In the wake of Friday’s ‘Big Broohaha’ over James Comey’s infamous letter, a number of people are left with a huge amount of egg on their faces. I hope the chickens have been laying lots of eggs, else there may not be enough to go around!
Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee who has already vowed to spend the next several years investigating Clinton should she be elected president, quickly rushed to announce the news, falsely claiming that the case had been “re-opened.”
Minutes later, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan repeated Chaffetz’s incorrect assessment and demanded that Clinton’s classified intelligence briefings — something provided to both major party nominees — be ceased:
In a rally in New Hampshire, an almost-giddy Donald Trump told supporters, “The FBI has just sent a letter to Congress informing them that they have discovered new emails pertaining to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s investigation and they are reopening into the case into her criminal and illegal conduct.”
Other Republicans in Congress were quick to make the same false claims:
- Republican Representative Blake Farenthold: “BREAKING: FBI Director just told members that the FBI is reopening the Clinton investigation b/c of new emails.”
- Republican Representative Tom Price: “BREAKING: FBI reopens Clinton email server investigation. Read my response HERE: → link
- Republican Representative Buddy Carter: “The FBI has reopened its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server”
Though nothing in Comey’s letter said the case was being reopened, an array of news outlets repeated Chaffetz’ incorrect characterization. NBC News initially posted a story with this framing, later changing the headline and lede to drop the claim. USA Today tweeted, falsely, that the FBI director had said the probe was being reopened. The Hill and Bloomberg also got the facts wrong.
Remember that child’s game called the Telephone Game? One child whispers something to the next, then that child passes it along to the next, and so on. When it gets to the last child, he or she says the phrase and everybody has a good laugh at how much it has changed from the original. Fun for a child’s game, maybe, but not so much fun when it impacts millions of lives, as the careless, malicious, irresponsible messages by House Representatives and the media alike did last Friday.
I believe that disciplinary action for all those who acted irresponsibly in this incident should be immediate. Starting with James Comey. While I have heard some call for “Congress to impeach” Comey, that is not the correct procedure. President Obama has the power to terminate Comey’s employment, and I would call on the president to do so immediately, however that would merely open the floodgate for Republicans to cry “foul”. He could, however, request Mr. Comey’s resignation, and I hope that he will do so. As for the Congressmen involved, each one is on the ballot in their home states on November 8th. I call for voters to vote them out of office, for not a single one of those who perpetuated this falsity has the intellect nor the temperament to serve in such a high office within our government.
The press, appropriately, cannot be sanctioned by the government. This is as it should be. However, in this situation, I believe those news agencies that ran with the story based on the Republicans’ spin rather than first looking into the facts, should be held accountable. Their disciplinary action is in our hands … yours, mine, every viewer or reader … and our power is enormous if we use it wisely. Politico, Fox News, NPR, USA Today, and all three cable news networks have covered the story non-stop since it broke, often adopting the “re-opening” framing and suggesting the news is a major election bombshell. The only possible means of holding the press accountable is to hit them where it hurts: their profits.
I am disappointed in so many from Comey to certain House members to the media, as well as the public themselves. This was the fiasco that never should have been, and We The People are paying the price. Unfortunately, this puts an additional wedge in the divisiveness that has already done so much damage over the past 15 months, the results of which are scars that may never fully heal.
If this entire fiasco was an attempt to throw the election to Trump, I seriously doubt it will see success. Hillary Clinton, despite dropping poll numbers, continues to have the straightest path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. After 15 months of listening to the rhetoric, researching the candidates and their ideologies, thoughtful voters will have already made their decision and are not likely to be swayed by yet another non-scandal. Those who, after 15 months, are still undecided, are in the minority, although they make the loudest noises of any. In the end, all the bombast will likely have been for naught, and many will slink away with their tails between their legs and a great deal of egg on their faces.