OPINION: The Media Goes Mad Over Ivanka Emails


Diana Banister President and Managing Partner, Shirley & Banister Public Affairs
Font Size:

“While her messages were largely about government work, [Ivanka] Trump was not then subject to White House records rules.”

This little paragraph buried in the sixth column of The Washington Post’s breaking news story on the first daughter’s emails seems to have escaped the media’s attention. The Washington scandal machine is in full gear.

How could she not know the rules? Surely, her father’s relentless attacks on Hillary Clinton during the campaign should have been a lesson. Oh, the hypocrisy.

The media, who refused to attribute blame to 2016 presidential candidate Clinton, finds this a bridge too far. While transitioning and on her way to joining the White House as an unpaid senior adviser, Ms. Trump used her personal email to do some White House business.

Hate to point out the obvious, but Hillary Clinton had spent eight years as first lady of the United States, served as a United States senator for eight years and was the U.S. Secretary of State for four. In all those positions, she handled classified information, and as Secretary of State had surely understood the danger of setting up a private server in her house to conduct the country’s business.

Ms. Trump has never worked in government, she had not yet been briefed on ethics rules and was not subject to the records rules when she sent these emails. She has fully complied with the review, unlike Mrs. Clinton, who destroyed the emails and tried to keep the information from Congress.

The two cases are apples and oranges, but that does not stop the media from running their mouths.

“What started as a noble cause has turned into a scandal machine,” said long-time Newsweek editor Evan Thomas in the CNN documentary “The Nineties.” He was talking about cable news, bemoaning that fact that it was no longer interested in news but in covering scandal.

The cable networks that may have once covered world events has succumbed to the reality television culture that is satisfied with not reporting on news but making news about themselves and thriving on the salacious and the scandalous.

PBS’ Judy Woodruff added in the same documentary that “unfortunately, with cable news you have the ability, or the need to be on the air 24-7 where you are trying to get as many eyeballs as possible at one time to gravitate toward those stories that are sensational, it brought us the ability to go too far.”

Most Americans believe the media has gone too far and obsessed with finding fault with this administration.

According to a 2016 Gallup study, “Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history.” A dramatic drop from previous years with 68 percent saying they have little or no trust in the media at all.

What’s more, the American people are worn out by the constant bickering and confrontations they see on television cable news networks.  Is there any knowledge to be gained when the formulaic “Republican strategist” debates the “Democratic strategist” and the barbs and talking points fly with a passion?

Sadly, this is what the media in the U.S. considers news.

It’s not simply that reporters have a visceral reaction to anything the president does, it is that they are aggressively looking for any hint of scandal or controversy.  They look for a motive that fits their storyline and are more than happy to spend hours on cable shows “analyzing” what he has said or tweeted.

Even more troubling is the fact that Americans are not actually getting any real news.

Any given day there is a myriad of natural disasters, a bombing in Afghanistan that has killed 43 people today, the starving people in Yemen in a terrible war, genocide against religious minorities in Burma. Little coverage was paid to the vice president’s recent trip to Asia or Secretary Mike Pompeo’s negotiations with North Korea. These are stories the majority of Americans will never know.

What we do know is that this, like so many other stories the media drives into the ground, is not news. It is a “scandal machine.”

Diana Banister is president and managing partner of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.