Media Matters for America, a liberal group that is "dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media," wrote an entire post about me on Friday.
Here's the headline: "50 Headlines That Reveal Wash. Post Reporter Chris Cillizza's Obsession With The Clinton Email Story." The thesis, as you might have guessed, is that I am overly focused on the alleged non-story of the former secretary of state's private e-mail server. Wrote Hannah Groch-Begley:
Mainstream media outlets have attempted to find some scandal in the email story, often pushing various falsehoods and being forced to issue corrections after the fact. To date, there has been no evidence of any lawbreaking. Cillizza has been a major contributor to this effort, repeatedly claiming the email story 'just keeps getting worse' and that it's 'not going away,' while claiming Clinton has an 'honesty problem' and should 'start panicking.'
I didn't check Media Matters's math, but I'm sure it's either right or close to right. I have written lots and lots of blog posts about Hillary Clinton's e-mail issues since the story came to light in March. And I stand by every one.
1. Hillary Clinton began this race as the biggest non-incumbent front-runner for a party's presidential nomination in the post-World War II era. The job she held just prior to running for president was as secretary of state. The best way to understand how she handles everything from the mundane day-to-day activities of governance to the crises that present themselves from time to time is by studying not just her public actions at the State Department but the thinking behind those decisions. Her e-mails provide a written record of how she thinks, who she relies on and how she navigates sticky situations. Her e-mails are essential to who she is. And, therefore, very much worth looking into -- and writing about.
2. No secretary of state has ever used a private e-mail server exclusively. For all of Clinton's insistence that this was standard operating procedure for government officials, it wasn't. Yes, lots and lots of government officials have used both a government e-mail address and a private e-mail address. None before Clinton had used only a private server. That makes what she did anomalous -- and worth paying attention to.
3. The story about the e-mail server has changed. Repeatedly. When Clinton acknowledged the existence of the server back in March -- following a New York Times report revealing it -- she insisted that the private server need not be examined by a third party. She (finally) turned it over last month. She said that the handing over of the e-mails was a procedure that all former and current secretaries of state were undergoing at the same time. But, as reporting from The Post this week showed, the State Department specifically requested Clinton's e-mails after they realized she had used private e-mail exclusively. It wasn't until months later that requests for documents was made of other former secretaries of state. A story that keeps changing like that bears further analysis and investigation.
4. I write a blog. I write a lot of posts. On Friday, for example, I wrote three blog posts and did a live online chat. This is not to brag (quantity doesn't always mean quality). It is to say that 50 posts that mention "Hillary Clinton" and "e-mails" between March and mid-September sound like a ton, but they're really not. I guarantee you that I have written more than 50 posts about Donald Trump in that time.
I understand that organizations like Media Matters exist to work the referees. And, I also understand that plenty of people who are sympathetic to Clinton -- and maybe even some who are not -- think the e-mail server is a non-issue. But, I would ask you to think of this: If this controversy -- with the exact same circumstances -- was centered on a former Republican secretary of state who was the frontrunner for the GOP's nod, would you still think it was unfair?
All I can do is report and analyze as fairly as I know how. That's what I've done for the last 17 years -- and what I will continue to do for as long as I can.