Home 2016 elections The People Who Taught You to Hate Hillary, Part I: Judicial Watch

The People Who Taught You to Hate Hillary, Part I: Judicial Watch

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Cross-posted at Daily Kos

“Untrustworthy Hillary” is a media construct relentlessly pushed by people who gain politically from it.  Regardless of where you stand on Hillary Clinton, you owe it to yourself to know who are the players that have worked so hard for 25 years to push that meme into your consciousness.

The truth is, few stories end up in the media by accident.  Many are the result of well-funded groups promoting particular items and convincing reporters to run with them. But reporters rarely discuss their sources – for some good reasons, but for some not-so-good reasons as well. Because when you know from whence the germ of a particular story came, you may not trust it as much.

For this reason, everyone who discusses the overplayed Hillary email server story should know a few things about  Judicial Watch. As this group brags:

“[W]e expect we’ll be seeing the Clintons in court, as we have so many times before. At present, we have eighteen lawsuits, ten of which are active in the federal courts, as well as approximately one hundred and sixty Freedom of Information Act submissions, that could connect to the use by Secretary Clinton and her staff of secret email accounts.”

They have indeed gone to court in pursuit of the Clintons many, many times, including 18 major lawsuits during Bill Clinton’s administration.  These endless lawsuits and FOIA requests are designed to drive the news cycle, and at that game, Judicial Watch is a master.

Just a tiny sample of the right wing conspiracy theory topics driven by this group over the past three decades include: Benghazi, Filegate, Hillary’s email, IRS investigations, ISIS on the Mexican border, Obama czars, Obama’s trips, Ron Brown, Swift Boat Veterans, Travelgate, Vince Foster, White House visitor logs, Whitewater — and anything having to do with Huma Abedin, the Clinton Foundation, Sidney Blumenthal or anyone else closely related to the Clintons.

Judicial Watch can indeed claim credit for your opportunity to read all those boring Hillary emails about gefilte fish and such.  Speaking of fishing, the group most recently won the right to expand its expeditions by gathering depositions from three top Clinton aides – no better way to keep the 24-hour cable and social media cycles humming with suspicious-sounding content.

Judicial Watch’s method is to relentlessly pursue information that can in any way be used against its political targets, to aim this information – even if partial, misleading, or flat out wrong – at conservative media outlets from Breitbart to Fox, which generate hype and get Republican office holders talking about them, forcing mainstream media to get into the game or else be accused of cover-ups, “liberal bias”, etc.  This dynamic unfortunately leads to some very poor reporting.

Which has certainly been the case with the Hillary email story.  Indeed, the New York Times story that launched all the hoopla about the FBI investigation was, in the paper’s own words, “fraught with inaccuracies.”  The story falsely claimed that Hillary was the target of the investigation, when she is not; that it was a criminal inquiry, which it is not; and like many stories on this topic, was unclear about the critical questions of what constitutes classified information.

Another example of awful reporting was the ludicrous suggestion reported in the Washington Post that the FBI had assigned 147 agents to the email case – one that the Post and others who picked up the story quickly had to recant, as the actual number is perhaps 12.

All such bad reporting has fed the conservative mantra that “Hillary is going to jail” despite the fact that such an outcome is very unlikely considered the neither nefarious nor harmful nature of her email infraction.  Thankfully, an increasing number of media outlets are starting to report this reality, such as here, here, here, and here.

While Judicial Watch is very good at playing the Game of Courts, often all the sound and fury they generate ultimately leads to little enlightenment, not to mention, well, few criminal convictions.  With much credit owing to Judicial Watch and its allies, the US government spent $80 million on special prosecutor investigations during the Clinton administration. Can anyone explain to me what value I and other taxpayers gained from that $80 million, which might have been put to countless better uses?

What they have left is a ominous odor of corruption, based not on facts but on endless innuendo, bad reporting and conservative hype.  And what does Judicial Watch gain from all of this?

Publicity and funding, for a start.  Judicial Watch has received millions of dollars from conservative sources including the Scaife, Olin and Carthage Foundations.  They do, after all, deliver the goods – “scandals” conveniently packaged for conservative consumption.

Furthermore, for all the group talks about highfalutin goals of government transparency, its own agenda is pretty transparent as well.  Larry Klayman, longtime leader of the group who departed it in recent years, has become one of the most notorious birthers, proclaiming President Obama “Muslim of the Year” in 2015 and once imploring his followers “to demand that this president leave town, to put the Koran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.”

Judicial Watch continues to hype spurious, sensational stories with political fallout, such as the one in August 2014 about ISIS supposedly setting up operations on the US-Mexico border.  It was complete nonsense, of course, but it received intense publicity from conservatives and helped motivate them to vote in the 2014 midterm elections.

And really, that’s what this is all about.  So, when you hear media and politically figures endlessly telling you that “Hillary is untrustworthy”, please spend a little time looking into the facts and the sources of these premises. Instead of simply believing the memes, ask why they exist and who is behind them.  And keep your eyes out for the little men behind the curtain.

  • Steve Bennett

    Judicial Watch sued the Bush administration for FOIA also. JW and groups like it are the last hope for our country to root out crony corruption and abuse, which is the only bi-partisanship that presently exists in DC. The person squarely behind Hillary’s disastrous press is Hillary.

    • Kindler

      So ISIS really is at our borders and Obama really is an evil Muslim?

      • Truth

        ISIS is active inside the U.S. and if you think they aren’t you’re dumb. Just because they aren’t actively making attacks doesn’t mean they aren’t making moves/setting up operations. America has proven it cannot keep the terrorists out.

        Mexico isn’t even run by it’s official government. The Drug Cartels rule that country. Why do you think the poor mexican people are always fleeing north to the U.S.A where half the population hates them and we frequently treat them like unpleasant-but-convenient slave laborers? ISIS would have 0 difficulty setting up operations on our southern border.

        Obama isn’t an evil muslim. Or a Muslim. But he is corporate crony like the rest of the Dem and Repub establishment. He is a liar who made many, many, many campaign promises and then failed to fulfill any major one of them in a fashion resembling the promise.

        Still a Terrible Job, Kindler.

  • Yale Landsberg

    The O’Reilly Factor spins itself as a no spin zone. But it sure spins a lot of spin. On the other side, there is Blue Virginia, with no spin, yes?

    Yet there are these days New Democrats (started by Bill Clinton), who, whether they know it or not, support the new kind of corporatism that currupts both political parties’ leaderships, and aggressively seeks to distract and divide most of us who are in the 99%. Then there are more and more Old Democrats like Bernie supporters who have had enough with what the New Democrats have given them and others in our once great and well-loved country (and taken away). Then there is freedom-fighting Blue Virginia which is supporting New Democrat policies and candidates. New Democrats supported by Blue Virginia love to say negative things about Republicans, but when push comes to shove are very often not much different from Republicans in terms of votes against vs. for the best interests of us who are the working and dwinding middle classes. Things like free public college tuition, one-payer Medicare-like health care insurance, preventing the loss of U.S. sovereignty by stopping the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact…

    Blue virginia is blue, but blue for who? And why? Just asking.

    • Translation: Yale is mad that we’re supporting Democrats like Jane Dittmar for Congress from the 5th CD, where he’s running as an Independent “national populist and centrist/run-to-stop-the-sky-from-falling-on-us-99% call-to-action” candidate (http://yale4congress.com/), and against “politicos who keep serving us the same old BLUE and RED Kool-Aid.” Alrighty then.

    • Kindler

      The chasm between the build-a-wall, ban-Muslims, keep-gays-out-of-our-bathrooms Republicans vs. mainstream Democrats like Hillary is vast. Take the example of imperfect Democrat Terry McAuliffe reinstating voter rights for former convicts. Would a Governor Cuccinelli ever have done such a thing? Not in your wildest dreams.

      THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. Failing to acknowledge the many, many distinctions there, and saying Dems and Repubs are mostly the same, is simply lazy thinking.

      • Yale Landsberg

        Yes, indeed. , you are right on!!! From that perspective, there are indeed huge differences.

        On the other hand, a question if you do not mind: When it comes to things like an ObamaCare health care insurance plan much loved and greatly lobbied for by the health care industry vs. a single-payer MediCare-like one, and free public college for all vs. not, and voting for loss of US sovereignty vs. voting to protect US sovereignty per trade pacts… are you proposing that there are no big differences between Hillary’s New and Bernie’s new Old Democrats? Or are you simply suggesting that those big differences should not be of any signicant consequence in our political cycles?

        • Kindler

          Sure, there are big differences between Bernie’s & Hillary’s platforms, but I have yet to hear how Bernie would achieve such massive lifts as getting us to single-payer, after seeing all the work it took to get and keep Obamacare, which Republicans are still united in pledging to repeal.

          • Yale Landsberg

            Fwiw, I am of the perhaps silly opinion that Bernie’s political revolution is very much about the questions that you just very wisely and rightly raised, and which can only be perhaps answered by voting into office old time progressive Democrats AnD Republicans and voting out of office New Democrats and New Republicans, both of which seek to distract us and diviide us instead of uniting us in truly democratic republic ways. There once was a time when candidates were more candid than most candidates on both sides of the aisle are now. Maybe there will be again, if more amateurs seek to out (in both senses of that word) the pros now ruling and rigging the game with the aid ofbgerrymandering, and Citizens United, and rigged primaries… Because at the end of the day, it is not just a game, yes?

          • “by voting into office old time progressive Democrats AND Republicans”

            Unfortunately, there haven’t been any “progressive Republicans” to speak of in many, many years (note: I started off as one of those in the late 1970s as a teenager, right before the “Reagan Revolution” and the “Christian Coalition”/”Moral Majority” rose to power and drove people like me out of the party).. At this point, the only real choices in this country are: 1) Tea Party Republicans (e.g., Ken Cuccinelli, Marco Rubio); 2) theocratic Republicans (e.g., Ted Cruz, EW Jackson); 3) Donald Trump Republicans; 4) pro-business/anti-government Republicans (e.g., John Kasich, Ed Gillespie), 5) mainstream Democrats (e.g., Tim Kaine, Tom Perriello); 6) super-progressive Democrats/independents/socialists like Sanders and many of his supporters (I’d throw Elizabeth Warren into this category as well). Personally, I lean strongly towards #5, although I certainly like several of things Sanders advocates (e.g., single-payer healthcare if we can ever get it passed; a super-aggressive move off of fossil fuels and towards a clean energy economy).

          • Yale Landsberg

            Fwiw, I began in the early ’70’s as a volunteer for Jacob Javitts, ironically while working at McKinsey & Co. in NYC at it headquarters as a computer applications consultant in support of engagements performed by the Harvard MBA, et al. types.

            That being said, just as Bernie’s campaign is likely to morph into a new old Democrat movement led by millennials, so too perhaps there will be a similar one started as young pro Trump supporters morph into TR type ones. Maybe.

            In any case, I sure hope so for the good of all of us 99%. Time will tell.

  • Yale Landsberg

    If I did not know any better, I would guess that you are one of my many fans here in Virginia and across the good old USA who is slyly mentioning my patriotic though admittedly quixotic and even exotic http://WE4Congress.US project. In any case, much thanks for outing me, especially as I had neither mentioned Jane nor my own views about running instead of juct complaining. But instead just compared New Democrat support of uber-corporatism versus Old Democrat support of popularism, a term for the interests and right of we the people, these days so greatly derided by The Third Way think tank of the New Democrats.

  • itoldyou

    Say Comey sets of a personal server to conduct all FBI business. You would be screaming he can’t do that he would be endangering National Security. Why is it the SD , WH, and DoJ have been lying and covering for H

    • Kindler

      She’s admitted it’s a mistake and paid a political price for it.

      That said, all the people who say she deserves to go to prison for such a thing are taking this thing way too far. I link to a number of sources who more reasonably discuss the matter above. It was a bureaucratic protocol infraction, not a threat in any way to national security.

      • Bernie nailed it on this one: “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Ridiculous non-issue, but perfect for the right-wing noise machine.

        • itoldyou

          That is the talking point It is old news. But the E mails are only part of the crimes she committed.

          • notjohnsmosby

            Except it’s not a crime.

      • itoldyou

        If she had a gov E mail like she should have had and once or twice sent a classified doc that would be understandable but she set the system up before she even took the job and planned to send all of her E mails outside of gov knowledge She was getting instructions in how to safeguard her records are the very same time She endangered every american But tell me why she did it

        • Kindler

          She “endangered every American”? You’re joking, right?

          • TheTruth

            Look up ‘Special Access Programs’ level classification. Educate yourself about the realities of the sensitivity of that level of information.

            Then come back and say she didn’t endanger our entire country.

            That act, and that act alone, disqualifies her from any government service ever again in the eyes of everyone who has ever held a security clearance and has a smidge of integrity.

          • Kindler

            Petraeus knowingly leaked classified information to the woman he was sleeping with for his biography while he was head of the CIA. Hillary leaked absolutely nothing to anyone. If you want to cite your scholars, provide a link — and not to Fox Noise.

  • Matt

    Once I got to “vast right wing conspiracy” I stopped. If you would switch the name from “Hillary” to “Barack” you could do a story. You don’t see him with as many haters as the Clintons and for good reason.

    Sometimes people miss the technical details too much and sometimes people use the technical details too much to understand things.

    • Craigslist Redshirt1

      So basically you read up to the part just before he got into the factual info you should have been taking a look at; how brave

      • Matt

        Why should I read any further? Anyone that uses “vast right wing conspiracy” is highly suspect of being a Clinton shill. In politics, no one ever does anything wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. That’s how criminals talk too. They didn’t do it. They were framed.

        • Craigslist Redshirt1

          I think if you’re ignorant that Richard Mellon Scaife’s Arkansas Project was a thing, you may not want to comment on subjects you are ignorant about. You also demonstrate you like to dismiss people saying things you don’t like for flimsy, petty reasons

          • Matt

            So if you come across a website and they start talking about how Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer or whatever a portion of the country believes, you would keep reading it and thinking that it has any clout that you should take into account?

          • Craigslist Redshirt1

            No, but I do have credible sources of information demonstrating Scaife did wage his campaign

  • Great job, kindler, I look forward to parts 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. — going to be a long series given how many right-wing groups have worked to smear the Clintons over the years.

    • Kindler

      Thanks, man – only as many more parts as I can squeeze out time for, so — feel free to pitch in!

      • Truth

        Terrible Job, Kindler. Hillary is a horrendous person. Please go listen to her proudly describing and then laughing about using legal tricks to get a guilty child rapist off.

        Terrible job, Kindler. Hillary is anti-Feminist. The Clinton Foundation pays women 38% less than men. She’s admitted to being willing to ‘compromise’ on abortion. She uses her gender as a shield against criticism.

        Terrible job, Kindler. Hillary is a warmonger. Please refer to every wasteful, sacrificial, damaging, regressive military action she’s supported (that meaning all of them, always, all the time. Hillary LOVES War.)

        Terrible job, Kindler. Hillary is a threat to national security. The email server is a big, real deal. There is no ‘over-classification’ for Top Secret/S.A.P level info.

        Terrible job, Kindler. Hillary is a Gun Runner. Tens of millions from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to The Clinton Foundation? Check? Hundreds of millions of weapons sold to them right after? Check.

        Terrible job, Kindler. Hillary is a racist. “I’m proud that I was a Goldwater Girl.” “Superpredators.” Robert Byrd. Pandering.

        Terrible job, Kindler. Hillary is anti-LGBT. “Interviewer: Should New York legalize Gay Marriage?” “Hillary: No.” “Hillary: I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

        Terrible job, Kindler. Hillary is corrupt. Pre-Insurance company donations = Hillarycare. Post-Insurance company donations = Universal Healthcare will NEVER HAPPEN.

        Terrible job, Kindler.

        • Kindler

          Wow, you do more cherry picking than the United Farmworkers. You even went back to her high school days as a “Goldwater girl.” Why nothing from kindergarten?

          Thanks for all the helpful links to credible sources for all of this information. Oh wait, that’s right, you provided no links whatsoever…

      • TheTruth

        You can block my Disqus account, Kindler, but you can’t stop me.

        Also, considering I did not cuss, threaten, discriminate, or express prejudiced ideals your censoring of my Speech shows you for what you truly are. Someone whose narrative cannot survive free expression from those who disagree with you.

        Don’t worry, I’m done absolutely wrecking you for now.

        But I’ll be back for ‘Part 2’.

  • Jeremy Clark

    Mock, dismiss, fluff, fluff, fluff, ad hominem, mock, dismiss…and so we start the series that makes you trust Hillary on the basis that we can trash talk anyone who ever said anything about her we don’t like.

    Critics agree, Blue Virginia’s groundbreaking examination of people who ever opposed Hillary is “not a bucket full of dung and lies”

    “A triumph against ignorance” – some idiot in the 5th orbit of Hillary’s social circle

    “Hillary is so beautiful!!! I can’t wait for her to be president!!! Go Hillary!!!” – a 1099 Barrier Breaker

    • Kindler

      I’d like to respond but I’m afraid I’m not fluent in whatever language it is in which you are attempting to converse. Palinese?

  • BodieF

    One would think after leaving the White House, starting a foundation to launder money into and being rejected in 2008, Hillary Clinton would have experienced an “awakening” but no. Hillary amazingly gives talks for less than an hour to banks, Keystone investors, drug and chemical companies and makes over $1,000,000 for less than 5 hours. If you are an American lucky enough to make $50,000 a year you must work for 5,200 hours to makes what she earns in less than 5 hours and everyone knows why she was paid this obscene amount…..she is selling access. This woman vacations with Henry Kissinger, a man that if I was in the same room with I would chant, “War criminal!” until they dragged me away. Now it comes out she is laundering money through the DNC because most of her donors have topped out. She and her husband bought the presidency in 1992 and bought the DNC after 2008. She is a corrupt relic who dismisses her super predator husband’s behavior as being “off the reservation” while the grotesque ex president has the audacity to say the WV native Americans have nothing because they do not have gambling.

    Google “Progressive review Clinton” to see how corrupt team Clinton are.