Clinton confidant Lanny Davis flips out on MSNBC over Hillary emails

The feisty Lanny Davis wants to defend Hillary Clinton on TV... but is that really what Hillary Clinton needs?

Published March 6, 2015 8:19PM (EST)

Lanny Davis          (Simon & Schuster)
Lanny Davis (Simon & Schuster)

One case for Hillary Clinton launching her presidential campaign sooner rather than later is that it would give her more centralized control over her media strategy. It's never been a more compelling argument than this week, as stories about her conducting State Department business through her private email have come out in the New York Times, the Associated Press, and elsewhere.

As Salon's Simon Maloy wrote this week, the story is somewhere between the full-blown scandal that has pundits declaring her campaign over before it even started and the total non-story that her most loyal defenders would have you believe. But instead of her own, professional campaign team going on television to make their arguments like adults, we're mostly seeing attention-hungry Clinton orbiters like Lanny Davis and David Brock eating up cable news slots. These are well-known spinsters whom no one trusts, and endear precisely zero people to Hillary Clinton.

Davis appeared on MSNBC this morning alongside MSNBC's Clinton reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, and it went about as predicted: Ugly. Seitz-Wald chimed in briefly at the beginning before Davis took over and to talk about the FACTS instead of SPECULATION. By "speculation" he means any legitimate, difficult question that he'd prefer not to answer. He gets mad at Tamron Hall for taking a "jab" at him even though she does no such thing. His performance would be considered bullying if it wasn't so comical. A brief excerpt of the meltdown, via Real Clear Politics:

HALL: I'll tell you this, people will say you're deflecting on Alex and his accurate reporting at this point. He hasn't reported anything that is untrue, he is following the story, traveling to Miami, and others will say you're deflecting to Jeb Bush. I want to read what Associated Press put here.

DAVIS: Deflecting?

HALL (reading from Associated Press article): This is what makes what Clinton did both sneaky and some say genius... if you want a complete record of Clinton's electronic correspondence while she was helping to decide matters of war and peace, you'd have to knock on her door and ask politely. Or take her to court.

HALL: And that speaks to a little of what you were saying regarding her being an attorney. With that said, she may well run for office where we know transparency matters.

DAVIS: Do you mind if I respond to what I think was a little jab at me.

HALL: No, no. It wasn't a jab, I would have told you. I am saying this is what people will say, because you have my correspondent, my colleague Alex on, you're pointing to his reporting and you brought up Jeb Bush when I clearly asked the question simply I think what do you believe or why do you believe she's behind this story responding only so far through Twitter.

DAVIS: So two things I would really like to respond to. I am not criticizing Alex one iota. But I am saying accurately, Alex will not disagree, he is reporting speculative, not facts, what we don't know. Secondly, I am not deflecting. Jeb Bush is a fine man, what he did was nothing wrong. I am saying there's a double standard in media coverage where we are not pointing out that there's precedent for what Hillary Clinton did, whether it is a governor or whether it is Secretary of State Powell, that's all.

HALL: Well, Secretary of State Powell did not control his own home server. We know that.

DAVIS: Excuse me, Governor Bush did. When you make these distinctions, you're in argument now, not doing facts. You want to argue with me, that's your right as host of a program, but you just made a distinction --

HALL: I am not a host of a show that argues. I ask questions.

DAVIS: Then why not talk about Jeb Bush having a home server? Why did you omit that?

HALL: And we have discussed what you referred to as the document dump by Jeb Bush as well, but we had you on as a guest to discuss this.

DAVIS: Excuse me, it was not a document dump. Excuse me, it was a partial release. It was not a document dump. That's false. His press secretary said that, you guys reported it. He released a portion. He did not release his personal.

You can watch the segment below. It's a great illustration for why Hillary Clinton should get her campaign up and running, with its first rule being that Lanny Davis does not get to go on television.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

MORE FROM Jim Newell

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