Republicans Rely on Truthiness to Attack Clinton

By now you have probably heard that FBI Director Comey released a letter saying that they had found nothing of interest in the new emails they discovered on Anthony Wiener’s computer. Just as I had suspected:

A senior law enforcement official confirmed to NBC News that nearly all of the thousands of newly examined emails on Weiner’s laptop were duplicates of emails already seen by the team investigating Clinton’s server.

In case this happens again, it might be helpful to remember that was the same conclusion they reached the last time they reviewed a new group of emails.

…in a court filing early Wednesday morning, government lawyers said a closer review of the records the FBI located revealed only one of the messages was entirely absent from those produced by previous State Department searches: a flattering note sent by a veteran U.S. diplomat following her testimony on Benghazi before a Senate panel in January 2013.

Given that the election is tomorrow and Clinton is the likely winner, it’s not clear whether this whole mess from the FBI will have any lasting effect on the outcome. But prior to Comey’s announcement yesterday, a McClatchy-Marist poll found that “83 percent of likely voters believe that Clinton did something wrong – 51 percent saying she did something illegal and 32 percent saying she something unethical but not illegal.” That is the damage this whole incident has done.

In talking to Brian Williams Friday about how Fox News had to walk back their claims about an impending indictment of Clinton, Kellyanne Conway did a good job of capturing the goal of all of this for Republicans.

“Well, the damage is done to Hillary Clinton,” Conway replied…

“It [the lack of an indictment] just doesn’t change what’s in voters’ minds right now and you see in the your own polling, you see in the other polling, Brian, which is—even though the polls were tightening before last Friday’s explosive announcement by Mr. Comey you see that voters are putting it in this large cauldron of impressions and images and individuals and issues from which they eventually make a choice.”

While Conway is still framing this in terms of its impact on the election – which her boss is going to lose – the long-term effect of the “large cauldron of impressions and images” about Hillary Clinton that have been created over decades of this kind of thing will remain. In other words, as Stephen Colbert suggested years ago, the Republicans will rely on “truthiness” to discredit Clinton. Here is how Webster defines the term:

…the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.

As we’ve seen, Republicans in Congress are gearing up to exploit the “impressions and images” of Clinton to discredit her if she wins this election. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. But it is important for our media to jettison truthiness and stop the practice of starting with an assumption that Hillary Clinton is corrupt. As many of us have been saying all along, that doesn’t mean that questions should be ignored. They should be addressed AND the facts produced should be shared with the public.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.