Accuracy in Media

A panel on CNN’s Inside Politics Sunday was baffled by Hillary Clinton’s latest statements regarding why she had said that FBI Director James Comey called her answers about her private email server “truthful.”

The panel, which was moderated by CNN’s John King, consisted of The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler, The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, CNN Senior Political Reporter Manu Raju and NPR Lead Political Editor Domenico Montanaro.

King began the segment by saying that Clinton’s intellect is not in question—owing to her many years of public service as First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State—but her candor is. He then played the clip from her interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday on July 31 where she made the claim that Comey called her answers “truthful,” followed by her explanation on Friday of that week that she “short-circuited” during the interview.

He then asked the panel to help explain Clinton’s statements.

Meckler said she was baffled as to why Clinton is still struggling with this, and even though she probably believes in her heart that what she did was “blessed,” she can’t seem to “lance the boil.”

Ball chimed in, saying that Clinton doesn’t understand why she should have to deal with this and that keeps her from taking it seriously, adding that people close to the campaign consider this to be another “phony scandal.”

“Well, that doesn’t follow. Right? This is not phony. This is the real thing,” Ball said.

Raju was also baffled at Clinton’s response because the campaign knows that her biggest vulnerability is her trustworthiness and honesty. He cited recent polls showing that only about 35 percent of voters find her honest and trustworthy. He said it was “shocking” that Clinton would say that Comey had vindicated her during his testimony.

“I was at the hearing. Director Comey was not vindicating her. He was blasting her for her statements over and over again, saying that, if she were an employee of the FBI, potentially she could have been disciplined, could have been fired. [She] may have actually put the nation’s secrets at risk by potentially hostile actors gaining access to her e-mail server,” Raju said.

Montanaro said that he thinks the Clinton campaign may be taking “too much comfort” in her poll numbers after a bad week for Trump, and that they think the email scandal isn’t a big deal. Montanaro suggested that this could become a vulnerability if they choose to ignore it.

Clinton has had many opportunities to put this issue to rest, as the panel noted, but she just can’t bring herself to come clean to the American public because doing so would effectively end her presidential race, which is totally unacceptable to her and Bill.

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