The made-up email 'scandal' has given the media plenty to talk about and Hillary definitely made mistakes handling it. Even her most ardent supporters wish she had laid out the entire issue clearly from the start including the latest revelation she and Bill paid state department official Bryan Pagliano for his technical assistance related to installing and maintaining the email system. It appears this was totally legal and ensured it didn't cost taxpayers one penny. Yet the incessant drip of information clearly hurts her. But what the Clinton's have found over years is no matter what they say, or when they say it, they will be attacked.
On Sunday morning, Chuck Todd smirks with glee when the panel he assembled for Meet the Press attacks Hillary and spouts fallacies which he wouldn't dream of challenging. Tom Brokaw, brought out of retirement, looks gleeful as he talks about what he calls Hillary's 'big mistakes.' Only one panelist even suggests Biden's popularity will plummet if he becomes a candidate. The banner running during the show is "Hillary's declining numbers." Todd laughs as he says someone suggested, "Other candidates with Hillary's polling numbers would be celebrating," which is similar to a line I wrote in Huffington Post, but then drops that discussion without much comment.
Headlines tout Sanders' lead in New Hampshire is nine percent with little reporting about the 1,300 cheering people at a Clinton rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) endorsed her. Pollsters might be wise to remember New Hampshire women do make a difference. In 2008 Obama went into New Hampshire with his bump from winning Iowa and a nine percent lead then Clinton won by nearly three percent.
Republican attacks as far back as Whitewater and amplified by the media continue. It was anticipated Clinton's poll numbers would come down from their highs yet she maintains a huge lead nationally in the Democratic primary.
While a reporter with the stature of Andrea Mitchell should have had better questions to ask instead of devoting twelve minutes of her interview to the email issue, Clinton's responses were more open and she did well responding more seriously to the issue. Though a fake 'scandal' and self-inflicted, the campaign is realizing it is making even her most ardent supporters skittish though none are deserting her over it and Democrats across the country still maintain their overwhelming support for her.
Hillary Clinton learned from 2008 and her campaign is focused on the basics. They are building organizations in every primary state and in the unlikely event she loses both Iowa and New Hampshire, which I don't believe she will, South Carolina and Nevada will be her wins as will the states voting on March 1st in the South. Those delegates along with support from superdelegates should pretty much ensure her the nomination. But in Iowa where most polls show her well ahead with an organization in all 99 counties, it will still take hard work to keep the lead and bring people to the caucuses. This time around Hillary was smart and brought in many of the people who helped President Obama win in 2008. David Axelrod who led Obama's 2008 campaign to victory recently said on CNN, "If Hillary were a stock I would buy now because she is undervalued."
The media has a penchant for building politicians up so they can tear them down. But it's at our peril if we forget they are often inclined to change their tune again; remember the 'comeback kid'?
Clearly presidential election polls are often all over the place as we saw in 2012 with Romney predicted to win a month before the election. It shows the worthlessness of polling potential match-ups before candidates even secure their party's nomination. But polling organizations do them anyway and the media waits for any outlier poll that can make for an exciting headline.
Unfortunately, news reporting has become something akin to entertainment; focused more on what will attract readers and viewers than on imparting actual facts or pertinent information. The Washington Post recently had a banner headline written to attract attention then contradicted in the story. The print edition headline was Clinton wrote, sent classified e-mails on private server. When challenged the Post changed the headline online to 'Clinton, using private server, wrote and sent e-mails now deemed classified'. No apology or correction ever appeared in the Print edition.
Electing a President is serious business and it's time we the public held the media to a higher standard.