Hidden in Plain Sight - Part 2
Joan Brunwasser: In the first installment of this three-part series, we set the stage: why you devised this timeline and what it's revealed so far. Before we turn to the Clinton Foundation, Paul, which is a whole other kettle of fish, I'd like to know a bit more about how you put this together. I was a little surprised to see you used a wiki format. How come?
Paul Thompson: I want this information presented as objectively as possible, but I can't be completely objective. Nobody can, and anyone who says otherwise isn't being honest with themselves; we all have our biases. I try my best to simply present the facts by quoting and summarizing news stories. But it's better if more people get involved, so something I missed could be added or changed by someone else. I figured the Wiki format is ideal for that, especially since I was lucky to have a helper who installed the exact same software that runs Wikipedia. One has to ask to join, in order to deter saboteurs. But I'm open to input from people of all political persuasions, as long as their goal is getting to the truth and not political spin.
JB: And how's that going? The piece is quite extensive already. Is it still growing?
PT: Yes, it's still growing by leaps and bounds. So far, I've added nearly all the content myself, but I've had key help from others in editing, adding pictures, and creating and maintaining the website. Because I hadn't paid close attention to the scandal until a few months ago, I had no idea how many thousands of different news stories there were. I've created a separate timeline just about the Clinton Foundation aspect, and I feel I still have much to learn about that. Then there are all the latest news stories coming out. I'm having a hard time keeping up.
JB: I bet. Did you have any particular criteria about which news outlets to include in your timeline?
PT: My goal is to use only "mainstream" news sources, so people won't dispute the information because of sourcing. I've also tried hard not to use right wing sources, so Clinton supporters won't be able to dismiss this by saying it's all just right-wing spin, like Benghazi. However, that's been hard to do all the time, because it's the right wing outlets and organizations that have been suing the government for more information on this. For instance, the conservative legal watchdog group Judicial Watch initiated lots of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits early on, so most newly released documents come from their lawsuits. What I always try to do is link to the original government documents. I don't see how anyone can dispute those, even if some conservative group got them first.
JB: That makes sense. My last question before we move on is one that's been niggling me for a while: Guccifer hacked into Clinton's email more than three years ago. Why is this story taking so long to find its legs?
PT: That's a very good question. Interestingly, just five days after Guccifer's 2013 hack, Gawker published an article that basically predicted the media firestorm that happened a year and a half later. It asked, "Why was Clinton apparently receiving emails at a non-governmental email account?" And it pointed out that this "could be a major security breach for Clinton." But nobody else in the media seemed to notice these things at the time! Unfortunately, I think the media dropped the ball because the quality of investigative journalism has gone way down in recent years. Far too often, the media waits for a story to drop into their laps instead of going out and finding it. In a better world, private citizens like me wouldn't be putting together information like I have in this timeline because the mainstream media would be doing long investigative stories that laid out all the facts in an easily understandable way. But that hardly ever happens anymore.
JB: You aren't kidding. And we're all worse off for that lack of in depth media scrutiny. I'm ready now. Let's turn to the Clinton Foundation. Why did you decide to do a separate wiki on the foundation?
PT: At first, it was all one big timeline. But that was (and still is!) too big. People can digest things better if they're broken into chunks. The Clinton Foundation is related and yet mostly separate, so I broke that off. Furthermore, I feel I have a lot of material about the foundation yet to cover, and more is bound to come out. This is really two scandals in one.
JB: That sounds ominous. What would you like to tell our readers about the Clinton Foundation? What did you find out?