If you watched or read the coverage of Hillary Clinton's press conference yesterday, there's a phrase you heard, in one variation or another, over and over. "Clinton's email explanation won't placate critics," said the AP. "Her defense...is unlikely to satisfy her critics or stop the questions," said The Washington Post. Democrats, said National Journal, "worry her approach does little to quiet the critics."
Oh, please. Short of committing seppuku right there in front of the cameras, there wasn't anything Clinton could have done to placate, satisfy, quiet, mollify, or otherwise ease the minds of her critics. Let's not pretend we don't all know exactly how this game is played.
Whether it's because they honestly believe that she is guilty of horrible crimes that we might find if only we looked hard enough, or because they just know that keeping up a relentless stream of faux-outrage bleating is good strategy, Republicans will, for each and every day Hillary Clinton remains in public life, not be quieted. That's politics, and that's fine. But it's positively inane to ask "Can Clinton satisfy her critics?" It's as though in the Super Bowl pregame show, one sportscaster turned to another and said, "Jim, what can the Patriots do to satisfy the Seahawks' concerns?" That's not what they're there for. They're trying to win.
To be clear, I'm not trying to defend Clinton's decisions about her email or the things she said yesterday. I have some problems with both. But the question journalists are asking is clear evidence that they think "Republicans criticize Clinton" is itself a newsworthy event deserving of further coverage and discussion. It isn't, any more than the sun setting tonight and rising tomorrow.
That Republicans will criticize Clinton over this and every other issue is a given. So journalists have to then determine whether the criticisms have any merit. Sometimes they will, and sometimes they won't. If they do, then go ahead and cover it. If they don't, then there's no reason to give them more attention than they deserve. It's called exercising news judgment. We might want to give it a try.