Fixation on Clinton e-mail is ridiculous

Most of us will never end up as the Secretary of State or potentially have an extremely high-profile presidential run. Though we all sometimes take some shortcuts to get what we want, not all of our mistakes will be publicly exposed. A probable Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has recently been put in such a difficult situation.

Media outlets have recently highlighted Clinton using her private e-mail account for government correspondence during her time as Secretary of State. I’m sure every one of us has used a private e-mail account to send a school or work e-mail. While most of us are not in positions of power, it is something that almost everyone has done at one time or another. The issue at hand is that Clinton may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record, which some government officials are calling a “serious breach.”

Without a doubt, what Clinton did was not correct due to its violation of the Federal Records Act. By using her private e-mail, she corresponded with foreign dignitaries in a way that could not be completely monitored by the U.S. government. However, how many of us can completely separate work and personal matters, especially within a job as prominent and demanding as Secretary of State?

The uproar surrounding these communications is already moving into its second week. Clinton tried to avoid speaking about the issue, hoping it would blow over, but it did not.

The first thing that Clinton did when she got in front of a room full of press at the United Nations was apologize and admit to her mistake. However, that did not seem to quell the stream of questions and the press conference quickly descended into a defensive mockery of civilized discussion.

But who really cares? All of her work-related e-mails are being released, and 55,000 pages have already been pored over. In addition to that, the public nature of her job leads one to assume that Clinton was not actively trying to keep her actions secret by using her private e-mail; it was simply an oversight. Unfortunately, making a story out of her mistake sells papers, so it has been blown out of proportion.

Nothing can prompt us to pick up a paper like a big picture of someone we love to hate facing hordes of hostile reporters. Of course, nothing of any substance is discussed in news articles that use words like “yoga” and “wedding” more frequently than terms actually relevant to Clinton’s former job description. The import that our nation’s media is giving to a situation of questionable relevance belies the American people’s preference for sensationalism.

In a country that is facing massive internal crises, such as police forces’ treatment of citizens and the vast gulf between our two major political parties, focusing on this triviality is extremely detrimental to facilitating any sort of positive political discourse. We can’t seem to go ten minutes into a news show without mentioning personal e-mails sent by a woman who hasn’t proven herself to be untrustworthy, but we spend little to no time on other issues of actual domestic importance.

A situation such as this cannot get much more ridiculous, but I am sure the media can find a way to make the e-mails of a woman doing her job an even bigger “scandal.”

Although, did you see her hair at the press conference? It looked really nice; I think that she has been doing something new with it.

Christine Barkley ’18 barkle1@stolaf.edu is from St. Paul, Minn. Her major is undecided.

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