The death of dogged journalism has been greatly exaggerated, or so it would seem if you follow CNN correspondent Jake Tapper. Tapper’s recent epic interview with presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump featured him asking no less than 23 times whether the candidate’s comments about a federal judge were racist, and was hailed as a brutal takedown of a reckless boor.
Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has faced nowhere near the same level of journalistic interrogation. Whether that is the result of her very controlled media interactions, the disturbing ease with which journalists breezily accept her non-answers, or simply a reflection of the inherently combustible nature of Trump is for others to decide.
Let’s imagine—however—a world where one lucky journalist has 23 consecutive attempts to ask Secretary Clinton a single question about her private e-mail server. While we are in this fantasy world let’s also assume that the journalist has the same tenacious style as CNN’s Tapper, and thus filibusters or non-answers would only be followed by the same question being asked again.
Using those parameters here are some suggested questions for the bravest journalist on the planet, all focused on Clinton’s curious e-mail practices while Secretary of State:
1) “You have apologized for your use of a private e-mail server while serving as Secretary of State, and that your actions were a ‘mistake.’ What exactly is the mistake that are you referring to, and why do you think it merits an apology?”
2) “While serving as Secretary of State you were specifically and directly warned by Diplomatic Security officials that the use of personal e-mail for official purposes posed an unacceptable security risk and should not be allowed. Yet you continued to do just that for two years after the warning was sent to you. Why?”
3) “At approximately the same time, the same Diplomatic Security office advised you that security measures for US personnel in Libya were adequate. And in testimony before Congress, you said you would not second-guess the advice of DS security experts as they were the ones with the appropriate experience to make such recommendations. Can you explain your thinking in flatly rejecting their e-mail security warnings while unquestioningly accepting their physical security recommendations?”
4) “In June 2011 you spoke out on the record against alleged Chinese government’s hacking of private e-mail accounts, including the personal e-mail account of a current cabinet secretary. Did this raise any sort of concern in your mind about your use of a personal e-mail system as the sole means of conducting official government business?”
5) “It is known that several of your top aides also had e-mail accounts on your private e-mail server. Can you state for certain that you only e-mailed them on those accounts regarding personal matters such as your yoga routine or your daughter’s wedding?”
6) “During your tenure as Secretary of State, it was well known by information security experts that personal e-mail accounts were especially vulnerable to surreptitious monitoring and penetration by foreign intelligence agencies when traveling overseas. Did you ever take those threats into account while using your personal e-mail system during your visits to over 100 different countries?”
7) “At times, e-mails from your personal account were directed into State Department ‘spam’ folders. Did you or any of your advisors ever view that as an indicator that your personal e-mail server was somehow inherently less secure than using an official government e-mail account?”
8) “Records demonstrate that your server was struck by cyber-attacks on more than one occasion. You yourself have said that the server was on grounds protected by the U.S. Secret Service. Did you ever notify the Secret Service or State Department security officials of those attacks?”
9) “Secretary Clinton, what is your primary concern about your e-mail records – preventing anyone from seeing your personal e-mails or the security and integrity of government e-mail communications? If it was security, why would you deliberately put the State Department at risk by using an inherently insecure e-mail system?”
10) “If you are elected President, will you commit to using only a government supplied e-mail address for all communications?”
There, not so hard, right? Can someone e-mail this to Jake Tapper.