As news that the FBI is re-investigating Hillary Clinton broke yesterday, most conservatives and liberty-minded folks were jubilated by the news. However, one entity in the liberty blogosphere did not share that same reaction.
The Libertarian Republic, a liberty-oriented news and opinion website, responded to the breaking news in a peculiar and contradictory manner. After initially reporting the story as it was, a very specious clarification article was produced that seemingly took the onus off of Hillary and her e-mails, painting the picture that Comey’s letter was much ado about nothing.
The original article was written with the title of “BREAKING: FBI is Now Reopening Clinton Email Case” and gave a straight forward re-telling of the facts that were laid out during the day.
“In a shocking turn of events, the FBI has announced they are reopening the Hillary Clinton private email server case,” the article stated. “According to a letter sent by FBI Director James Comey to congressional committee chairs, the re-discovery of ‘new emails…pertinent to the investigation’ was the main reason for the reopening of the investigation.”
In stark contrast, the revision article that was produced later in the day obfuscated the truth and played semantic games to downplay the relevance of the news. It was titled “FACT CHECK: FBI is Not “Reopening” the Clinton Email Case.”
The second article admitted that FBI Director James Comey penned a letter saying that the agency “should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” However, the article then pivoted and said that Comey’s declaration did not indicate a re-investigation.
Muddying the situation and confusing matters even further, an addendum was eventually added to the revision indicating that the original investigation was never actually closed:
As pointed out by various publications, the original investigation was never formally closed. Therefore, while this new information may be used in continuance of the ongoing investigation, the significance of such an occurrence is far less than if a once-closed investigation were required to be “reopened.” As asserted by Comey, there is no indication whatsoever that the new information will lead to anything of substance. Therefore, the above unaltered report remains pertinent.
The author’s speculation that “there is no indication whatsoever that the new information will lead to anything of substance” remains to be seen. Nevertheless, a reporter’s arbitrary opinion about what may or may not take place in the future ought not be taken into consideration when reporting the news, as what has occurred here with TLR.
LAZY REPORTING OR DELIBERATE MALICE?
The history of the liberty-oriented organization could shed some light on the possible motives behind this reporting. The Libertarian Republic was formerly owned and operated by Austin Petersen, failed 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, who still contributes to the website. After his loss, Petersen showed himself to be a party man and endorsed the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld ticket.
Unsurprisingly, Petersen has adopted rhetorical strategies similar to the candidates he is stumping for. Petersen has noticeably backed off Hillary Clinton while attacking Donald Trump much more harshly, in spite of Clinton’s unmatched record of government abuses. Taking cues from the mainstream media, Petersen jumps on Trump whenever they give him an opportunity.
One of his latest videos, “Nazis in the Liberty Movement” is a particularly glaring example of Petersen’s style of seizing mainstream media talking points and running with them. “Donald Trump leads an army of white supremacists and fascists” is a literal quote from his video blog, as he used the hurt feelings of David French of the National Review and Ben Shapiro, formerly of Breitbart, for alleged proof of his accusation.
This duplicitous reporting could be another example of the Libertarian strategy to ignore actual crimes from one of the major party candidates to focus on the potential crimes of the other major party candidate. Whether TLR’s editing was done to deliberately prop up Hillary Clinton or merely as a click bait attempt to gin up traffic by producing several contradictory stories, the Libertarian Republic must strive to be more consistent and reliable when reporting poignant news in the future.