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Michael Calderone on Hillary’s Presser

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Michael Calderone is the senior media writer for The Huffington Post.  he joined me at the start of hour two of today’s show to discuss Hillary’s presser:




HH: I’m very pleased to welcome for the first time Michael Calderone from the Huffington Post where is the senior media reporter. Michael, welcome, it’s great to have you on the program.

MC: It’s great to be here. Thanks.

HH: Now the reason this meeting is occurring, America, is because Michael wants to do a profile of me. And I always have two rules. I don’t talk about my family, and I always interview the interviewee first. And so Michael, you’d already figured that out, because you read the Nick Lemann piece from years ago in the New Yorker.

MC: I did. I did. I was expecting this, although I think you went to Columbia J School after his profile, is that right?

HH: That’s true. It was mutual assured destruction, though. We both published after both sets of interviews were done. So it was, he’s a wonderful gentleman. I don’t know if you know Nick. He’s a terrific reporter.

MC: I thought it was a really great piece, and I don’t think I’m going to write as long a piece as that one, though, so don’t worry about it.

HH: But I’ve actually lucked into having you talking to me today…

MC: Yeah.

HH: …because this is an extraordinary day in American media. How do you grade the press at Hillary’s presser?

MC: How do I grade the press? And since that is my beat, you know, I mean, I think the press didn’t get a full opportunity to really ask all the questions. I mean, we got maybe 15 minutes of questions total, and as you could see, and I’m sure your Twitter feed as well as mine, I mean, most reporters feel like that that was just not enough. And some of Hillary Clinton’s answers, too, already are not, you know, being challenged and coming under scrutiny. You know, the whole thing about not carrying two devices she’s saying is a reason for not setting up a State Department email, you know, other things about that she was emailing Bill Clinton. Apparently, he doesn’t email. So I mean, my Twitter feed right now with journalist is just non-stop fact-checking right now, and then we’ll see if there’s another opportunity to really press her on all these things and maybe even the bigger issue about foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation.

HH: Now Michael, I just got done talking with Mike Huckabee.

MC: Yup.

HH: And he says Hillary is “truth-challenged.” Do you think she was lying today?

MC: Well, I don’t know if I’d say she was lying, but I think, like I said, there are immediate questions that came up. When she said her reason for doing this was she doesn’t want to carry two devices, immediately she said in an interview a couple of weeks ago when asked what she uses for a phone, she said I use an iPhone and a Blackberry. There’s an interview with her in 2011 where she was talking about in her purse she has a Blackberry, she has an iPad. So I mean the whole idea of, if that was the only reason that she didn’t do it, I mean, I think it raises even more questions for her. I don’t want to say truth-challenged, but I think there’s a lot of questions still to ask to her.

HH: The one statement that stands out at me is that there were no security breaches, she flatly declared. She is not in a position to say that. And I’d point everyone to Stuxnet, right? We penetrated the Iranian system. We didn’t tell them we had done that. No one’s going to send her a postcard telling her they’d penetrated her system. And in fact, the Sidney Blumenthal emails are evidence that she was hacked, correct?

MC: Yeah, I mean, she was hacked. And two years ago in March of 2013, right after she left the State Department, you know, Gawker tried to get these emails, and they had her correct personal email address, and the State Department said they didn’t have any of the emails. So you know, it’s been known for a couple of years now that she was hacked, and what her personal email address was. And because she never turned over the emails, and because they didn’t have them, because they weren’t on a State Department server, the State Department has never been able to fulfill any of these FOIA requests.

HH: So when she says flatly there were no security breaches, that is not true. I mean, that is a matter of record. There were security breaches. So I don’t know how she comes out of this thing non-wounded. And now it goes to the level of political damage, especially when you’ve got Ron Fournier and Ryan Lizza and many people who are not of my party and my conservative bent are absolutely slashing and burning on Twitter. Do you think it’s a potentially campaign derailing moment?

MC: Well, I mean, you hit on something here, because in some ways, it’s an issue that journalists are especially interested in, which is transparency and you know, the American public, I think, as you just said, the State Department isn’t fulfilling FOIA requests, you know, that may not be something that gets a ton of people animated. But it gets reporters animated, and they stay on this story. And I think they’re going to keep on this. And like I said, I think the two stories are sort of intertwined, both the emails and the foreign donations story have sort of come together. And that’s the side of this that really hasn’t even been pressed here. I think somebody, maybe it was Andrea Mitchell or somebody had a question in today’s press conference, but it kind of went by very quickly. So you know, I mean, I think reporters are still going to be jumping on this story.

HH: Have you asked your colleague, yet, Jay Rosen’s an old friend of the show, been on a few times, and a man of the left, but a very, very serious watcher of all things media. Can she maintain no, I’m not going to give you the server? I tweeted out today doom to those who approach the server, Mordor has spoken, that they’re not allowed to get near the server. But is that tenable? It’s like Nixon and the tapes. First he tried to give them to Stennis, and then that got laughed off, and then he tried to resist the subpoena, and then finally the Supreme Court made him turn it over, because it was vital to the national security, and to criminal prosecution. Can she build a wall around that server?

MC: I mean, that’s a great question. It’s a legal question, and I honestly am not 100% sure on. You know, she’s saying that she deleted her personal emails, so why did she delete all her personal emails? And the obvious question is, you know, basically we’re leaving it up to her and her staff to determine what should go to the State Department and what should go, what she is free to delete. And you know, as Ron Fournier, who you mentioned, has said over and over again, you know, these aren’t her emails to begin with. Her email that she’s using, this is in the public domain. And so they should all be on State Department servers, and then the State Department will make that determination based upon requests, Benghazi investigation or reporters trying to get emails, things like that. So I mean, it all comes back to the idea that these, you know, these questions really shouldn’t have been there for her and her staff to answer alone, because everybody else in the State Department is using a State Department email.

HH: All right, now I want to kind of wrap up by going to the level of expectation vis-à-vis Republicans and Democrats. Her first question, I just want to play the first question that was asked her, she went to the U.N Turkish reporter. Play cut number six:

Reporter: Did you opt out using two devices at the time, obviously, if this didn’t come out, you wouldn’t, it probably wouldn’t become an issue. And my second follow up question is if you were a man today, would all this fuss being made, be made?

HH: Now okay, so we’ve got to wonder whether or not that was planted. And it’s so obvious a ruse, Michael. Does everyone just sort of laugh at her?

MC: Okay, I mean, the second part of that question was ridiculous, but I actually can answer about why that Turkish reporter asked the first question. Apparently, and I just learned this today, there’s a protocol at U.N. press conferences where the head of the U.N. correspondents gets the first question. And the head of the U.N. correspondents is an Italian journalist who’s out of the country. And so the next guy in line was this Turkish reporter. So that’s why he got the question. Why he asked about, you know, whether this would have happened if she was a man, I mean, I have no idea, and you know, I don’t think, no other reporters who were called on asked anything like that.

HH: All right, so then my question becomes that’s an explanation. Is she going to be held to the same standard that a George W. Bush or a Condoleezza Rice, or a Colin Powell was held? This is a matter of national security. What happened to her emails and who they were monitored by, and whether she was hacked, and how people anticipated our diplomatic moves and our wartime moves, these are all national security issues of the first import. Will she be held to the same standard, Michael Calderone, going forward, do you think?

MC: By the press? I think so. And you know, I know there are some conservatives who will say okay, the press is pounding on her right now, but you know, eventually they’re going to move onto the next pseudo Republican scandal or actual Republican scandal and kind of jump off this. You know, I hope that at least we get some better answers, more than the kind of 15 minutes that we got today.

HH: Fascinating. All right, last question for you, related to me.

MC: Yeah.

HH: Why do you want to do a profile on me? I’m just going to ask one or two questions at a presidential debate?

MC: You know, I want to know kind of what you see as your role in 2016. I’ve listened to a lot of your interviews with would-be Republican candidates, want to know kind of what you think are the questions and the issues that candidates should be facing, what they should be responding to. And you know, a big issue with me is you know, how are candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, how are they actually vetted in this whole process? I mean, it’s a crazy process, and as we know, a lot of crazy questions get asked.

HH: That’s interesting. That’s interesting.

MC: And so I want to know kind of where you see yourself in vetting these people. I know foreign policy is a big thing for you.

HH: As is education.

MC: …and evolution isn’t.

HH: Yesterday, I had Rick Santorum on yesterday, and I asked him if he’d read Robert Putnam’s new book, Our Kids, because I had Robert Putnam on yesterday. I think that’s a kind of a good question. If you’ve got what the Sunday Times calls the world’s most influential academic out with a new book on kids and the opportunity gap in America, I expect presidential candidates to read that book, don’t you?

MC: I think it would be great if they read that book, you know, although I don’t want to criticize Santorum, because I haven’t read the book myself.

HH: Oh, no, he’s read Putnam’s Bowling Alone, and he’s going to read Our Kids. And Santorum is actually very studious about this stuff and said he was going to read it, was looking forward to it. His book just dropped today, so it wasn’t possible to actually have read it unless you’re in my business or your business. But that’ll be interesting when we talk off air, Michael, and I look forward to having you back on the show again soon. Thanks for joining me today.

MC: I look forward to it, too, and I was really happy to do this on a good, busy media news day.

HH: And especially on a good, busy, media news day.

End of interview.


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