Alan Dershowitz had an interesting take on the Ivanka email flap when he appeared on Fox yesterday.
"It's hypocrisy on parade," the liberal lawyer said of Ivanka Trump's team for defending her use of a private email address for some government-related correspondence after her dad had trashed Hillary Clinton on that issue.
But the Hillary supporter, who has regularly defended President Trump during the Mueller investigation, also said that everyone uses private email and that Ivanka's practice was "a non-issue."
This was, to be sure, a misstep on her part. It is also, to be sure, not that big a deal. But the media have loved the controversy since it was disclosed by The Washington Post.
Before diving into the similarities and differences in practice between the former first lady and the presidential daughter, let's acknowledge the game here. Each side pounces on blunders by the other team and tries to blow them up into massive scandals, just as each side minimizes questionable conduct by its partisans as innocent mistakes.
As for the media, MSNBC and CNN seemed like they were running the Ivanka story every few minutes or so, while Mediaite noted that it was only a brief item on "Fox & Friends." "Why Does This Administration Think The Rules Don’t Apply to Them?" blared an MSNBC headline.
According to the Post, Ivanka "sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules." She began the practice in the early months of 2017 before she had joined the White House as a senior adviser.
But Ivanka Trump "used her personal account to discuss government policies and official business fewer than 100 times — often replying to other administration officials who contacted her through her private email."
She used an address she shared with her husband Jared Kushner, who got dinged some time ago for his own private use of the email account for government business.
A statement from her attorney's firm says that "while transitioning into government, after she was given an official account but until the White House provided her the same guidance they had given others who started before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her personal account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family."
The statement noted some key differences with Hillary Clinton:
"Ms. Trump did not create a private server in her house or office, no classified information was ever included, the account was never transferred at Trump Organization, and no emails were ever deleted."
So there's a huge difference in scope. Clinton created a private server for the express purpose of shielding her correspondence when she was secretary of State, used it for four full years, and famously deleted 33,000 emails she said were personal. An FBI investigation found that despite her denials, 110 emails did contain classified information (though some was classified after the fact).
The president, at a media availability, called the story, yes, "fake news."
His daughter's emails, he said, "weren’t classified like Hillary Clinton. They weren't deleted like Hillary Clinton, who deleted 33,000. She wasn't doing anything to hide her emails. I looked at it just very briefly today and the presidential records — they're all in presidential records. There was no hiding."
Many Democrats, and Hillary herself, believe the press wildly overplayed her email scandal. But keep in mind that she tried to dismiss it as irrelevant after The New York Times broke the story, it took her weeks to make a full-throated apology and she made claims (such as the one about classified info) that turned out to be untrue. Also, she was running for president.
And yet, with some people at Trump rallies still chanting "lock her up," this remains a sensitive issue.
That's why, understandably, there's widespread press skepticism of Ivanka's explanation, as reported by the Post, that "she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction."
But it’s just as true that those who felt Hillary got hosed by Jim Comey over her email mess are using the Ivanka revelation, in the time-honored tradition of politics, as payback. Some House Democrats, you'll be shocked to hear, are already planning an investigation.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author “Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press and the War Over the Truth.” Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.