UPDATE: The number of emails in question, three, was reported by NBC News. Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald is walking back his earlier tweet. This article has been amended accordingly.
Once again, the online political press has completely flummoxed an otherwise innocuous news story, injecting false information and hyperbolic innuendo into the discourse. And, shocker, it happens to be a breaking news story about Hillary Clinton’s emails, offering the Trump campaign and the GOP plenty of latitude to repeat false information with impunity. After all, and as we’ve been covering here at The Daily Banter for several years now, a lie can travel around the world before the truth gets its pants on. Like clockwork, it happened again.
On Friday, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress informing leadership that the bureau discovered additional emails related to Hillary’s correspondence at the State Department.
Stop the presses!
NBC News initially posted a story with this framing, later changing the headline and ledeto drop the claim. USA Today tweeted, falsely, that the FBI director had said the probe was being reopened. The Hill and Bloomberg also got the facts wrong.
Here’s the full text of the letter. Tell me where it says anything about reopening the case.
In previous congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton?s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.
In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.
Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant. and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.
Even if reporters had simply skimmed the letter, they would’ve understood that the additional emails are “pertinent to” an “unrelated case” and that investigators would be apparently reviewing the emails in the context of this other case.
It turns out the unrelated case is the bureau’s probe into the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal.
In addition to more than a few headline writers with poor reading comprehension skills, Trump himself ballyhooed the news, suggesting that perhaps the system isn’t as rigged as he thought, “It might not be be as rigged as I thought, right? Right?”
It’s a brave concession by the GOP nominee who’s turned whining into political performance art. Trump’s crybaby attitude in which anything that isn’t pro-Trump is clearly rigged against him has become Trump’s predictably obnoxious closing statement, capping his 17 month campaign for president on a whimpering, Charlie Cheswick note.
Trump added that the news is “bigger than Watergate.” Yes, that’s right. More emails that are related to Anthony Weiner’s dick pics are somehow “bigger than Watergate.” This is the kind of gibberish that spreads virally by the Deplorables, while the truth gets fumbled after the fact.
It turns out Sen. Jason Chaffetz (R-NV) started the avalanche among the Republicans. You also might recall how, earlier this week, Chaffetz flip-flopped on his endorsement of Trump, now pledging to vote for the nominee.
FBI Dir just informed me, "The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation." Case reopened
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) October 28, 2016
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, meanwhile, issued a press release condemning Hillary Clinton and amplifying the bogus hysteria surrounding the news.
BREAKING NEWS → The FBI is reopening its investigation into Secretary Hillary Clinton.
My full statement ⇩ pic.twitter.com/LHfyg46dWk
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) October 28, 2016
Whether or not this impacts the polls through the final 11 days of the election remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it did, given the complete untethering of the GOP from reality and the facts of what the FBI announced. Nevertheless, here we are again with another news story that’s demonstrably false rocket-boosting its way through social media, while the reporters who are bound to truth struggle to correct the record in the face of the viral machine.
This has to be fixed. As President Obama noted recently, there has to be a curation of the facts in order to reintroduce reality into the debate.