Accuracy in Media


Hillary Clinton was back in the news when a federal judge ordered her to be deposed in an ongoing lawsuit over her private e-mail use while serving as Secretary of State. The lawsuit, filed by the right-leaning organization Judicial Watch, contended that Clinton was not forthcoming on multiple questions submitted to her camp from the plaintiffs.

The federal judge, Royce Lamberth, serves in the D.C. District Court and said that Clinton’s responses “were either incomplete, unhelpful, or cursory at best. Simply put her responses left many more questions than answers.” Clinton’s camp argued that she has answered questions about why she decided to use a private e-mail server than the government’s e-mail server.

Judicial Watch’s argument was bolstered after the organization revealed that the State Department released about thirty “previously undisclosed Clinton emails” without explaining where they came from in December 2019.

The mainstream media covered the news, but insisted that Clinton answered the questions and insinuated that another round of questioning was unnecessary. CNN wrote, “Clinton’s emails were already investigated by Congress, the State Department inspector general and the FBI, and she previously gave written answers in another lawsuit.”

Politico echoed a similar sentiment when it said, “In response to press questions during the campaign and in the sworn statement, Clinton said she kept the private account and server after taking over as secretary of state in 2009 as a matter of convenience and not to avoid FOIA or other disclosure requirements.” Politico added, “The FBI investigated, interviewed Clinton and recommended against criminal charges, but it did find dozens of messages in her account that officials said contained highly classified information.”

By comparison, Fox News and the Hill did not refer to previous investigations in-detail in their articles.

Fox News wrote the following:

“Clinton has argued that she has already answered questions about this and should not have to do so again — the matter did not result in any charges for the then-presidential candidate in 2016 after a high-profile investigation — but D.C. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth said in his ruling that her past responses left much to be desired.”

The Hill extensively quoted Judge Lamberth and noted conservative criticism of Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State, but it did not add any reference to previous investigations of Clinton’s e-mails.

CNN and Politico, by citing previous investigations, portrayed the ongoing lawsuit as unnecessary because Clinton allegedly answered all questions pertaining her use of private e-mails in other investigations. Yet the judge disagreed with the media’s line of reasoning and permitted Judicial Watch to depose Clinton in order to ask specific questions.

The media’s coverage of Clinton’s deposition was a mixed bag, with Fox News and the Hill fairly covering the information and CNN and Politico failing to accurately frame the lawsuit in neutral terms.




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