No one has done more to help Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton win the White House in the 2016 election than her Republican presidential adversary, Donald Trump.
But the American media comes in a close second in that effort, studiously ignoring the many concerns over Clinton's trustworthiness while consistently downplaying accusations against her, functioning essentially as another cog in her campaign apparatus.
That was evident in late July, when WikiLeaks dumped a new round of emails that showed the Democratic National Committee colluded with the Clinton campaign to undermine rival Bernie Sanders, and even floated ideas like portraying Sanders as an atheist to reduce his chances of winning primaries in heavily religious states.
The emails were scandalous for about half a day, until the Clinton campaign came up with a new narrative to shift the blame. The obliging media obeyed their masters on Clinton's press team, and soon the coverage was dominated not by Clinton and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz trying to undermine democracy, but by the claim that Russian hackers were behind the leak because they wanted to help Trump win.
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Soon, the narrative evolved further, to the point where Trump himself was accused of working with the Russians directly. (Again, Trump himself gave Clinton a nice assist by blurting out a plea to the Russians to hack Clinton.)
Now Clinton's campaign strategists, aided by their faithful lapdogs in the press, have pulled off the same trick in late August.
Much of the week's political coverage was focused, on the pay-to-play accusations against Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Yet another batch of emails shows that wealthy donors to the Clinton Initiative were given special access to Clinton, with internal emails describing the deep-pocketed petitioners as "good friends" so staffers knew to fast-track their requests.
Those revelations were tied to ongoing lawsuits against the State Department by The Associated Press and Judicial Watch, both of which filed Freedom of Information Act requests for copies of Clinton's daily schedules while she was Secretary. It turns out that Clinton had her staff draw up publicly-released schedules which omitted meetings with well-heeled donors as well as private schedules -- which detailed all her meetings with people who supported the Clinton Initiative with their wallets.
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We know this because Huma Abedin, Clinton's longtime aide, admitted she burned those private schedules during a deposition in July related to Clinton's email scandal, The Hill reported.
But here we are on Aug. 29, and the trending political story isn't Clinton's sketchy behavior while she was Secretary of State -- it's the fact that Trump himself donated $100,000 to the Clinton Initiative.
Trump's campaign freely admits the New York businessman donated the money to the Clintons' charity. It was more than six years ago, before Trump was a politician with presidential aspirations, and before there were whispers about impropriety with the Clinton Initiative.
Oddly, there's no news peg to the stories about Trump's donations. Trump himself has spoken about it several times publicly. It's been public knowledge for years. But the stories leave a dangling, half-unspoken accusation -- that somehow, Trump is complicit in any problems with the Clinton Initiative, or that he's a hypocrite for writing a check half a decade before serious questions emerged about how the Clintons handled donations.
It's like that head-scratcher back in late July, when the news cycle was dominated for two weeks by Khizr Khan's passionate speech trashing Trump. Khan's son died in the Iraq War -- a war Clinton not only voted for, but pushed heavily while she was a U.S. senator, repeating the same lies the George W. Bush administration used to justify the invasion.
Clinton agitated for the war that got Khan's son killed. Trump was a real estate magnate at the time, not a politician, and had nothing to do with the war. Again, Trump didn't help matters by opening his mouth and engaging in a war of words with Khan, but the way the Clinton camp was able to manipulate the media cycle was astonishing.
At this point, the story about Trump's $100,000 donation is a drop in the bucket. It won't change opinions, and it's just more negative coverage for a campaign that can't get out of its own way. Unless Trump pulls off a monumental upset in the upcoming debates, his campaign appears dead in the water -- but even if Trump beats the odds and turns in a magnificent debate performance, the press will find something negative to focus on. For a candidate who refuses to even take questions from reporters, the press really loves Hillary Clinton.