By Derrick Wilburn
Each year, and periodically in between, “The Fact Checker” (journalist Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post” hands out it’s much the ballyhooed “Pinocchio Awards” to some of the year’s biggest whopper-tellers. None are immune from the Post’s poison pen as evidenced by staunch conservative Rep. Darrell Issa’s earning a Pinocchio (2013) along with Senators Rand Paul, John McCain and Rep. Paul Ryan being saddled with Pinocchios as well (2014).
Well guess who’s currently wearing the Pinocchio crown? The Washington Post has given former Secretary of State and the presumptive Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton not one, not two, but TWENTY “Pinocchios” all stemming from the neve-ending, ever-twisting, constantly morphing series of explanations, ducks, dodges and conflicting statements she’s made concerning her perpetual campaign nemesis – (no, not Bernie Sanders) her own private email server.
The Post released eight fact-checks they’ve performed concerning statements made by the former First Lady as she desperately tries to put the issue to bed but in so doing continually tosses fresh logs onto the fire. Seems explaining away why a high-ranking government official would illegally use an unsecure email server housed in her basement to send and receive top-secret information is tough to do. And for her efforts Mrs. Clinton is now appearing on a list most try hard not to.
The Post takes a statement, fact checks it and then issues a number of “Pinocchios” to signify the degree to which the “fact” is accurate or inaccurate. The following are ‘facts’ as uttered by Clinton, The Post’s findings and the number of Pinocchio’s awarded each:
The misleading Democratic spin on Hillary Clinton’s emails
March 10, 2015: Senior Democratic lawmakers argued that Clinton was the only secretary of state to turn over so many records and that her production of emails was a transparent act that is unprecedented compared with her predecessors. These were technically correct but fundamentally misleading statements, intended to deflect from the central issue: Clinton exclusively used a personal account, and did not provide records until she was requested to — after she left office.
The Democrats earned Three Pinocchios.
Fact checking Hillary Clinton’s news conference
March 16, 2015: We examined a series of statements made by Clinton at her major news conference designed to address the growing controversy — and determined that many of her claims were wanting. The pattern continued over the next year.
Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘everything I did [on emails] was permitted’
July 9, 2015: We examined Clinton’s claim that “everything I did was permitted” because “there was no law … there was no regulation.” We concluded that with her very careful language, Clinton skirts some of the important issues concerning her private email account. She appears to be arguing her case on narrow, technical grounds, but that’s not the same as actually complying with existing rules as virtually everyone else understood them.
She earned Three Pinocchios.
Clinton’s claims about receiving or sending ‘classified material’ on her private email system
Aug. 27, 2015: The issue of classified material in Clinton’s emails grew in importance after the Inspector General for the Intelligence Committee wrote Congress to say that some of the emails “contained classified State Department information when originated.” Again, we found that Clinton’s very careful and legalistic phrasing raised suspicions. The classification rules are complex, but, legal technicalities aside, the question is whether classified information was exchanged over her private email system. The answer is yes, and so Clinton earned Two Pinocchios for excessively technical wordsmithing.
Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘everyone’ knew ‘I was using a personal email’
Sept. 10, 2015: Clinton’s careful language that her email operation was “fully above board” once again obscures some basic truths about her decision to only use a private email system for government business: It was unusual, and it skirted the edge of the rules. Clinton obviously received emails from hundreds of people who realized she was using a private email address. But whether they understood it was her only means of electronic government communication is another question.
Clinton again earned Two Pinocchios.
Hillary Clinton’s incomplete timeline on her personal email account
Sept. 28, 2015: A number of readers asked the Fact Checker to explore Clinton’s stated timeline about her dealings with the State Department concerning her private email system, after new questions arose in light of The Washington Post’s report that the State Department confirmed that the triggering event to seek her emails was the congressional investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead. We concluded Clinton appears to be sticking to her timeline because it obscures the fact that she exclusively used a private email for company business.
She earned Three Pinocchios.
Hillary Clinton’s claim that 90 percent of her emails were ‘in the system’
Nov. 9, 2015: During congressional hearings, Clinton claimed that 90 to 95 percent of her emails were in the State Department system. She even wrongly suggested this calculation had been made by the State Department, when actually it was calculated by her staff. While not all of the emails she submitted to the State Department had been released at that point, what had been made available so far suggests that a substantial majority are to and from at least one “state.gov” email address. It is not an unreasonable assumption that these emails are contained somewhere within the bowels of the State Department. But we gave Clinton Three Pinocchios because she cannot make a definitive statement and certainly cannot attribute that to the State Department.
How did ‘top secret’ emails end up on Hillary Clinton’s server?
Feb. 4, 2016: We dug deep into the question of how “top secret” emails could have been located on Clinton’s unsecure email arrangement. The emails in question were sent on an unclassified system — as they would have been if she had followed standard protocol and used a state.gov account. Under State Department practice, a request for public release of her emails would have been subject to the same classification discussion currently underway. Any “top secret” communications would have been withheld.
However, if she did not have a private server, intelligence officials now would not be scrutinizing every single Clinton email for possible public release. The Clinton campaign has argued that some intelligence officials are now engaged in a game of overclassification. But this debate would not even be taking place without the decision to set up the private server in the first place.
She earned Two Pinocchios.
Why the Clinton email scandal and the Petraeus leak are not really alike
Feb. 24, 2016: Many Republicans have argued that the Hillary Clinton case is worse than that of Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director who pleaded guilty last year to mishandling classified information he gave to Paula Broadwell, his mistress and biographer. But there clearly are fundamental differences between the two cases that make it an illogical comparison, based on what we know of the Clinton case so far. At the most basic level, there is dispute over whether Clinton’s emails contained “classified” information. An array of experts we consulted all told us that as long as the dispute exists, it will be difficult to bring the same charge of mishandling classified information to which Petraeus pleaded guilty.
The broad-brushed comparison lacks context and thus earned Two Pinocchios.
What’s perhaps even more astounding than the extent of Clinton’s mis-directions, covering-up and flat out lying may be the fact that despite being thoroughly exposed, millions and millions of Americans still want this dishonest, dishonorable, corrupt politician whose ‘accomplishments’ while in office they can’t begin to name as their President.