Flashback: Rove Erases 22 Million White House Emails on Private Server at Height of U.S. Attorney Scandal – Media Yawns

Clerk Note: Oh the hypocrisy of it all. "Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex."~Frank Zappa


Flashback: Rove Erases 22 Million White House Emails on Private Server at Height of U.S. Attorney Scandal – Media Yawns


By: Jon Ponder
Date: 2015-03-18

Now that they’ve taken control of Congress, Republicans are wielding power much the same way they did in the Clinton era and for the six years afterward when they controlled the White House and Congress under George W. Bush: ineptly — examples: 1, 2 etc.

Then as now, it’s clear that the only thing Republicans do very well is inflame the media with bogus scandals — which is a handy way to distract attention from their ineptitude. They are doing this with their usual aplomb, and considerable success, in the matter of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to send emails.

Clinton has said she deleted about 50,000 emails that dealt with personal matters, citing her daughter’s wedding and her mother’s funeral as examples. All the correspondence pertaining to official business was turned over to and archived by State. The deletion of the emails, though perfectly legal, has excited House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, who has announced plans to deploy House committees to investigate what might aptly be called Servergate.

Never mind that former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, has said he used a system similar to Clinton’s — and never mind that in 2007 Karl Rove deleted 22 million emails from a private server in the Bush White House — a matter about which the Beltway media said little and Republicans in Congress, like Rep. John Boehner, said nothing.

Here is a brief refresher on the White House email scandal:

Not long after George W. Bush assumed the presidency in 2001, Rove, his top political aide, set up a private email server for use in the White House. The stated purpose of the system — the primary domain name on which was gwb43.com — was that it would be used exclusively for the sort of political correspondence that Bush and Rove were not permitted to do on the taxpayer’s dime.

Seven years later, Bush and Rove were embroiled in two competing scandals — the Valerie Plame scandal, in which operatives for Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, including Rove and Scooter Libby, were accused of unmasking Valerie Plame, a CIA specialist in the black market for weapons of mass destruction, for purely partisan reasons, and the U.S. Attorney purge, in which Rove’s political operation in the White House was accused of ordering Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to purge eight U.S. attorneys who were qualified prosecutors and replace them with political hacks with little or no prosecutorial experience.

Rove escaped prosecution in the Libby case, but Libby was convicted (Bush quickly commuted the sentence) on March 6, 2007, at the same time Bush and Rove were under fire for purging the U.S. attorneys. During the investigation, it came to light that Rove’s server had been used to send official, non-political emails — correspondence that was required by law to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act.

On April 12, 2007, Rove’s operation admitted that it had deleted at least 5 million emails from the server. In December 2009, technicians who had examined the server reported that the number of emails that had been deleted was far greater — 22 million.

What was in the emails? No one will ever know. It’s likely as not that there was incriminating evidence in the correspondence that tied Rove and others to the treasonous exposure of Agent Plame (which, at a minimum, was a violation of government security), the U.S. attorneys’ purge and perhaps other scandals, including the inquiry into charges that Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff had used his entre with others in the GOP to bribe government officials. Abramoff was in prison serving the first year of his sentence when the email scandal broke.

If nothing else, this appears to be a prima facie case (or, rather, 22 million cases) of obstruction of justice. How serious is obstruction of justice? It’s the crime Pres. Richard Nixon was charged with by the House of Representatives in 1974 that prompted him to resign rather than face impeachment.

But what sort of evidence might have been lost in the 50,000 emails Hillary Clinton deleted? The insinuation from Republicans is that something dispositive about the Benghazi scandal might have been erased. It’s hard to guess what that might have been. What the GOP seems to be looking for in its eight investigations into Benghazi, so far, is a stand-down order issued by the State Department or the White House to the military that left the Benghazi consulate vulnerable to the attack that ensued. These Republicans know, of course, that the Secretary of State doesn’t have the authority to issue orders to the military.

Given that, there’s no question that the coverage of the Clinton email “scandal” is out of scale, but how does the incessant media coverage today stack up against the scandal seven years ago when Rove’s political operation in the White House erased 22 million emails many of which likely included evidence of serious crimes?

Last week, the fact-checking organization Politifact, which tends to skew to the right, compared coverage of the two scandals. Here’s it’s verdict:

We did a search through Lexis-Nexis, a research service that tracks news articles and transcripts, between March and May 2007. We found more than 125 transcripts from the major cable networks and National Public Radio that include “Republican National Committee” and “email” within 10 words of each other.

The Lexis-Nexis search also yielded more than 200 related newspaper articles across the country within the same time frame.

Let’s compare that to coverage of the Clinton controversy.

Since the story broke March 3, 2015 — two weeks ago — we found 204 cable and public radio transcripts that include “Clinton” and “email.” We also found 1,700 newspaper articles across the country.

That’s several times as many articles and transcripts about Clinton than there were about the Bush email controversy in a quarter of the time. It’s a rough measurement, but clearly there has been more media attention on Clinton’s use of private email than that of the White House staffers.

Even so, Politifact rated the claim that coverage of Clinton’s email deletions is out of scale compared with coverage of Rove’s in 2007 is “mostly false.”

Wait. What?

In the Rove scandal, there were 125 broadcast reports and 200 newspaper articles over three months about the millions of deleted emails. Today, in just two weeks there have been 200 broadcast reports and 1,700 newspaper articles about the 50,000 deleted emails.

And yet Politifact finds the assertion that there’s been more coverage of Clinton than there was of Rove to be “mostly false.” How did they do that?

Simple. Politifact keyed its verdict to a Fox pundit’s hyperbolic statement there was “zero coverage” of Rove’s scandal when it broke. So, yeah, it’s “mostly false” that there was “zero coverage.”

Republicans’ objective in using its lapdogs in the “liberal media” to exaggerate the Clinton emails controversy is to damage her image in advance of her run for the presidency. Polls show that their strategy is working — while Hillary Clinton remains the odds-on favorite among Democratic voters, her approval rating has slipped among all voters in polls released since the email deletions came to light.

At least Republicans are good at something.

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