Accuracy in Media

MSNBC Morning Joe w David Brock

While many prominent liberals, both in and out of the media, have been unable to defend Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account to conduct government business while serving as Secretary of State, the left has attempted to fill the gap, with poor results.

One of the biggest flops came from none other than Media Matters founder David Brock, who appeared on Morning Joe today to defend Hillary and debunk The New York Times story that exposed her use of a private email account.

Brock said the Times article didn’t hold up under scrutiny because the prominent allegation in the subtitle, that Clinton may have broken the law, isn’t true. He said that the lawyer quoted in the article, Jason Baron (not Banks, as Brock mentioned), said, after the article was published, that Clinton hadn’t broken any laws.

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough wasn’t convinced by this answer, and it was at that point that Brock’s defense of Hillary and criticism of the Times unraveled:

SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you about this, a 2009 National Archives and Records Administration regulation said this, in 2009:

“Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”


SCARBOROUGH: Must ensure. Must ensure that those records sent or received on systems are preserved. Did Hillary Clinton do that?

BROCK: Yeah, the State Department said yesterday that the e-mails were regularly preserved and appropriately preserved. And, as you know, these regulations were tightened in 2013…

SCARBOROUGH: The department said, the State Department said that Hillary Clinton’s e-mails were regularly preserved?

BROCK: The State Department said yesterday that there was a process in which these e-mails were preserved and we know they were preserved because, as you know, last fall, after these regulations tightened up in 2013 and in 2014. 55,000 pages of e-mails were turned over to the State Department and put in the hands of the government by Hillary Clinton.

SCARBOROUGH: But David, this regulation, as you know, it suggests they have to be preserved inside the State Department system itself, or inside the appropriate agency. That did not happen, did it?

BROCK: Is that your legal opinion?

BRZEZINSKI: No, that’s [unintelligible]

SCARBOROUGH: I’m reading a National Archives Administration regulation and it says:

‘Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operation by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.’

BRZEZINSKI: David, this is pretty clear.

SCARBOROUGH: That’s the regulation; it’s clear.

BROCK: It’s not. Look –

BRZEZINSKI: It’s clear.

SCARBOROUGH: It’s inside the State Department, inside Hillary Clinton’s house?

BROCK: First of all, it’s not clear that the thing happened, Joe. The New York Times doesn’t establish that at all. In fact, the 2009 law you’re referring to isn’t even cited in the New York Times. It’s such sloppy journalism that you don’t know what regulations the reporter is talking about. So why don’t they be clear, why don’t they come back and explain what 2009 required, what actually happened, what the State Department says happened, and then the fact that the law was changed in 2013-2014 but that was long after Hillary left office. There was no violation in law here, Joe, whatsoever and nobody I can see saying that except the New York Times.

BRZEZINSKI: It was a clear violation of law.

SCARBOROUGH: I can’t answer for the New York Times, but this 2009 regulation is clear. Bob Woodward has a question for you.

WOODWARD: I’m sorry, but this kind of sounds like a non-denial denial, in other words, clearly it was a good story, you may have some technical disagreements, but we get into this issue where the wall is green, is that really illegal and so forth, it is an important story. Won’t you concede that?

BROCK: I would concede that it is a legitimate issue to raise but no, I wouldn’t say it was a good story. The whole premise of it has fallen apart, that Hillary Clinton violated the law here and the source they have on it said she didn’t.

WOODWARD: But, but that’s…why twist it?

BROCK: I don’t know.

WOODWARD: I mean, of the piece, the piece said, she had all of this done on her personal e-mail account.

BROCK: Right, there’s nothing wrong with that. Her predecessors did the same thing.

WOODWARD: I just don’t think twisting it and …

BROCK: I’m not twisting anything. Her predecessors followed the same practices, Bob.

BRZEZINSKI: And some of her predecessors had different rules. There are regulations that are in place and we just read one to you, David.


BRZEZINSKI: And my question to you is, who has control over the e-mails that Hillary had between other governments, to other people in the State Department, and during her time as Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton, correct, or the State Department?

BROCK: Well, I think both. I mean, Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State.

BRZEZINSKI: Isn’t that potentially, isn’t that a violation of regulation? Yes or no?

BROCK: No, is that your legal position? I don’t understand. There’s not an independent legal authority who is backing up what you’re saying.

BRZEZINSKI: Oh my God. I’m not sure what planet I’m on right now.

BROCK: Excuse me?

BRZEZINSKI: Are you reading the same thing we are?

BROCK: Sure I am. Yeah. And I’m saying that the State Department said yesterday that there was a regular process through which these were appropriately preserved and we know they were because 55,000 pages of e-mail were turned over to the State Department last fall. They’re in government hands, they’re in compliance with the law.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, again, the law says it must be preserved in the appropriate agency’s recordkeeping system. But let’s move on.

The problem with Brock’s argument is that the Times article never said that Clinton broke the law—only that she may have. He wanted to make this a legal argument with Scarborough and Brzezinski, but it doesn’t take a lawyer to understand that the 2009 NARA regulation means that an email account housed on a computer server at Clinton’s home doesn’t fall within the regulations for maintaining and preserving government emails. Since Clinton’s staff supplied the emails, we don’t know for sure whether all the emails that Clinton sent and received during her tenure as Secretary of State were handed over to the government. We are just supposed to trust that they did.

And we all know how much we can trust the Clintons.

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