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Sorry, but 'her emails' were a legitimate scandal and they deserved to be covered

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Remember 2016? Yes, I also wish I didn’t. But today, many journalists are asking what the media did wrong that year, so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes in 2020. And boy, are they already getting it wrong.

An emerging consensus among younger journalistic types on Twitter is that one of the media’s biggest mistakes during the 2016 campaign was excessive coverage of Hillary Clinton’s email scandals. Or to be more specific, the actual claim is not that the scandal was given too much coverage, but that it wasn’t even a scandal to begin with.

You can see this strain of argument creep into the public square whenever the alleged Trumpian atrocity du jour is quote-tweeted with the sarcastic note, “But her emails!”

Matt Yglesias is representative of this school. Back in November, he wrote a piece with the self-explanatory title, “ The real Clinton email scandal is that a bullshit story has dominated the campaign.

There’s certainly an argument for wondering if coverage of this or that during that crazy year wasn’t a bit too intense. There is, however, no possible rational argument that the email scandal was not a real, legitimate scandal, deserving of widespread coverage and opprobrium.

Let’s start with the facts that nobody disputes: upon reaching the State Department, Hillary Clinton’s staff, at her request, set up a private email server to handle most of her communications. This was in contravention to rules about public records. Furthermore, the server used old, off-the-shelf software that almost certainly left it vulnerable to hacking by ill-intentioned actors.

What’s scandalous about that? Well, first, it was a massive lapse in information security at the highest level of the U.S. government. Some have responded that the FBI did not find any information that the server had been hacked. This does........

© Washington Examiner