Media Pluses And Minuses At Recent Democratic Debate

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

Members of the mainstream media often don’t mention their conflicts of interest. So it was refreshing when Jorge Ramos of Univision noted on air during the March 9th Democratic debate that his daughter works for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Ramos should be credited for asking Mrs. Clinton tough questions about her private email server and Benghazi. “Secretary Clinton, on the night of the attacks in Benghazi, you sent an e-mail to your daughter Chelsea saying, that al Qaeda was responsible for the killing of the Americans,” said Ramos. “However, some of the families claim that you lied to them…Secretary Clinton, did you lie to them?”

Hillary Clinton has lied about the events of that night, repeatedly, and continues to still blame the YouTube video for the attacks.

Mrs. Clinton responded to Ramos by saying that Patricia Smith, mother of information officer Sean Smith who was killed along with Ambassador Chris Stevens at the Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, was “absolutely wrong.” The moderator pressed Mrs. Clinton again for a better answer, saying “…what the families are saying is that you told your daughter Chelsea one thing and a different thing to them.”

She then blamed the fog of war and maintained that the YouTube video was important to the September 11, 2012 attacks. She also said that a terrorist group took credit for the attack the evening it occurred, but “rescinded” that claim hours later, as if that was the basis of her change of mind on the matter. What about U.S. intelligence assets? They knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.

Ramos’ question was incomplete. Mrs. Clinton not only told her daughter Chelsea that an al Qaeda-like group had perpetrated the attacks—she also presented similar messages to the Egyptian prime minister and Libyan president.

The claim that Mrs. Smith is wrong about Mrs. Clinton’s blaming the video also casts aspersions on other family members such as Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, and Kate Quigley, the sister of Glen Doherty.

Are each of these family members of the deceased wrong? Woods has the “most convincing story,” we previously argued, because he wrote about Mrs. Clinton’s video comments in his calendar, and then called a radio station about it by October 2012. There is certainly no reason to disbelieve any of the family members, while Mrs. Clinton has a motive to lie—electability.

Ramos also asked Mrs. Clinton if President Obama gave her permission to set up a private server. “So who specifically gave you permission to operate your email system as you did?” he asked. “Was it President Barack Obama? And would you drop out of the race if you get indicted?”

“There was no permission to be asked,” she replied. “It had been done by my predecessors. It was permitted. I didn’t have to ask anyone.”

Politifact marked Clinton’s answer as “mostly false,” citing the difference between writing private emails and setting up a private server. The idea that others did what she did is not mostly false—it is completely false. No other secretary of state conducted their government business on a private, unsecured email server. Colin Powell may have had a personal email account for personal matters, but he never had a private server to conduct government business.

However, at least one member of the mainstream media thought that Ramos went too hard on Mrs. Clinton.

Speaking on March 10 on CNN’s New Day, David Gregory, former host of NBC’s Meet the Press, complained that “I think [the indictment question] was a little too heavy. I think there’s no reason to suspect that she’s even a target.”

Not a target? Mrs. Clinton authored 104 messages containing classified information. Some of the emails sent through her server contained information at the highest level of classification, Special Access Programs (SAP). We have documented the fact that thousands of emails with classified materials passed through her email server, and whether they were marked classified or not makes no difference. It was her obligation to know the difference. And former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has shredded the notion that Mrs. Clinton “is not the target of the investigation.”

It turns out that David Gregory has a reason to complain about the debate hosts being too hard on Hillary. Chris Plante, recipient of Accuracy in Media’s 2015 Reed Irvine award for Excellence in Journalism, connected the dots on his radio show on WMAL in Washington, D.C.  He pointed out that Gregory’s wife, attorney Beth Wilkinson, happens to represent three of Mrs. Clinton’s aides, including Cheryl Mills.

Plante’s radio show runs on WMAL from 9 a.m. to noon ET Monday through Friday. I urge people to tune in to his show, which can be heard live Plante is one of the best media and news analysts out there.

You don’t see Gregory recusing himself from broadcasts discussing Mrs. Clinton—or even telling viewers about the connection. Shouldn’t he announce this blatant conflict of interest when he talks about Clinton?

Gregory is a typical member of the incestuous mainstream media who see little need to expose reporters’ revolving door connections to politicians. These backroom loyalties inevitably affect coverage from behind the scenes, rendering an unbiased and impartial media a myth.

Gregory said he thought it “was fair for [Mrs. Clinton] to not answer” the question about the indictment. That is nonsense. The looming possibility of indictments for the misuse of classified information or public corruption cannot be ignored. The longer this campaign season continues without clarity as to whether Mrs. Clinton will be indicted, the more politicized the FBI investigations will seem, regardless of the outcome.

The fact is that reporters who fail to reveal their connections to politicians who they comment on are engaging in secretive journalistic advocacy. But Ramos, who hosts a show on Univision, was open about his advocacy on behalf of illegal immigrants. Instead of just asking Mrs. Clinton and Sanders questions, he tried to extract campaign promises.

Here is the exchange that took place:

JORGE RAMOS: You’re telling us tonight that if you become president you won’t deport children who are already here?


RAMOS: And that you won’t deport immigrants who don’t have a criminal record?

CLINTON: That’s what, that’s what I’m telling you. I do not want to see them deported. I want to see them on a path to citizenship. That is exactly what I will do.

BERNIE SANDERS: I will not deport children from the United States of America.

RAMOS: Can you promise not to deport immigrants who don’t have a criminal record?

SANDERS: I can make that promise.

In an obvious rebuke of the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton also committed to “stop the raids, stop the round-ups, stop the deporting of people who are living here doing their lives, doing their jobs…”

With such promises, what difference will new immigration laws make? A President Hillary Clinton would just ignore the will of Congress if she doesn’t agree with it.

Co-moderator Maria Elena Salinas questioned whether Mrs. Clinton was flip-flopping and pandering to Hispanics on immigration, which she called “Hispandering.”

Presidential candidates should promise to uphold the law and the Constitution, not try to swing votes from an off-the-books potential constituency looking for favors and the opportunity to vote. Mrs. Clinton is not pandering to Hispanics, she is pandering to illegals who have already broken the law just by entering the United States and obtaining false IDs, or by overstaying their visas. And Sanders made the same promise. They will not deport people who came here illegally if they haven’t been caught and convicted of committing other crimes. In other words, these politicians are promising to ignore their responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the land.

“It was a little unorthodox for a moderator to make such a value-laden inquiry—almost like something you’d expect from a protester at a rally,” writes Callum Borchers for The Washington Post. “Voters who prefer a more conventionally neutral tone are certainly entitled to gripe here.”

However, Borchers writes, “Ramos also was there to be a voice of Latinos.”

No single reporter can claim to be the voice of any constituency. It is Ramos’ job to report the news, not become the news or advocate for a specific policy. It is also important to distinguish between anti-immigrant and anti-illegal-immigrant. Too often people are labeled by the media as anti-immigrant, when they are, in fact, very pro-immigration. They just want the borders enforced and the laws respected. But pointing that out wouldn’t be helpful to the media’s agenda.


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