It was easy to deduce from the whines of Hillary Clinton's supporters which candidate had underperformed worst in Wednesday night's MSNBC Commander-in-Chief veterans' forum.
Likewise, the Clinton campaign's abrupt decision Thursday to hold her first press conference in nine months (short and inadequate though it was) spoke to a mild desperation, a need to get the media covering something other than her performance the night before.
The worst moment at the forum for Clinton came when a veteran who had held a job that involved handling classified information asked a question. The man began by noting that if he had passed classified information through email, "I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned." He went on: "Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who were and are trusted with America's most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?"
It was a loaded question, but a relevant and justified one, given the candidate's unprecedented carelessness with classified information while serving in President Obama's cabinet.
And the subject matter itself amply rebuts all Democratic objections about bias in the questioning and the format chosen by a left-leaning cable news network. If you didn't want the Democratic nominee skewered and pressed on such questions as this, you shouldn't have nominated someone who probably belongs in jail.
Yes, you read that correctly. Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby are among the many Americans who have served prison time for merely lying to federal investigators while not under oath. For those whose last name is not Clinton, this is how the feds typically handle the targets of their investigations.
That Clinton also lied to the FBI under similar circumstances is an unavoidable conclusion after last week's release of the FBI's report on its interview with her. Unless you believe Clinton literally knew nothing about classified information after serving for four years as the nation's top diplomat, or that she is not intelligent enough to understand the concept of keeping secret certain sensitive information (for example, future drone strikes in Pakistan), the conclusion that she both lied and created a false impression of abject ignorance throughout her interview is impossible to avoid.
Were she running against any normal opposition candidate, the pundits would likely be writing off her candidacy because of that revelation alone. Democrats, jubilant that she is running against Donald Trump, seem to have forgotten that their own nominee carries enough baggage that it's amazing her new campaign plane can take off. Trump is getting better at campaigning, and Clinton's baggage isn't going away.
In the latest CNN poll, only 35 percent of respondents said Clinton is more honest than the Trump. Fifty percent believed Trump to be more honest than she is, and this number includes 28 percent of Clinton's own supporters.
In absolute terms, a mid-August NBC poll found that only 11 percent believe Clinton to be honest and trustworthy. That finding echoes the 59 percent who described her as dishonest in the USA Today/Suffolk poll released earlier this month.
So when Paul Krugman and other Democratic partisans chide the media for its negative reporting on Clinton, they are asking the free press to pretend the reality that voters see is somehow imaginary. Clinton has done everything to earn the negative coverage she is now getting.