Media Matters founder and chairman David Brock criticized The New York Times for their story on Hillary Clinton’s e-mails on Wednesday’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC.
Brock alleged, “the piece didn’t stand up to scrutiny after it was published. There’s an allegation, very prominent in the subhead of this article yesterday that Hillary Clinton may have broken federal law. the only named source they have to support this allegation, Jason [Baron] who was the highest ranking lawyer in the National Archive, said after the piece was published that no law was broken [although, he also says in a Reuters story that “the sole use of a private email account by a high-level official to transact government business is plainly inconsistent with the Federal Records Act and longstanding policies of the National Archives.”] So, the story is wrong. it’s based on a false premise. the reporter seems to be digging his heels in and now giving his opinion that Hillary Clinton broke the law, but they don’t have any independent legal authority that we can see to make that case.”
Host Joe Scarborough then read from a National Archives regulation that “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.”
Brock maintained that Hillary followed this rule because “the State Department said yesterday that the e-mails were regularly preserved and appropriately preserved.”
Scarborough then asked whether or not Clinton had preserved the e-mails inside the State Department’s system, to which Brock wondered if that Scarborough’s “legal opinion.”
After host Mika Brzezinski argued that the regulation was “pretty clear,” Brock then shifted his argument to “it’s not clear that didn’t happen, 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’s talking about.” He further declared that “there was no violation of law here, Joe, whatsoever.”
Bob Woodward then told Brock “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, you know, where the wall’s green, is that really illegal, and so forth. It’s an important story, and won’t you concede that?”
Brock replied, “I would concede that it’s 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 says she didn’t. That doesn’t sound like a good story to me.” Woodward then argued that Brock was “twisting” the story.
Brock denied this and added “her predecessors followed the same practice, Bob.”
Brezezinski then weighed in “and some of her predecessors had different rules. There are regulations that are in place, we just read one to you, David, and my question to you is who has control over the e-mails that Hillary Clinton had between other governments, people in the State Department, and during her time as Secretary of State? Hillary Clinton, correct? Or the State Department?”
“Well, I think both. I mean, Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State,” Brock responded.
Brezezinski followed up “isn’t that potentially — isn’t that a violation of regulation, yes or no?”
Brock replied “no…there’s not an independent legal authority who’s backing up what you’re saying.”
Brezezinski then stated “I’m not sure what planet I’m on right now. Are you reading the same thing we are?”
Brock then cited the 55,000 pages of e-mails turned over the State Department by Clinton as evidence she complied with the law.
Scarborough then asked whether Josh Earnest’s statement that “employees of the Obama administration should use their official e-mail accounts when they’re conducting official government business,” and if personal e-mail accounts are used, they should preserved consistent with the law would undercut Clinton. Brock stated “I don’t think so, Joe, at all. I don’t see how that would be. I believe he’s talking about guidance that was given after Hillary Clinton left office. So, it’s correct now that the personal e-mail use is frowned upon for sure, but, those were not the regulations that she was operating under or that Colin Powell was operating under. So, all I’m saying here, let’s not have a situation where the normal journalistic rules apply to everybody, but Hillary Clinton. And let’s not — let’s not forget that the real story here is that you’ve got a dying Benghazi investigation on Capitol Hill, there are people trying to breathe new life into it, and you know as well as i do what’s going on here. they want a fishing expedition into the e-mails, they’ve found nothing after ten investigations…the New York Times got snookered by the Benghazi folks.”
Scarborough again pointed to the 2009 law he had cited, to which Brock said “if you see any evidence in the New York Times article from yesterday that we’re talking about that supports the idea that Hillary Clinton violated the law, let me know, but we don’t see it.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett