Department of Justice emails obtained in a document dump reveal reporters for major U.S. publications privately downplaying a key story in the 2016 election, one that reflected poorly on the Obama-era Department of Justice and the Clinton family.
The American Center for Law and Justice published the emails last week, which were acquired through a Freedom of Information Act Request. The emails center around then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch's meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport last June. As the Washington Examiner's Eddie Scarry reported:
Mark Landler, a reporter for the [New York Times], is seen in one June 30 email reaching out to a DOJ official to say he's "been pressed into service to write about the questions being raised" by the meeting.
Matt Zapotosky with the [Washington Post] emailed a DOJ official the same day after several other emails to say that his editors "are still pretty interested" in the story but that he wanted to "put it to rest."
Former FBI Director James Comey has since divulged the meeting between Clinton and Lynch is what prompted him to publicly confirm his department's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. "That was the thing that capped it for me that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department," Comey explained in June.
"A strange thing is uniting Democrats and Republicans in Washington: the widespread disapproval of a meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona," NPR reported at the time.
Does that sound like a story reporters for the New York Times and Washington Post should feel "pressed into" covering or want to put "to rest"?
Impartial observers, something reporters for these outlets purport to be, would have a hard time denying the importance of this story. Even David Axelrod called Clinton and Lynch's decision to meet "foolish" for creating questionable optics.
After President Trump's inauguration, the Washington Post added a dramatic slogan to the top of its website, reminding readers that "Democracy dies in darkness." Lynch's actions, meeting with the husband of a presidential candidate under FBI investigation in the middle of her campaign to lead the free world, deserved vigorous inquiry from the press.
Instead, their editors had to press them into covering the story at all. Apparently, darkness just didn't seem as lethal to democracy under the administration of a Democratic president.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.