Media Matters: Rove touted Russert question on Clinton library docs based on falsehood





Summary: On Hannity & Colmes, Karl Rove referenced a question posed by Tim Russert to Hillary Clinton during the October 30 Democratic presidential debate, in which Russert stated:"[T]here was a letter written by President Clinton specifically asking that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012. Would you lift the ban?" In fact, President Clinton did not ask that such communications"not be made available"; he listed them as documents to be" considered for withholding."

On the December 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Newsweekcontributor Karl Rove asserted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)"gets asked by Russert about the secret documents that she and President Clinton have attempted to hide at the library, and she gives a mealy-mouthed response." Rove made a similar claim in a December 3 Financial Timesop-ed that he discussed during the segment. In that op-ed, he stated:"Take the exchange in the Philadelphia debate about Bill and Hillary keeping documents hidden about her role as first lady in his White House. She was evasive." At the October 30 Democratic presidential debate, NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert asked Clinton:"[T]here was a letter written by President Clinton specifically asking that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012. Would you lift the ban?" In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted repeatedly (here, here, here, here, and here), in his letter, President Clinton did not ask that such communications"not be made available," but rather listed them as documents to be"considered for withholding" [emphasis added].

As Media Matters has also noted, in a November 2 statement, reprinted on the Daily Kos blog, William J. Clinton Records representative Bruce Lindsey said that rather than prohibiting the release of communications between Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton had merely designated such communications as part of a"subset" of presidential records"that should be reviewed prior to release."

From the December 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

ROVE: As I said in the article, my first piece of advice was stop being a vitamin-deficient Adlai Stevenson. I mean, the guy [Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (IL)] -- she gives him these openings and he just -- he can't take her on effectively. He has in the last couple of weeks started to. And I think that's part of his rise. But he has missed some big ones.

Philadelphia, as I cite in the article, is the biggest example. She gets asked by Russert about the secret documents that she and President Clinton have attempted to hide at the library, and she gives a mealy-mouthed response. He speaks next -- Obama speaks next -- and he can't bring himself to turn to her and say, Senator Clinton, with all due respect, you and your husband could make those documents available tomorrow if you wanted to, and your failure to do so raises some real doubts in people's minds as to what you're hiding, and those doubts will cause our party problems if you're our nominee in the fall. So please, for the sake of our party, sake of our country, change course.

SEAN HANNITY (co-host): But you added one other part of that, too. And that is that he should have turned to her and looked at her directly.

ROVE: Right.

HANNITY: And said it, not in a confrontational way, but in a forceful way.

ROVE: Right, right.

HANNITY: The words you used at one point were that he needs to sharpen his attack and make those attacks more precise against her.




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