How The Right-Wing Echo Chamber Spins Bullsh*t Into Fact

How The Right-Wing Echo Chamber Spins Bullsh*t Into Fact

Shelley Powers noticed that a story circulating in the right-wing echo chamber suggests that Hillary Clinton's email cache included one from April 1, 2002 which was declassified on April 1, 2012 and published to the State Department's FOIA website in 2014.

The right-wing echo chamber pounced on it.

I noticed a story claiming to be about a "smoking gun" proving that Hilary Clinton knew she had top secret information on her server. They got the information from a Daily Mail story. The story has since been picked up by Newsmax, the Telegraph, the BBC, and many other publications too numerous to list.

There's only one problem, and it starts over at the Daily Mail. In their article, they write:

The documents, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, are part of a batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton which U.S. courts have forced her to reveal.

Oooh, how investigative of them. Shelley further pointed out that the email they refer to could be discovered easily enough with a simple search at the Department of State FOIA reading room site.

It's easy. Really. I just duplicated Shelley's result when I took the case number from the document published at the Daily Mail, and searched it. Anyone can do it. This is the result:

If one wants to do a search on the very same website for the Hillary Clinton Email tranche to see if the same result appears in there, all you have to do is a second search that has two search terms: Clinton_Email AND F-2012-33239. You will first discover that there are no specific results, but if you really want to be certain the email was not in there, simply sort the search by date.

See how that works? There's not even one email with that date on it in the Clinton email.


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The Judicial Watch/Hillary Clinton FOIA case number request is F-2014-20439. The other case number refers to something else entirely, as Shelley explains:

The request was initiated by a Philip Sherwell, in August of 2012, and the request was for "references concerning a meeting Saturday April 6, 2002 in Crawford, TX between George W Bush and Tony Blair."

Here's a screen capture of the official FOIA listing from the U.S. Department of State, page 249:

Finally, note the dates. The FOIA request was made before the tragedy in Benghazi even happened. It was released and published on the Department of State website well before the first tranche of Clinton emails was published in response to Judicial Watch's FOIA request.

In fact, the Daily Mail story is one that broke in 2006, as Shelley also notes. It took her five minutes to fact-check and debunk this silly story, but it will likely take MONTHS before right-wing liars like Newsmax and Drudge, much less the BBC, correct the record. By then, it will be engraved on two tiny little neurons owned by right-wing BSers.

(Note: I have sent an email to the original FOIA requester, Philip Sherwell, who is now a reporter for the Telegraph. If he responds with information which is relevant I will include it in an update.)

So. Here is the formula.

  1. Take one line from an unrelated story from the Daily Mail claiming said "classified" email was really from the Hillary collection at the U.S. Department of State.
  2. Let a few hack bloggers and lazy reporters pick up on the phrase "Hillary Clinton emails"
  3. Do absolutely no critical thinking or fact-checking
  4. Publish it and echo it throughout the lying right-wing chamber until mainstream media outlets pick it up.

The article on the ironically-titled American Thinker blog makes this claim:

This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that, as my friend Mike Nadler says, “she lied in her numerous statements that there were no classified documents on her server, even with her later qualification that none were marked classified at the time."

No, actually what it proves is that there is no speck of bullshit too small for a winger to scoop it up into a little pile and then throw at the Internet to see where it splats.

If you want to make some noise, I suggest you tweet the Daily Mail and demand that they immediately correct their article to remove all references to Hillary Clinton's email server.

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