Since the August 8 FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, outraged TV journalists on CNN and MSNBC have slammed former President Trump for storing once-classified documents at his private residence. Yet back in 2015, those same networks were maniacally defensive of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was under investigation for storing highly sensitive material on a private server.
During the 2016 election cycle, the establishment media felt Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information was no big deal. Reporters frequently lamented that the issue was “distracting” from her presidential campaign, and wondered at length when it would all finally “go away.”
Veteran NPR reporter Cokie Roberts was aghast that the FBI were wasting their time looking into Clinton at all. During a guest appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, she harrumphed:
A hundred and forty-seven FBI agents are focused on this? I mean, don’t they have other problems?...There’s no crime in the country they should be worrying about?
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell worried that Clinton was draped in “a cloud of suspicion” by “those who just want to see conspiracy theories.” She added: “there’s almost no way she can clear this up to the satisfaction of critics on the other side in terms of the politics of this, and it’s taking its toll.”
Time Warner anchor and analyst Errol Louis echoed that sentiment as a guest on CNN’s New Day:
In the kangaroo courts of right-wing talk radio, for Donald Trump, for the Republican Party… they have already convicted her. They have already decided that she has done something criminal. And I don’t think their talking points are going to change one bit, based on whatever facts come out of it.
Fast-forward to 2022, and suddenly the media are deeply concerned about the proper protocols for storing classified information.
On the August 26 edition of CNN’s The Lead, fill-in host Ana Cabrera teased a segment about the Mar-a-Lago raid by asking: “Could some of the boxes recovered from the former President put national security and perhaps lives at risk?”
Meanwhile on MSNBC’s The Last Word, network contributor Neal Katyal declared that Trump had broken a “moral oath” by bringing the documents to his private residence.
When you have this kind of information, you have the strongest responsibility, a kind of moral oath, to safeguard it really carefully… And what did Donald Trump do? He brought them to a golf club? I mean, give me a break. This is as bad as it gets.
Despite the obvious differences, the Trump and Clinton scandals are similar enough to merit a comparison. Yet the media’s handling of the two stories could not be more different, and the reason is obvious to everyone.