Media Outlets Oversell — Then Walk Back — Headlines On FBI’s Clinton Email Announcement

LIS POWER/Media Matters

Media outlets were quick to follow the lead of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who claimed that a letter from FBI Director James Comey indicated that the FBI had “reopened” its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. However, as the facts started to trickle in, outlets scrambled to walk back their headlines to more accurately portray the information.

This afternoon, Comey released a letter to congressional leaders stating, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation” and “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” Comey noted that he was not sure how long the review will take and the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”

Media outlets were quick to blast out the story mostly running with Chaffetz’s framing, that a new investigation surrounding Clinton was being conducted — with several having to walk back their headlines as it became clear that the story was significantly less dramatic.

The Washington Post’s report was initially headlined “FBI to conduct new investigation of emails from Clinton’s private server.”

The article was subsequently updated with the new headline “FBI to take new ‘investigative steps’ on Clinton emails.”

Updated: FBI to take new ‘investigative steps’ on Clinton emails  via @PostRoz

Photo published for Computer seized in Weiner probe prompts FBI to take new steps in Clinton email inquiry

Computer seized in Weiner probe prompts FBI to take new steps in Clinton email inquiry

Election eve announcement could shake campaign

The Post wasn’t the only media organization fooled. Politico’s initial tweet stated “#BREAKING: FBI reopens @HillaryClinton email server investigation.”

But the current headline on the Politico article states “FBI reviewing new evidence in Clinton email probe.” also sent some mixed signals, with the front page reading “FBI reopens Clinton email probe,” the breaking news banner reading “The FBI is reopening the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server,” and the article headlined “FBI reviewing new emails in classified information probe.”

As Politico’s Hadas Gold noted, because Rep. Chaffetz claimed that the FBI was reopening the case, there was mass confusion in the reporting after the fact, leading outlets to run with headlines that didn’t reflect reality.


Journalists Criticize Outlets Who Ignored FBI Letter And Ran With Republican Congressman’s Spin

BRENNAN SUEN/Media Matters

After some media outlets ran with a misleading story that the FBI planned to examine new evidence associated with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email server, numerous reporters and media figures criticized the initial coverage for using Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) spin rather than the actual letter from FBI Director James Comey, which said only that new emails “pertinent”  to the investigation had been discovered and will be assessed.

Journalists: “Do Some Investigation Before You Go To Print” With A Story From Jason Chaffetz

Dear Reporters:

If Jason Chaffetz gives you a story, and you care about accuracy, do some investigation before you go to print.

Interesting thing to watch: How local newspapers hed it. Chaffetz description of what Comey said is not holding up 

A distinction: Comey did not say ‘reopening investigation.’ That language came from House Oversight Chair @jasoninthehouse.

As I said in my piece, Comey did not say case reopened. Rep Chaffetz said that. Now FBI saying to reporters on background thats incorrect.

1) Chaffetz said re-opened
2) NBC said re-opened
3) Other media began reporting and decoding concise Comey letter 

1.Comey speaks. 2.Chaffetz over-reacts. 3. Dems panic. 4. Twitter freaks. 5. Markets jump. 6. Reporters report. 7. New Trump video surfaces.

Let’s look at politics. Chaffetz, who’s cuddled up to DJT, seems to be first to talk about it…made it sound far graver than letter (1/2)

Media immediately gives it Chaffetz’s characterization, rather than much more vague characterization of Comey’s letter. No? (2/2)

Lots of bad headlines re Comey letter. Reason? Instead of leading with letter, reporters led with Republicans view of the letter.

Leaks and spin from Chaffetz, Gowdy et al are baker’s chocolate, and reporters are children who think “maybe it’ll taste sweet this time!” 

FBI Director James Comey Schooled by Former DOJ Spokesman for Abusing His Power

By Sarah Jones/politicususa

Former DOJ spokesman for Eric Holder Matthew Miller, a self described “recovering flack from DOJ, DSCC”, schooled Republican FBI Director James Comey for violating his power and lambasted him for commenting on a case within 60 days of an election.

“The department and the FBI have very strict rules about when they can comment on ongoing cases and Director Comey has violated those rules going back to his original press conference when he closed the case,” Miller said on CNN. “But this latest example violates a long standing practice which is that the department goes out of its way not to do anything that can be seen as trying to influence an election in the closing days of an election, and usually they interpret the closing days to be seen as the last 60 days let alone the last 11 days.”

Watch here:

Miller also held school on Twitter about Comey’s abuse of power, which has led to Hillary Clinton having to defend against a negative:

I wrote a piece in July on why Comey’s public comments about Clinton were such an inappropriate abuse of power. 1/ 

Photo published for James Comey’s abuse of power

James Comey’s abuse of power

The FBI director violated time-honored Justice Dept. practices with his remarks about Clinton’s emails.

He flagrantly violated DOJ rules with his press conference. Then went on to break new ground discussing details of the case to Congress…2/

Followed by quickly releasing FBI 302’s, something they rarely do, and which I doubt they will do for future high-profile cases. 3/

Each time, he either violated or seriously stretched DOJ rule & precedent. Press conference was the original sin, & it begat the rest. 4/

But today’s disclosure might be worst abuse yet. DOJ goes out of its way to avoid publicly discussing investigations close to election. 5/

Not just public discussion either. Often won’t send subpoenas or take other steps that might leak until after an election is over…6/

Why? Because voters have no way to interpret FBI/DOJ activity in a neutral way. Who is the target of an investigation? What conduct? 7/

This might be totally benign & not even involve Clinton. But no way for press or voters to know that. Easy for opponent to make hay over. 8/

Which takes us back to the original rule: you don’t comment on ongoing investigations. Then multiply that times ten close to an election. 9/

For whatever reason (& there are many theories), Comey continues to ignore that. But only for Clinton. 10/

FBI is undoubtedly investigating links between the Russian hack, Manafort, & the Trump campaign. But aren’t commenting on it. Good! 11/

Miller points out, “This just smells worse and worse the more we learn”, linking to this:

Emails “were not to or from Clinton” and appeared like info FBI already had. WTF??? 

Photo published for FBI says that emails found in Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal may have links to Clinton probe

FBI says that emails found in Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal may have links to Clinton probe

Just as Hillary Clinton appeared to be cruising to election day with the wind at her back, the FBI rattled the presidential race Friday by announcing it is again probing emails that might be related…

The problem with Comey’s actions isn’t that he is investigating Hillary Clinton; the problem is he is violating long standing rules that prohibit federal employees from doing anything that could be seen as political near an election. It is an established rule that ongoing investigations aren’t commented on for obvious reasons.

This is quite simply not done. Comey’s reasons for doing this are unclear, and perhaps when he provides more information his decision will make more sense. But it’s troubling that we are seeing such a consistent breakdown of tradition and rules/agreements of law surrounding the Trump campaign, which seems to have lowered the bar all around.

Iowa for voter fraud after allegedly attempting to ‘rig’ election


An Iowa Republican voter has been arrested for attempting to vote twice in the election. Terri Lynn Rote, 55, has been charged with first-degree election misconduct.

The Hill cites a Des Moines Register report that Rote allegedly voted early at an election office in Des Moines but then attempted to cast another ballot at another location.

Rote is one of three people in the state currently being charged with voter fraud. The two previous people allegedly voted in person and attempted to send mail-in ballots as well. However, Rote is the only person to officially be arrested.

According to The Blaze, Rote in an avid Trump supporter.

Trump has warned his supporters about the election being “rigged,” claiming that dead people are voting and Democrats are attempting to steal the election. He’s encouraged his supporters to stalk voters at the polls and observe polling places in communities of color.


FBI Director James Comey under fire from Democrats and Republicans after Clinton email announcement


FBI Director James Comey is coming under fire for his terse announcement on Friday that in light of new information, his agency is reviewing its findings from the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. said that to many observers, Comey’s statement “appeared too vague for an announcement sure to shake up the presidential race with less than two weeks until Election Day, critics on both sides of the aisle claimed.”

John Weaver — an aide to Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich — wrote on Twitter, “Director Comey should give a more complete explanation. Is this reviewing newly found emails? Is this reopening? Too much at stake.”

Director Comey should give a more complete explanation. Is this reviewing newly found emails? Is this reopening? Too much at stake.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asked why Comey would chose this tense and divided time to make such a potentially provocative announcement.

“Why is FBI doing this just 11 days before the election?” Cornyn demanded to know.

Agreed. @JohnCornyn The letter is ridiculously cryptic with no new information. People are voting today – it isn’t 11 days before

New York Times columnist and Clinton supporter Paul Krugman blasted Comey for making a “partisan intervention” in the electoral process.

Comey needs to provide full info immediately. Otherwise he has clearly made a partisan intervention, betraying his office.

NBC News reporter Tom Winter said that there are 3 emails under review and that none of them were previously withheld from investigators by Clinton or her campaign.

“NEW: NBC’s Pete Williams reports that the e-mails Comey announced today were NOT originally withheld by Clinton or campaign,” he said.

Gun store runs ad saying it won’t sell to Muslims, Clinton supporters

Kira Lerner/Think Progress

Paul Chandler, the owner of Altra Firearms in rural Jackson Center, Pennsylvania, says he turns customers away at his door who are Muslim or who are supporting Hillary Clinton for president.

Altra Firearms’ ad in a local newspaper. CREDIT: Dorey Scheimer

The 54-year-old business owner posted a sign on the door of Altra Firearms conveying those rules, and he’s currently running an ad in a local newspaper declaring: “Please NO Muslims or Hillary Supporters — We do not feel safe selling to terrorists!”

Chandler told ThinkProgress that, as the owner of a store that brands itself as “politically incorrect firearms,” he is free to turn Democrats and Muslims away.

“She’s clearly stated that she doesn’t think Americans should have what she calls ‘assault weapons’ or even guns themselves,” he said about Clinton. The Democratic nominee has said she believes in people’s right to keep an bear arms, and will not abolish the Second Amendment.

“It’s incrementalism,” he added. “She will take one gun away and then she’ll take the next gun and the next gun until finally there’s no guns. So if you’re supporting her, I’m not going to arm you.”

The stance is nothing new — Chandler said he has had a sign on his door telling supporters of President Obama to “go to hell,” and that he has never been comfortable selling firearms to Muslims.

“They want to destroy America, they want to destroy the American way of life,” he said. “And so we’re putting more and more Muslims, the religion that has declared war against us, here, and I don’t feel safe arming them.”

As for Obama and Clinton supporters, Chandler said they have clearly stated they “want to take guns out of the hands of people, and if they don’t want guns in the hands of people, I’m helping them not to be a hypocrite.”

After speaking with ThinkProgress, Chandler shared three photos on Altra Firearms’s Facebook page showing the signage around his store. The Facebook page has since been deleted.

A t-shirt reading “Back from the grave to defend constitutional terrorists,” and a sign at the Pennsylvania gun store. CREDIT: Altra Firearms’ Facebook

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion at public accommodations, although it’s unclear if a gun store qualifies. In 2015, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sued a different store in Florida which declared itself a “Muslim Free Zone.” But the lawsuit was thrown out when a judge ruled that the store’s policy “did not present an imminent and concrete threat to Muslim people.” A representative from CAIR said the group “lost because of legal standing, not because of the merit of its argument,” according to the Washington Post.

Representatives from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives argue that licensed gun deals have broad discretion to deny sales, like in instances where they believe a customer is making a straw purchase. Chandler maintains that his discrimination on the basis of religion is completely legal, and that he’s acting just like a bartender who refuses to sell drinks to intoxicated patrons who have to drive home.

“We have a responsibility not to sell weapons to people we think would use them in a crime or do something illegal with them,” he said, before adding that he does not believe gun buyers should be subject to criminal background checks. “I have to be honest with you — I do not feel safe selling weapons to Muslims.”

“I’m not denying them the right,” he continued. “They can buy a gun somewhere else. I’m just not going to be the one to sell it to them.”

CREDIT: Altra Firearms’ Facebook

Chandler did acknowledge that he would have no way of knowing if a customer were Muslim unless they told him, and that he would be willing to sell to one if he were to “condemn the actions of these Muslims who are killing people.”

When ThinkProgress asked if other buyers are asked to condemn the violent actions of strangers, Chandler said he would have the same test for a Black Panther or a white supremacist. He did note that the fact that someone were wearing a swastika would not be enough for him to refuse a sale.

And asked if Christians have to condemn all of the violent acts committed by members of their religion, Chandler said he’s happy to condemn “so-called Christians who are bombing abortion clinics,” but that the Christian faith “does tend to police their own” while he said Islam does not.

“The Muslim faith is pushing the agenda,” he said. “Go to Detroit… They want Sharia law.”

In eight years of refusing Muslims and telling Obama supporters to “go to hell,” Chandler said he has had only had one customer complaint. One man wrote him an angry letter saying he would not patronize the store, but did not include his name. Chandler said he would share the letter on Facebook, but then he deleted his Facebook page.

One local Pennsylvania paper refuses to carry Altra Firearms’ ad, Chandler said, but he continues to periodically advertise in three or four other papers. A representative for the Area Shopper, which has run the ad, was not immediately available for comment.

The National Rifle Association was also not immediately available for comment.

While many employees at his store are Donald Trump supporters, Chandler says he will be voting Constitution Party for president because he doesn’t trust Trump’s commitment to the Second Amendment. Chandler said that he and Trump do agree that we should “ban all people of the Muslim faith” from entering the United States “until we get it under control.”

How one Congressman punked the media on the FBI letter about Clinton’s emails

Josh Israel/Think Progress 

FBI Director James Comey alerted Republican members of Congress on Friday that bureau investigators would review some additional emails that might relate to Hillary Clinton’s email server. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee who has already vowed to spend the next several years investigating Clinton should she be elected president, quickly rushed to announce the news, falsely claiming that the case had been “reopened.”

Minutes later, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan repeated Chaffetz’s incorrect assessment and demanded that Clinton’s classified intelligence briefings — something provided to both major party nominees — be ceased.

In a rally in New Hampshire, an ebullient Donald Trump told supporters, “The FBI has just sent a letter to Congress informing them that they have discovered new emails pertaining to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s investigation and they are reopening into the case into her criminal and illegal conduct.”
Other Republicans in Congress were quick to make the same false claims.

Though nothing in Comey’s letter said the case was being reopened, an array of news outlets repeated Chaffetz’s incorrect characterization. NBC News initially posted a story with this framing, later changing the headline and lede to drop the claim. USA Today tweeted, falsely, that the FBI director had said the probe was being reopened. The Hill and Bloomberg also got the facts wrong.

Despite the initial overreaction to the news, NBC’s Pete Williams has already reported that the newly found e-mails were not originally withheld by Clinton nor her campaign, the emails are not from Clinton, and the letter was sent to the Congressional leaders “out of an abundance of caution.” The AP reported that the emails did not come from Hillary Clinton’s private server. NBC’s sources called the story less than a game-changer.
But that did not stop Clinton’s critics from trying to turn it into one.

Trump’s ‘ghetto’ slip and what it reveals about how he thinks about black communities

Aaron Rupar/Think Progress

On the same day Donald Trump finally detailed some of his rather curious ideas for renewing America’s inner cities, he escalated his rhetoric about African American communities, referring to them as “ghettos” during a rally in Toledo, Ohio.

Trump has previously referred to black neighborhoods as “inner cities,” but on Thursday, he let slip the word “ghetto” in Freudian fashion.

Trump has long been in the habit of talking about “African American communities” and “inner cities” as though they approximate hell on earth. Immediately after blurting out “ghetto” yesterday, Trump reverted to his talking points about “the violence, the death, the lack of education, [and] no jobs. We’re going to work with the African American community, and we’re going to solve the problem of the inner city… You buy a loaf of bread and you end up getting shot.”
In fact, most African Americans don’t even live in “inner cities.” According to an Atlantic report, 52 percent of African Americans in the nation’s 100 largest cities live in the suburbs — a shift from 2000, when 55 percent lived in the cities themselves.
Trump doesn’t understand that. During the second presidential debate, he turned an unrelated question from a black audience member into a riff about how bad life is for the “African Americans” who live in “the inner cities.”


More significantly, conditions in black communities aren’t nearly as dire as Trump would have you believe. While racial inequality persists when it comes to measures such as educational attainment, poverty rates and income levels, black households are faring much better than they were decades ago. According to the latest Census data, the share of black people living in poverty is 24.1 percent. That’s much higher than the white poverty rate of 9.1 percent, but significantly lower than the 35.7 percent poverty rate among blacks in 1983.
The same can be said for crime rates. Trump has made recent violent crime increases in cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. a centerpiece of his campaign rhetoric, but drawing conclusions from small samples sizes is problematic. Longer-term trends show a steady decrease in urban violent crime over the past two decades.
As was the case with his “inner cities” answer during the second debate, Trump’s “ghetto” slip reveals something about how he views black communities and black voters. Rather than present a substantive agenda for addressing systemic racism, Trump merely lists the worst manifestations of the problem before asking, “Why not vote for a Republican for a change?” But the changes he’s proposing — including support for more unconstitutional “stop-and-frisk” policing and welfare reform that could take money out of poor families’ pockets — might roll back some of the quantifiable progress that has occurred in low-income black communities.

Blog update

Sorry, I haven’t been updating the blog between working and getting ready for my vacation I’ve been busy.  There’s no let it derp I guess conservatives around here knows what’s up and got me on the block because when I dive in the hashtag there were more anti-Trump tweets than dumb ass conservative ones.

Trump Is Ahead In Zero National Polls While The Media Continues ‘Close Race’ Narrative

By Sean Colarossi/politicususa

At least eight national polls were released on Thursday, according to RealClearPolitics, and a grand total of zero show Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton.

That’s right – not a single one shows Trump ahead in this race.

Here’s a quick rundown of the polls released today:

CNBC: Clinton +9
ABC News: Clinton +6
Pew: Clinton +6
Economist/YouGov: Clinton +5
IBD/TIPP: Clinton +2
Rasmussen: Clinton +1
Gravis: Clinton +1
LA Times: Tied

Overall, the Democratic nominee is beating Trump by an average of 5.4 points with just 12 days to go – and as millions of Americans have already cast their ballots.

On the Electoral College front, RealClearPolitics shows that Clinton is ahead in states that total 333 electoral votes. One of the states she leads in is Arizona –  a red state before Republicans nominated Trump.

To put things in perspective, Barack Obama was leading Mitt Romney by just a single percentage point on this day in 2012. That is what you call a close presidential contest, and Obama still went on to easily win.

Yet, as I write, CNN and other cable news networks continue to plaster the “close race” chyron all over their networks, claiming Donald Trump is making it a race again.

Here’s the thing: the contest between Clinton and Trump may be naturally tightening in a few polls, but that doesn’t mean it’s becoming a close race. It’s clear that, despite any one poll showing Trump gaining ground, Clinton still has a pretty durable lead.

While the media looks silly for trying to make the Clinton-Trump race seem like a nail-biter for the ages, there is also some good that can come of it – besides high TV ratings.

Clinton supporters who may have previously assumed the race was in the bag for their candidate and were becoming complacent now may recognize, at least if they watch cable news, that the “race is becoming close again.”

This should provide a last-minute boost of energy among voters who fear a Trump presidency.