No Chants of ‘Lock Them Up!’

John Dawsey broke this story over the weekend:

Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business.

Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.

It’s not like Kushner is simply taking up space in the White House because he is the president’s son-in-law. In addition to being put in charge of things like reinventing government, solving the opioid epidemic, and reforming the criminal justice system, he has been tasked with sensitive issues like the Middle East peace process and our relationship with China. Dowse reports that there is no indication that Kushner has shared sensitive or classified information related to these tasks over private accounts. But we can’t know that for sure.

Apparently Kushner isn’t the only one.

Ivanka Trump, now an assistant to the president, has an email account on the same domain, they said. POLITICO has not seen Ivanka Trump’s correspondence, and there is no indication that she used her account to discuss government business.

Frankly, none of this is terribly concerning—except that it could violate the Presidential Records Act. But under similar circumstances, Trump ran a campaign based on “Crooked Hillary,” his supporters chanted, “Lock her up” and the media went on a frenzy unlike anything we have ever seen in a presidential campaign. But this news goes by hardly noticed.

We’ve come to expect blatant hypocrisy from this president and it is obvious that his supporters will give him a pass on whatever this administration does. But remember what the New York Times did with the Clinton email story?

This one barely got a ho-hum from that publication. Of course, even if there was something nefarious to this story, it would be incredibly small potatoes compared to all of the other charges that are being levied against this administration. That is why I think that Perry Bacon absolutely nailed what went wrong with the media’s coverage of the 2016 election.

…my suspicion is that a lot of the bad coverage came from a desire to find a way to balance the sharp coverage of Trump with coverage that was negative about Clinton. The both-sides model of political journalism left you with 15 Trump scandals and 1 Clinton scandal, so you have to pump up the Clinton scandal/controversy/whatever to make up for that big gap since all of these outlets are obsessed with attacks from the right.

In other words, it was their allegiance to bothsiderism that caused the media to turn a mole hill into a mountain when it came to their coverage of Clinton’s emails. They have now returned to treating private email accounts as if they were mole hills, which might be the appropriate perspective. But many of us would at least like to hear a bit of a mea culpa on how they blew this one during the campaign—if for no other reason than that it is way past time to put bothersiderism out to pasture.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.