Nets Covering FBI Recommendation on Clinton E-Mails

Cable news networks and broadcast news operations were covering the FBI's announcement that it was recommending to the Justice Department that no indictment was appropriate in the investigation of the handling of Hillary Clinton's e-mails as Secretary of State and that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges in such a situation.

Broadcast network news operations broke into regular programming Tuesday to air FBI director James Comey's announcement that the law enforcement agency is recommending that no charges be brought against the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Comey said the FBI's investigation concluded there were careless procedures at State and emphasized he was not suggesting such conduct should be free of consequences, simply that they should not include a criminal indictment. But he also said even though the information in the emails may not have been marked "classified," Clinton and others should have known the emails were.

Comey described Clinton as "extremely careless" with the security of that email information.

While he said the FBI found no evidence that Clinton's servers had been hacked, he finessed that immediately, saying that given the skill of such hackers, they likely would leave no evidence if they had hacked Clinton's private servers.

TV pundits were viewing the announcement as a double-edged sword for the candidate. They led with the recomendation against indictment, but CNN's Wolf Blitzer, for example, called Comey's characterization of Clinton's handling of the info "damning" and a "severe slap."  Additionally, Clinton reportedly met with FBI investigators over the weekend, so the speed with which Comey made the recommendation surprised some commentators.

Clinton's likely GOP presidential rival, Donald Trump, tweeted following the Comey announcement: "The system is rigged. General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment," followed by "FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem."

One Republican strategist--commening for CNN--said rather than focusing on a "rigged system," Trump should hammer Clinton over how she had characterized her handling of the e-mails versus how Comey characterized it.

Clinton reportedly had a meeting over the weekend with FBI investigators, so the speed with which Comey made the recommendation surprised some commentators.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.