Do you remember when Bernie Sanders, standing next to Hillary on the debate stage, waved his finger at her and exclaimed with exasperation, “The American people are sick and tired of your damn emails! She laughed, said “Thank you, Bernie.” and extended her hand to shake his. The audience went crazy, applauding and cheering.
That episode seems like a century ago as this fiercely fought political campaign storms into the final days. Emails surged back into the headlines when the Russians hacked thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Our intelligence agencies confirmed Russia as the perpetrator and described their aim to help Donald Trump become president. It has long been known that Trump admires Putin as “ a stronger leader than Obama” and Putin returns the compliment. He would not look forward to a Clinton presidency, since she opposed him as Secretary of State in several important arenas, including the Russian incursion into Ukraine and the Iran Nuclear Deal.
During October, a steady stream of emails from the Clinton campaign was released by WikiLeaks almost daily. Drip. Drip. Drip. The account of John Podesta, campaign chairman, was the main source of the emails. They covered strategies, criticisms. personal remarks and gossip among the inner circle of aides. Some dated back to 2011 before Hillary Clinton ran for President when John Podesta held a leadership role in the Clinton Foundation. Cable television covered the WikiLeaks stories during the month, with CNN, MSNBC and Fox News giving them time and discussion each day. They appeared to use them as a counterbalance to the October Surprise of Donald Trump’s infamous “Bus Tape”. Daily stories of his behavior and words described on the tape were the main coverage for a week. The next weeks saw eleven women coming forth, one by one, to give testimony of his physical attacks on them over the years. Most said they were angered by his denial in the second debate that he had not done what he described on the tape.
On October 27, The New York Times ran a front page two column, lead story, “Concerns Over Donations Vexed Clinton’s Top Aides.” : “New Wikileaks Release Provides Glimpse of Power Struggles at Foundation.” The next day, “Hacked Emails Reveal Image of Chelsea Clinton” ran inside as part of Election 2016 with a large picture of Chelsea with Bill Clinton at the second debate. The most influential paper in the United States had decided to increase their focus on the WikiLeaks hacked emails. As I read the story, I learned that Chelsea Clinton had three academic degrees when she became a member of the board of the Foundation, from Stamford, Oxford and Columbia University. She had also held various jobs, including at McKinsey & Co. and Avenue Capital. In one of her emails, she wrote, “My only objectives were to take stock, professionalize the foundation, build it for the future and build it in such a way that supported his work and my mom’s.”
As I read the detailed quotes and descriptions, I began to wonder — how interested are most Americans in the entire hacking and WikiLeaks story? Are they following it as intently as they followed the Bus Tape when it exploded that Friday afternoon? I truly doubt it. This is a story “in the weeds” as the journalists call it. More important, why are the newspapers and cable networks concentrating on coverage that gives Russia and Donald Trump all this free publicity? I remembered Marco Rubio, Republican senator, refusing to answer a question about the WikiLeaks at a meeting In Florida. He blew me away when he said, “I will not comment on the attempt by Russia to influence and interfere in our presidential election. Next question.” A few days ago, Adam Schiff, Democratic Representative from CA and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, answered a similar query on cable Television. He said, “The motive of the Russian government in hacking Clinton campaign emails is clear. They want Donald Trump to win the election. That is the story here. Not the emails themselves.’’
The more I thought about it, the more unhappy I became. I decided to write a letter to The New York Times yesterday while the paradox was clear. Here it is: To the Editor:
“I am appalled that your two column front page story (October 27) continues emphasis on the content of the latest WikiLeaks release. Our intelligence agencies have stated clearly that Russia is responsible for the hacking that produced these leaks. Putin’s purpose is to influence our presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. I’m sure he is chuckling every day with this free publicity for Trump in newspapers and on cable television.
“All WikiLeaks stories – fueled by Russian espionage—are certainly not –“news that’s fit to print.”
(See NYTimes motto in box, upper left on front page “All the news that’s fit to print “)
Wish me luck! Hopefully, The Times will decide to run it in their Letters To The Editor Section.