How good was Newsroom’s journalism?

There is no doubt that Newsroom journalist Melanie Reid extensively investigated the Todd Barclay story that hit the headlines all through yesterday. It has been hailed by many as great journalism, and to an extent that is fair praise.

But I want to raise questions about how the story was published that other media probably won’t say anything about.

The publishing of the story – actually multiple stories – looks like a carefully orchestrated hit.

It will have taken some time to investigate and write up.

It was likely to that they deliberate broke the story on a Tuesday morning, the first day of the week that Parliament sits. Fair enough, they have to decide some time to publish, and that’s when MPs are usually readily available for responses.

They didn’t just publish the whole story. They published the first hit at about 8 am. They held back more details until later in the day. Why? Good journalism? To maximise publicity and website hits? I guess that’s part of the media game these days.

They published two follow up stories late in the afternoon. Why hold those back?

They have promised another story today.  Last night Tim Murphy at Newsroom promised more via Twitter: “There’s at least one more lie to come in the morning.  “.

Is the drip feeding of a story good journalism, or is it trying to catch MPs out in not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

I’ve seen activists describe these tactics for political hit jobs – hold back details in the hope that their targets will compromise themselves.

It is often said (and I saw it yesterday) that it’s not the political ‘crime’ that does the damage, it’s the way it is dealt with by the targets. (Update: Andrew Little was just quoted on RNZ saying this).

The aim is to stir things up with a story and then hope that the target compromises themselves further by lying or reacting badly to try and cover up or minimise their exposure.

Is it good journalism to play this game?

Or, once they have done their good journalistic investigating shouldn’t they just come out with everything they have?

I may have it wrong, but I got the feeling yesterday that Newsroom were not just reporting what they had discovered, they were trying to maximise the impact on the targets of their story.

I got the feeling that they had a dagger blow, but were stabbing for maximum political blood, not just reporting.

The lines can be very blurred between political activism and media.

Most journalists and opponents of the Government will applaud yesterday’s stories as a well researched, well planned and well executed hit.

The media  can be very powerful. They can influence major political outcomes (like US presidential elections and referendums on major changes to the European Union).

Newsroom’s stories will make some difference in our election this year. They could quite feasibly be a significant factor in changing our Government.

Should we just accept that media are as much a part of the political game playing as anyone?

 

What does the UK election mean for NZ?

What does the UK election result mean for New Zealand politics? Not as much as some enthusiasts for a Labour revival here seem to think. The situation in the UK is vastly different to here in New Zealand, except perhaps that they both had unpopular leaders of parties struggling to be liked.

Brexit

New Zealand has nothing like Brexit. The UK is planning to go through a massive change by severing it’s European Union ties, while New Zealand is chugging along fairly well and uncontroversially.

Terrorism and Immigration

New Zealand doesn’t have a terrorism problem, and we also don’t have anywhere near the level of immigration issues that the UK has (many of their immigration issues are closely tied to being in the EU).

UKIP and SNP

The collapse of the UKIP vote and the significant losses for the Scottish National Party (they lost a third of their vote share and over a third of their MPS) and the redistribution of votes to Labour and to a lesser extent the Conservatives has no obvious parallel here.

FPP versus MMP

New Zealand has the moderating influence of MMP, under which no party has ever held an absolute majority and coalition governments are normal and expected.

This is in contrast to the UK which has the archaic FPP system still and the ‘hung Parliament’ scenario was big news. A governing  arrangement between the Conservatives and probably DUP is seen as potentially weak and there have been suggestions the UK may have to go to another election sooner rather than later.

The rise of Corbyn

Some on the left here are seeing Corbyn’s rise, albeit short of a victory, as a great ‘win’ for the left and will be encouraged.

No doubt there will be more and louder calls for NZ Labour to swing further left and campaign on similar issues that were successful for UK Labour. This may well influence Labour here, but it may not turn out to be wise.

Health

One issue in the UK that seems to have been important is their health system. Labour here have health as one of their key issues. Andrew Little has lost credibility over his persistence in talking up (erroneously) health cuts.  I presume Labour will keep trying to get some traction on it.

Housing

Housing doesn’t seem to have been a significant issue in the UK, but it is here, especially in Auckland. That is as much a local body issue as a national political issue but is likely to be a factor in our election in September.

Snap Election

One message that should have been clearly received by New Zealand parties and leaders is the folly of calling a snap election for no good constitutional reason. We haven’t had a snap election under MMP and are unlikely to in the foreseeable future.

Polls

Another key message is that polls are an approximate indication of support only, and they can move quite quickly in a short time in an election campaign.

There are signs also that a significant proportion of voters either don’t give accurate responses to pollsters, or change their minds late.

English and Little

I think in our election a lot will depend on how Bill English and Andrew Little shape up.

English is not very colourful but has vast political and governing experience and has an in depth knowledge of economic issues and a wide range of other issues.

Little is dour. He may find a way of connecting during the campaign, but I think his biggest weakness contrasts with English’s strength – he doesn’t seem to have picked up a huge amount of in depth knowledge of issues, and he is poor at thinking on his feet during interviews. Unless he masters this he may get caned in debates with English, and that may well decide this election.

In fact May campaigned poorly, avoided debates and was strongly criticised for bland recitals rather than sounding intelligent and being on top of the issues. That sounds more like how Little is.

Labour here will get a lot of confidence from the resurgence of UK Labour and the improvement of Corbyn. Little badly needs a confidence boost. He may lift himself after the UK result.

National should also have learned from the UK result, from May’s poor performance, a poorly run campaign, and arrogance.

There are some things to learn here from the UK experience, but there are also  significant differences.

UK election aftermath

The UK election is over, resulting in a hung Parliament, about the worst thing that could have happened with Brexit to deal with shortly.

But despite her quest for more power and dumping a snap election on Labour backfiring Theresa May has not mucked around.

The biggest losers, apart from May’s credibility, were UKIP, who lost 108% of the vote. They dropped to just 1.8% and lost their only seat.

Labour increased their share of the vote by 5.5% to 42.4%, while the Conservatives increased their’s by less, 5.5%, but still got the most at 42.4%.

BBC:  May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing

Theresa May has said she will put together a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists to guide the UK through crucial Brexit talks.

Speaking after visiting Buckingham Palace, she said only her party had the “legitimacy” to govern, despite falling eight seats short of a majority.

In a short statement outside Downing Street after an audience with the Queen, Mrs May said she would join with her DUP “friends” to “get to work” on Brexit.

Referring to the “strong relationship” she had with the DUP but giving little detail of how their arrangement might work, she said she intended to form a government which could “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country”.

“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years,” she said.

“And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”

It is thought Mrs May will seek some kind of informal arrangement with the DUP that could see it “lend” its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as “confidence and supply”.

Later, she said she “obviously wanted a different result” and was “sorry” for colleagues who lost their seats.

“I’m sorry for all those candidates… who weren’t successful, and also particularly sorry for MPs and ministers who’d contributed so much to our country, and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.

“As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what I need to do in the future to take the party forward.”

So for now at least all the speculation and demands that she step down as Conservative leader and Prime Minister were meaningless.

But Labour said they were the “real winners”.

They gained a lot of votes (9.5% up to 40.0%) and some seats (up 29 to 261) but still lost the election. They still have Jeremy Corbyn as leader, hailed as an election hero and it will be difficult to budge him now, but still out of government possibly for the next five years.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn says May ‘underestimated’ voters

Jeremy Corbyn has said Theresa May “underestimated” voters and the Labour Party after the Tories failed to win an overall majority in the election.

He said people had voted “for hope” after his party secured 261 seats in Parliament.

The Labour leader called on Mrs May to resign after the Conservatives were left eight seats short of a majority.

“Your vote for us was a vote for change, a vote for our country and a vote for hope,” he said.

“But she underestimated the Labour Party, and more importantly, she underestimated you.”

He went on to say Theresa May called the general election “in her party’s interests, not in the interests of the country” and thought she could “take your vote for granted”.

To an extent Corbyn is correct, May made a silly decision to call a snap election and campaigned terribly, but Corbyn and Labour are still in opposition for now at least.

Not enough of “the people” chose to ditch May and the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems said Mrs May should be “ashamed” of carrying on.

BBC:  Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says May should go

Theresa May must resign and Brexit negotiations should be put on hold, the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said.

He said talks about leaving the EU should be delayed until the new government sets out its plans to the public.

And he insisted there would be no deal to prop up a Tory government.

“Like David Cameron before her, our Conservative prime minister rolled the dice with the future of our country out of sheer arrogance and vanity,” he said.

“It is simply inconceivable that the prime minister can begin the Brexit negotiations in just two weeks’ time.

“She should consider her future – and then, for once, she should consider the future of our country.”

But it was a mixed election for the Liberal Democrats. They gained 4 seats (now 12) but lost some MPs and votes, dropping half a percent to 7.4%.

Mr Farron’s comments came after a night which saw the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg lose his seat to the Labour Party in Sheffield Hallam, becoming the first major figure to fall in the 2017 election.

But former ministers Vince Cable and Jo Swinson both won back their seats after losing them in 2015.

And Mr Farron kept his seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale, although his majority fell from 8,949 to just 777.

The big question now: Who are the Democratic Union Party?

They won 10 seats, up 2, and 292,316 votes, 0.9% of the total.

Theresa May has said she will form a government with the support of the DUP, though it is not clear what kind of arrangement this will be.

Despite party leader Arlene Foster warning it would be difficult for the prime minister to stay in No 10, discussions are certainly going on behind the scenes.

The party has moved on to the political centre stage but most people will be in the dark about what it stands for.

The DUP website crashed on Friday morning after a surge of interest, and DUP was also one of the most searched terms on Google.

Basically, they are pro-union (not Europe but UK), pro-Brexit and socially conservative.

The party, which returned 10 MPs to Westminster, has garnered a bit of a reputation for its strong and controversial views.

It opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion – abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.

Mervyn Storey, the party’s former education spokesman, once called for creationism – the belief that human life did not evolve over millions of years but was created by God – to be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

In December, the DUP’s Trevor Clarke was criticised by Sir Elton John after the politician admitted he did not know heterosexual people could contract HIV until a charity explained the facts to him.

Fairly conservative then, on social issues at least.

Then there’s the party’s historical links to loyalist paramilitaries.

During this general election campaign, the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly received the endorsement of the three biggest loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Although the DUP said it did not accept their support, in her acceptance speech, Mrs Little-Pengelly thanked those who came out to vote for her, singling out several loyalist working class areas in Belfast.

The DUP was a wholehearted supporter of Brexit and got heavily involved in the Leave campaign.

After Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland becomes an EU frontier and the DUP is not in favour of a so-called hard border. This means no checkpoints or intrusive enforcement.

So no hard border but in the round, the party’s vision of Brexit is a fairly hard one – it was the most Eurosceptic party in the UK before the ascent of UKIP.

The party also wants to leave the EU customs union – their manifesto says there should be “progress on new free trade deals with the rest of the world” – and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, ensuring that in future British law is supreme.

One red line is the idea of Northern Ireland being granted some sort of “special status” when Brexit comes to pass – the DUP will not stand for any arrangement that physically sets the region apart from anywhere else in the UK.

Its 2017 manifesto set out its position on Brexit and other issues, including:

  • Further increases to the personal tax allowance – similar to Conservative Party policy
  • Continued rises in the national living wage – similar
  • Renew Trident – similar
  • Revisit terrorism laws – similar
  • Abolish air passenger duty – different from the Conservatives
  • Cut VAT for tourism businesses – different
  • Call for “triple lock” on pensions – different

Its key slogan during the campaign turned out to be rather prescient: “A vote for the DUP team is a vote to send ‘Team Northern Ireland’ to Westminster. It is a team that has real influence”.

It looks like DUP may have real influence now.

UK election results today

Voting continues in the UK general election at the moment. Polling stations close at 10 pm – UK time is 11 hours behind (their daylight saving time) – so that will be 9 am NZ time.

Polling stations will close at 10pm this evening and an eagerly anticipated exit poll will follow shortly after.

The reason it is so eagerly anticipated? Exit polls are almost always in the right ball park when it comes to predicting the final result.

So we should get an idea from the exit polls mid morning here, with more detailed results coming out through the our day.

Despite the polls closing dramatically during the campaign it seems unlikely they will have closed enough for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour to beat the current Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Telegraph:  General Election 2017 Live: Polls predict Tory win as May and Corbyn vote 

Theresa May is on course to increase her majority in the House of Commons with a final General Election 2017 poll giving the Tories a lead of eight points over Labour as the nation heads to the ballot box.

The Conservatives had as much as a 24 point lead when the snap election was called by the Prime Minister.

But Ipsos MORI’s final 2017 election survey for the Evening Standard, which was undertaken on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, puts the Conservatives on 44 per cent and Labour on 36.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll that was published on Wednesday evening put the Tories on 42 per cent and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party on 35, a lead of seven points.

So it looks like the Conservatives should win fairly comfortably unless there is an unprecedented poll discrepancy.

The results will emerge from the UK during our day here.

EVENING UPDATE:

BBC Summary

  1. General election ends in a hung Parliament
  2. Conservatives set to win 318 seats
  3. Labour predicted to get 262
  4. Theresa May promises ‘period of stability’, but Jeremy Corbyn urges her to quit
  5. Nick Clegg loses his seat, but Sir Vince Cable is re-elected
  6. SNP’s Westminster leader loses his seat

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/election-2017-40171454

There are 650 seats so 326 are needed for a majority, theoretically, but Sinn Fein don’t front up, and as they have 7 seats (at this stage) 323 should be enough.  But May’s gamble has come up short. She may be able to get support from one or more other parties but that weakens the Conservatives considerably, which is the opposite of what May wanted.

A blatant pitch for more power has backfired. The big lesson for New Zealand is the danger of having self serving snap elections.

Final day of UK campaign

Can Theresa May lose what appeared to be an unlosable election for the Conservatives?

Can Jeremy Corbyn claim a miracle victory, despite the Labour caucus being in turmoil before the campaign began?

The Telegraph:  General election polls: Latest tracker and odds

The final General Election polls – all published before polling booths open – have showed that the gap between the Tories and Labour has remained at six points, after a Labour surge that saw the gap close dramatically.

The poll from Survation has the Tory lead at just one point over Labour, while ComRes has it standing at 12 points, as Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the BBC’s Leaders Debate while Theresa May boycotted it.

The Telegraph’s UK General Election polling averages:

UKPollTracker2017

According to the latest forecast by the University of East Anglia’s Chris Hanretty, the Conservatives would still gain a strong majority in Parliament.

Thanks to seat gains in the North of England and Scotland, Theresa May would benefit from a swing of 45 seats and end up with 375 MPs in Parliament.

The election is on Thursday 8 June, with polling between 7 am and 10 pm, so the results should be known sometime during Friday in New Zealand.

Clinton excuses again

I don’t know why Hillary Clinton has chosen to launch another round of excuses for losing the presidential election, but she doesn’t seem to be scoring much sympathy.

Fox News: Clinton says she takes responsibility for loss to Trump — but blames plenty

Hillary Clinton says she’s not running for president again, but she may be running out of excuses for why she lost the White House to President Trump.

Former FBI Director James Comey, Facebook, The New York Times, Russia, WikiLeaks, misogyny, the pressure of high expectations and the Democratic National Committee have been among the people, organizations and attitudes Clinton has saddled with responsibility in recent days for her stunning November loss.

Clinton, who has said she’s writing another book, has often told her interviewers she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for the loss. However, in other questions, she’s spread the blame liberally.

This time she let rip at the Democrat Party.

The former Democratic standard-bearer was perhaps her most forthcoming at Recode, even slamming her party for an inept election operation.

“It was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong,” Clinton said. “I had to inject money into it – the DNC – to keep it going.”

The media were a factor that had to be managed, but that worked for and against both candidates.

Clinton on Wednesday night also took aim at The New York Times – typically viewed as a left-leaning publication – for treating her secret server scandal “like it was Pearl Harbor.”

James Comey’s intervention obviously damaged Clinton’s chances but that was because she was already on shaky ground.

And the man in charge of that server investigation, Comey, didn’t escape Clinton’s wrath, either – particularly at issue for Clinton was the letter Comey sent to Congress late in the campaign announcing new evidence in the case may have been discovered. Comey ultimately never recommended Clinton be prosecuted.

Then a Clayton’s excuse:

“I take responsibility for every decision I make – but that’s not why I lost,” Clinton said Wednesday at the Recode Code Conference in California.

She lost because she and her campaign were not good enough against one of the most flawed and vulnerable opponents imaginable.

Chris Cillizza at CNN: In election blame game, it’s time for Hillary Clinton to take her share

Hillary Clinton’s list of who’s to blame for her 2016 election loss gets longer with every passing day.

On Wednesday, in an interview with Recode’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Clinton added a few more names to her list: The New York Times and the Democratic National Committee. That’s in addition to the media, James Comey, Donald Trump, the Russians and her supporters’ assumptions that she would win the race.

The one person missing from that list? Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sure, in her Recode interview, Clinton made passing reference — as she has done in her other post-election appearances — to the idea that she made mistakes.

“I take responsibility for every decision I make — but that’s not why I lost,” she said.

The first half of that sentence is pure politician speak; the second half is what Clinton really believes.

Whining over half a year later is not going to change the result, and worse, it is unlikely to help the Democrats move on and sort themselves out.

The truth of the matter is this: Hillary Clinton’s name was at the top of the campaign and signed on the checks her staff received. It was her decision to set up a private email server and exclusively use it for her communications as secretary of state — the first person in her position to do that.

She was the one who kept giving high-paid speeches to the likes of Goldman Sachs even after it was clear she was going to run for president. (“They paid me,” Clinton explained Wednesday.)

She was the one who struggled to grasp — despite the repeated warnings of her staff — that the email issue was causing her major image problems on questions of honesty and trustworthiness.

She was the one who struggled to put away a once-quixotic challenge by Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

She was the one who premised her entire general election strategy on the idea that once voters knew who Trump was and what he said, they would have no choice but to vote for her.

She’s the one who decided against visiting Wisconsin even one time between the Democratic convention and the general election.

All of those things played roles — you can debate how big or how small — in her loss. And Clinton had control of every single one.

There’s something worse than a loser in politics – a sore loser who won’t accept their failings and flaws.

And the more Clinton goes on and on making excuses and blaming everyone and everything else for her failure the worse it gets.

UK election campaign

What the hell has happened to the UK election campaign, and in particular the Conservative campaign and Theresa May?

The latest YouGov poll 30-31 May:

  • Conservatives 42%  (was 48% 2-3 May)
  • Labour 39% (was 29%)
  • Lib Dems 7% (was 10%)
  • UKIP 4% (was 5%)
  • Other 7%

The Telegraph: General election 2017: Latest polls and odds tracker

Labour continue to narrow the gap on the Conservatives with one new forecast from YouGov suggesting that Theresa May could actually lose seats on June 8.

At the start of the campaign some polls had the Tories at almost double the vote share of the Labour Party, indicating that the most likely outcome would be a landslide victory that would increase Theresa May’s current working majority of 17 in the House of Commons.

However, May’s lead has dropped from 17.8 points to below 10 in our poll tracker since she called the election on April 18.

Wikipedia: Opinion polling for the United Kingdom general election, 2017

May could end up failing worse than Hillary Clinton.

Dotcom offers evidence to US investigation

Kim Dotcom has offered evidence ti the Special Counsel investigating interference in the US presidential election last year and has volunteered to give it in person, providing he is guaranteed safe passage into and out of the US.


Kim Dotcom Approaches Special Counsel

KIM DOTCOM APPROACHES SPECIAL COUNSEL INVESTIGATING INTERFERENCE WITH THE 2016 UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION REGARDING EVIDENCE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
30 May 2017

In accordance with his previous statement on this matter, Kim Dotcom’s solicitors in New Zealand have today sent the following letter to Robert Mueller, Special Counsel appointed to investigate interference with the 2016 United States presidential election and related matters:

30 May 2017

Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Attention: Robert Mueller, Special Counsel

Dear Sir

INVESTIGATION INTO INTERFERENCE WITH THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND RELATED MATTERS

1. We act for Kim Dotcom in New Zealand.

2. We are writing to you in your capacity as special counsel appointed to carry out the above investigation pursuant to Order 3915-2017 (Investigation).

3. Mr Dotcom has evidence that he considers relevant to the Investigation. The purpose of this letter is to confirm that, subject to appropriate arrangements being made and his constitutional rights being preserved, Mr Dotcom is willing to provide this evidence to the Investigation. He has instructed us to make this approach to initiate the necessary dialogue as to the required arrangements.

4. As you may be aware, Mr Dotcom resides in New Zealand. Since 2012, the United States has been seeking his extradition to face a criminal prosecution arising from his involvement in the Megaupload group of companies. Presently, Mr Dotcom is on bail while he exercises (as he is entitled to) his rights under New Zealand law to resist extradition. Mr Dotcom emphatically denies the alleged offending and is committed to defending the allegations in the extradition proceeding in New Zealand.

5. Mr Dotcom is also committed to achieving an outcome where his evidence can be properly received and reviewed by you as part of the Investigation. You will, however, appreciate that, given his current status, he is not in a position to voluntarily leave New Zealand’s jurisdiction. Further, he is concerned that, should he travel to the United States voluntarily, he would be arrested and detained in custody on the current counts on which he has been indicted.

6. Accordingly, for Mr Dotcom to attend in person in the United States to make a statement, and/or give oral evidence at any subsequent hearing, special arrangements would need to be discussed and agreed between all relevant parties. Such arrangements would need to include arrangements for his safe passage from New Zealand and return. This is because Mr Dotcom is determined to clear his name in New Zealand.

7. Mr Dotcom invites the Department of Justice to contact him through counsel to progress the taking of his evidence once you have had an opportunity to consider this letter and are in a position to discuss the required process and appropriate safeguards.

8. We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, or require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours faithfully
ANDERSON CREAGH LAI LIMITED
Phil Creagh
Director

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1705/S00469/kim-dotcom-approaches-special-counsel.htm


There are other simpler options.

He could send his evidence.

A representative of the investigation could come to New Zealand to see Dotcom.

Or a representative of the US already in New Zealand could receive the evidence from Dotcom and pass it on.

It’s hard to know whether Dotcom genuinely has information that will help the inquiry, or if he is grandstanding, or if he is playing games with the US.

It’s possible that he wants to meet with people in the US to discuss his own extradition case to try and deal with that.

Regardless, one could easily be suspicious of his motivation – why would he want to help the investigation?

Would Dotcom be prepared to give the US evidence of everything he knows about hacking or otherwise obtaining information and what WikiLeaks does with it and why?

 

Macron hack dump on eve of French election

From Missy:


The French Presidential Election Campaigning officially finished at midnight Friday ahead of the second round voting tomorrow.

Last night several gigabytes of data – emails and documents – from Macron’s campaign was released online. Macron is accusing Russia for the hack and leak, the campaign are also claiming that some of the emails are faked. As it was done late last night, and Macron’s statement just before the midnight cut-off Le Pen is unable to comment on the leak.

There appears to be know evidence that it was Russia that hacked his campaign, it seems that it is just easy for Russia to be blamed, allegedly the spread of the information began with far right groups in the US and were picked up by Le Pen supporters.

Macron’s team have thought for a long time that Putin has been trying to mount a smear campaign against him via state media and has openly complained about it, RT have said they plan to sue Macron over the accusations. This is – in my opinion – a little hypocritical of Macron as he had no qualms about the EU using friendly media to mount a campaign against Le Pen, nor does he have a problem with the EU breaking protocol and opening supporting him over Le Pen.

The Telegraph: Russia blamed as Macron campaign blasts ‘massive hacking attack’ ahead of French presidential election

Clinton blames everything else and herself

Hillary Clinton, in a public interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Women for Women International summit in New York, took “absolute personal responsibility” for her loss in last year’s election and admits making mistakes, but still blames her loss on the unprecedented intervention of FBI head James Comey.

“I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had”.

“Did I make mistakes, oh my god, yes, you will read my confessions, my request for absolution. But the reason I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days.”

“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president”.

“I was on the way to winning until a combination of (FBI Director) Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off”.

“”The evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive, and so we overcame a lot in the campaign”.

Comey’s letter did impact significantly on the campaign and may well have swung it against Clinton, but that’s history – and it’s history that wouldn’t have happened if Clinton wasn’t such a flawed candidate with too much political baggage who ran a poor campaign.

Clinton also said she believed misogyny played a role in her defeat. It may have done but I don’t think that’s a major factor – balanced against that was repulsion at the revelations about Trump’s attitude to women.

Clinton also had a dig in advance at Trump.

“If he wants to tweet about me, then I am happy to be the diversion because we have a lot of things to worry about”.

“He should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote than doing some other things that would be important for the country.”

She suggested that if Trump launched a fusillade on Twitter, it would be “better than interfering in foreign affairs.”

She will have known that this will have annoyed Trump, and inevitably he responded via Twitter:

FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!

The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?

In some ways Trump’s campaign was great, it worked where it mattered most, but it was in other ways an awful campaign for an awful candidate.

As Stephen Collinson at CNN says: Clinton, Trump can’t stop airing their 2016 grievances

In a stunning interview Tuesday, Clinton, the former Democratic nominee, vented her still raw emotions and blazing bitterness over her defeat by Trump — pointing to Russia and FBI Chief James Comey as the key drivers of her loss.

Trump, for his part, rarely lets more than a few days go by without boasting about his outsider win. Then, remarkably for a victor, he disputes the result — claiming without evidence that millions of illegal voters handed Clinton a popular vote triumph.

The prospect of regurgitating the most bitter election on record must horrify Americans who were forced to live through it for roughly two years.

But given Clinton’s public anger over her loss and Trump’s unwillingness to move on, a long-range rhetorical rematch is inevitable, especially since Clinton has a book coming in the fall.

The President is extraordinarily touchy about the merest suggestion that his victory is not totally authentic. Clinton has now given her supporters, many of whom believe she was cheated out of breaking the highest, hardest glass ceiling in politics, even more reasons to view Trump as illegitimate.

And the President is unlikely to take a pass at Clinton’s unflattering description of his performance, including her renewal of her claim that he was unprepared for office.

As his tweets show he didn’t take a pass, but it’s sad that Clinton has let her bitterness boil over so publicly.

It’s rather ironic that a clash over one of the most powerful and important jobs in the world continues to be so petty and childish.

Both Clinton and Trump continue to remind the world how bad US democracy has become.