiretapping network? The media attention to Clinton’s emails is a political sideshow to the problem of government accountability.

I’m not going to beat around the bush. (Haha.) I’m a big fan of Hillary, and I think she should be president. I think that’s what our nation needs right now. We can’t afford a Republican presidency after the progress the Obama administration has made. We certainly can’t afford another Bush presidency. But in focusing exclusively on Hillary’s supposed wrongdoing with her email account, the liberal media has done our nation a great disservice. Voters who don’t pay much attention–and I’m pretty sure that’s 90% of them–might remember Hillary as the one they were initially told not to trust when they’re in the booth on November 3rd, 2016. I’m shocked that the liberal media would undermine our nation’s best hope for a Democratic successor, and the candidate who has the potential to be the first female president! It just doesn’t sit right with me that they’ve singled out Hillary Clinton.

I don’t want to say I don’t want a free press. I doubly don’t want to say that we shouldn’t hold public figures accountable. But we already know our government lies and keeps secrets. That was confirmed to us nearly two years ago, and the government’s surveillance apparatus continues unabated. The American war machine is gearing up again, this time with ISIS and Iran in its sights. I don’t see the Times reporting Hillary’s secrecy in the context of a post-NSA revelations America.  It seems like they’re pointing out “Hey, at what she did!” Is the NYT just fervently pressing the outrage button, hoping to generate clicks? Is this legitimately just a hatchet job against Hillary? Whatever it is, it’s misguided and unbalanced, and undoes a lot of the goodwill the left has created in this country. Democrats are finally crawling out of the hole Reagan and Bush Sr. dug for them–the hole of being “soft on crime,” the hole of “welfare queens” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We are becoming a country that’s proud of its diversity, instead of whitewashing it. We are becoming a country that is beginning to stand up to the injustices of the drug war and militarized police. A Jeb Bush presidency would destroy all that momentum, and force liberals back into hiding for another eight years. Don’t undo that work, NYT. Report responsibly, and quit it with the Hillary attacks. She was your senator for eight years–some of you had to have voted for her.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

About Spencer White 57 Articles
Spencer White is a senior from Commerce, Michigan. He's dedicated to squeezing every last bit of journalism he can out of Albion College.


  1. Clinton goes to foreign countries, most with a state-run spy apparatus. Clicks on unsecure Blackberry through a spam filter (MxLogix). She makes the claim that her system had not been breached (as if she would know). Her server was protecte by the secret service (what? –they stand around the server, guns drawn). So much of it smells bad. At least Bush is not downright dangerous. At least he has not put his country at risk, or perhaps compromised it. Think about it, perhaps?

  2. I take all of that back. I am schiziphrenic, bipolar, epileptic and narcoleptic. It makes for a terrible politician, and a very opinionated writer. So much seems unrelated to your well thought-out article, but I felt I needed to express my scatter-shot opinions. My post does not make too much sense, but I hope It does not contain too many “Hillary did this, therefore Jeb’s behavior is equally reprehensible.” non sequitur arguments.

  3. Almost all the anti-Hillary talk is sexism and ageism. I even went along with it years ago before I became more in tune. The same people talking about Hillary conspiracy theories are the ones saying Obama was born in Kenya.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.