Networks Cover FBI Recommendation on Clinton Emails

Broadcast network news operations broke into regular programming Tuesday to cover the FBI announcement that it was recommending to the Justice Department that no indictment was appropriate in the investigation of the handling of Hillary Clinton's emails as Secretary of State and that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges in such a situation.

FBI director James Comey made the announcement that the FBI was recommending that no charges be brought.

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

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

He said there was no evidence that Clinton's servers had been hacked, but finessed that answer immediately by saying that given the skill of such hackers, they likely would not see the evidence if they had hacked Clinton's private servers.

TV pundits were viewing the announcement as a double-edged sword for the candidate. The lead was still that no indictment was recommended, but CNN's Wolf Blitzer called Comey's characterization of Clinton's handling of the info as "damning" nonetheless and a "severe slap."

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.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that while he respected "law enforcement professionals at the FBI," he said Comey's announcement "defies explanation. Noone should be above the law. But based on the director's own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law."

“This stunning decision shows just what the American people are so tired of: a system where the Clintons and the politically-connected few get to play by a different set of rules from everyone else," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). "Despite declining to recommend charges, the FBI Director’s press conference today was nothing short of damning.  It proved that Secretary Clinton was not only ‘extremely careless’ in her handling of classified information, but also that she knew better and did it anyway."

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.