AP Tells A Dubious Story About Clinton's State Department Calendar Entries
Credit: McClatchy
June 26, 2016

It's not enough to imagine conspiracies about Clinton's emails and email server, now the AP is attempting to generate controversy about her calendar.

An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as secretary of state identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded or omitted the names of those she met.

So that's 75 whole meetings. Sounds terrible doesn't it? Especially in how the AP presented the information.

Let's take a moment to do some math. Let's assume that for the most part, when Clinton was in the States, she probably had 8-10 meetings a day during the week. That's, on average, 45-50 a week. Now, she did go to a lot of countries, so let's say she was gone 50% of the time. That leaves us, then, with about two years worth of weeks like this, give or take some for vacation, events like the death of Osama bin Laden, that sort of thing.

That gives us about 100 weeks of "normal" working days. Which then gives us about 4000 to 5000 meetings, total.

Now, let's factor this 75 meetings into the whole. If we use the 4000 meeting figure, the meetings with Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests factors out to about 1.8% of all the meetings. And that's making a lot of assumptions on the low side.

Now, let's take a closer look at the meetings.

The missing or heavily edited entries in Clinton's calendar also omitted private dinners with political donors, policy sessions with groups of corporate leaders and "drop-bys" with old Clinton campaign hands. Among those whose names were omitted from her calendar were longtime adviser Sidney Blumenthal, lobbyist and former Clinton White House chief of staff Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Clinton campaign bundler Haim Saban.

These are all old acquaintances of the Clintons and included meetings where people dropped by, or Secretary Clinton had dinner with the folks.

One person mentioned is Sidney Blumenthal. We know from the Clinton emails that the two are very close friends, who have a lot of respect for each other. We also know that Sidney Blumenthal has a lot of contacts in the world and a lot of information which he shared with Clinton. Point of fact, several of the Clinton emails that were later deemed to have classified information, were emails Blumenthal sent to Clinton with data he had discovered.

Whether you like Blumenthal or not, can we not assume that a Secretary of State can have a meeting, or lunch, or get together, with a close family friend who also happens to have channels of potentially interesting or relevant information? Or do we want our Secretaries of State to close off all potential sources of information? You know, for purity's sake?

My favorite part of the AP story is this:

In one key omission, Clinton's State Department calendar dropped the identities of a dozen major Wall Street and business leaders who met with her during a private breakfast discussion at the New York Stock Exchange in September 2009, The meeting occurred minutes before Clinton appeared in public at the exchange to ring the market's ceremonial opening bell.

Secretary Clinton was scheduled to ring the Market's opening bell and had breakfast with people first. We assume her calendar just stated "Market, Opening Bell, Breakfast". That's what my calendar would say. That her calendar didn't list out all of the people who were at that breakfast, was somehow wrong, or suspicious or...exactly what are you implying, Mr. Stephen Braun, from the AP?

As an aside, Mr. Braun has had an interesting tenure at the AP. As far as I can determine, the only subject he's covered is "conspiracies" related to Clinton. While there's nothing wrong with having such a single focus, we have to wonder how much such a focus can impact on one's perception.

For instance, that Wall Street breakfast and bell ringing. If you look more closely at the calendar entry, the time allotted was from 8:25AM to 9:45AM. That's one hour and 20 minutes. Except that Clinton had to be on the Floor at 9:30 to ring the bell. So she had about 45 minutes for a cup of coffee and some hellos and how-are-yous before heading out to ring the bell.

What does Mr. Braun think could possibly happen in that short period of time that not having the names of the individuals who attended the breakfast is somehow...exactly what are you implying Mr. Braun?

That's the thing with Mr. Braun's writings...he hints, he raises his eyebrow, he drops in a small piece of information, and you can almost see the wink he gives when he does.

If the other various Clinton email conspiracies had baby teeth, this calendar story is completely toothless. We could further prove this, if the AP were to actually provide access to the documents it received from State, but the AP did not. All it provided was a snapshot of the Wall Street breakfast, and a list of names.

In addition, from a neutral journalistic perspective, it would be helpful to compare Secretary Clinton's calendar with the calendar of Secretary Kerry, Secretary Rice, or Secretary Powell, to determine whether there are any significant differences, but the AP wasn't interested in any of those calendars. No, it only wanted Secretary Clinton's.

Bottom line, what the AP has given us is a lot of supposition, innuendo, few verifiable facts, no access to the raw data, and no comparison with other office holders, so we can determine if Secretary's Clinton's actions were outside the norm or not.

Just another attempt to create controversy where none exists. It's just disappointing to see this one come from the AP.

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