Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Tim Graham.
Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus are both Yale-educated reporters-turned-columnists at The Washington Post. They view the world through the same lens. This sometimes means they can write pretty much the same column. It also means they both have a huge blind spot when it comes to sympathizing with Hillary Clinton.
Last Sunday, both columnists wrote about the damaging report from the State Department's inspector general, which concluded that Clinton's act of putting her State Department email on a private server was authorized by no one but the self-appointed queen herself. Even the network newscasts, so normally supportive of the presumptive Democratic nominee, subtly implied that Clinton's self-defenses had been exposed as lies. But these two columnists concluded she was only guilty of a self-inflicted wound on her campaign.
Milbank's column was headlined "Hunkered Hillary made things worse." The pull quote from the Marcus column was, "The greatest irony here may be that the Clintonian urge for privacy produces the opposite of what she needs."
Here's the blind spot: Both Milbank and Marcus think Clinton doesn't match Trump's nickname "Crooked Hillary." She's just too scared of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and overreaches. Her "instinctive caution" got the best of her.
Marcus protests that this was just a dumb mistake, a "massive failure of staff" that no one talked Clinton out of a private server. Milbank's whole column can be boiled down to this rebuttal of Trump's nickname: "This isn't quite true: Though investigations into her activities have occupied much of the past 25 years, her accusers, on Whitewater to Benghazi, never really get the goods."
These columnists speak negatively of Clinton's "accusers" -- the ones responsible for giving her "scar tissue" with their "politically motivated attacks and endless investigations" -- as Republican partisans. The silent omission in all of that is that neither of these journalists think it's the job of the media to investigate and "get the goods," to make Clinton more transparent or accountable as a public servant.
The media are only assigned to call Republicans to account.
These journalists insist the Clintons should cooperate with investigators, but they refuse to admit that more often than not, the "protective crouch" works for them. Their relentless lying and hiding/destroying evidence seems damaging when it's fresh in the news for a few hours...and then the media go back to papering it over.
Take The Clinton Foundation. Imagine a Republican administration where a former president's wife became secretary of state, while he accepted huge donations to his foundation from foreign countries seeking preferential treatment in Washington, D.C. Would anyone ever think that would be permitted?
But the liberal media just laid down on the job as the Clintons made a "wink wink" arrangement with President Obama that The Clinton Foundation would stop taking new foreign donations...except from countries that had previously donated to the foundation...as long as donors didn't increase their contributions. And why not look the other way? The press has allowed the Obama administration to police itself since the start.
Even now, after reporters exposed how The Clinton Foundation broke these rules -- as if the Clintons would follow rules -- the major networks offered just 27 minutes in all of 2015 to the massive conflicts of interest. This from the people who offered 88 minutes to Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal in two days. And, in case you're wondering how many minutes the networks have spent this year on The Clinton Foundation: less than five minutes.
So, why shouldn't the Clintons continue lying and hiding evidence? It's not like the media want to violate their precious "urge for privacy." After all, she's only running for president.