Reality Check: “Working families like mine don't give a damn about Hillary's emails”

By Peter Daou and Tom Watson

While the media and commentariat assail Hillary Clinton’s character by seizing on abstruse details of email servers and classification disputes, there are millions of Americans who don’t give a damn about her emails and who worry about paying their bills and caring for their families. Millions of those Americans love and support Hillary.

Following are three stories from among millions that illustrate how Hillary inspires her supporters.

First, self-described Hillary Man Fergal Murphy, who sent us this moving letter:

Working families like mine don't give a damn about Hillary Clinton’s emails. We're struggling to get by. My wife lost her job with a non-profit last month when their grant funding dried up. I bust my back 40+ hours a week at a lumber yard. We’re getting by on one paycheck and we have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed. I want to hear about the ISSUES – plans to create good paying jobs with health benefits. Paid leave. Work schedules I can rely upon.  

My 14 year old daughter is a great writer - clever - creative - but we have zero $$ saved for her and my son's education.   

I have a bright, sweet 12 year old son who was born with developmental delays – he didn’t sit up until he was 13 months old or walk until he was 2. By the time he was 18 months old he was getting help from physical and speech therapists, and he got 3 years of special ed preschool.    

There was a time when my sweet son would never have gotten a proper education. Now he’s in 7th grade and making honor roll. He’ll earn his high school diploma, maybe even go to college some day because Hillary fought to pass laws that required schools to accommodate his special needs. Thanks to Hillary, he got the early intervention that was so vital to his early development.  

These two pictures are from my son’s special ed preschool graduation – they represent Hillary’s hard work on behalf of kids like my son. One before Hillary took up this fight. The other after she got to work.

fergal 2.jpg

My wife got the chance to meet Hillary at an event recently. She told her our son’s story. Hillary probably hears thousands of these stories, but my wife could tell she was deeply moved. During her comments later, she looked my wife straight in the eye as she mentioned the importance of early childhood education. This lady “gets it!” 

Hillary connects with working families like ours every single day. She has a deep understanding of what keeps us awake at night with worry and is fighting to make our lives a little bit easier. She started fighting for our kids 30 years before they were even born – that’s why we’re fighting for her now.

Next, Keith F. Thompson, who recently posted this touching note on Facebook:

Quite the roller coaster today. 

I'm not usually the one who asserts himself, but when Secretary Clinton came to shake my hand, I held it for a moment and thanked her for speaking out about support for caregivers. She has been LISTENING to people, and she has spoken about this issue a couple of times already. 

So, I waded right in. I told her of the challenge of taking care of Mom, keeping her safe, and working part time to be able to be with her. 

Then I told her that, in order to keep Mom safe, I take her to work with me. Her compassion and sympathy was amazing, and she welled up with tears. That, of course, got me going. 

She wasn't just listening. As I explained the challenges of caring for Mom, Secretary Clinton was actually finishing my thoughts. She was right there with me. 

I saw her speak with others just as intently. All this, less than half an hour before she gave the most important speech of the campaign so far. 

So we all head back to the convention floor all bubbly and light-headed, and we had a short wait for her speech. I know Chris Papas spoke, but I was too excited to pay much attention. 

The crowd roared as Secretary Clinton was introduced, and she gave one of the best speeches I have heard. Then amazingly, she reached the part of the speech where she quietly talks about the challenges facing ordinary Americans, and there, right on the spot, she adjusts her speech to include me! If you see a clip from the speech where she says she just met with a young man backstage who had to take a part time job to allow him to care for his mother, that's me. (And she called me a YOUNG man. That will win my vote all over again!) 

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. 

If Hillary Clinton weren't already my candidate, she would be now.

  "BTW, that's me, fighting back tears. I was doing fine, until I saw the tears in her eyes. THAT got me more than anything."

"BTW, that's me, fighting back tears. I was doing fine, until I saw the tears in her eyes. THAT got me more than anything."

Finally, Marquis Boston, who we’ve dubbed the “ultimate HillaryMan.”

Boston, a 34-year-old, Little Rock native, budgeted and saved up, cutting back on things like groceries and haircuts over the past year so he could make the $1,000 donation to Clinton's campaign. 

"I just had to kind of think of a way to make it happen, and so I just said, ‘Well I need to just start budgeting,’” the former janitor, who now works a day job as a collections agent and a night job as a switchboard operator, said in an interview with ABC News in July. 

After reading his story, Clinton invited Boston to her fundraiser on Monday. 

(He was so excited about it that he drove by the house where the fundraiser was being held the day before the event just to make sure he knew how to get there.) 

Following the fundraiser, Boston told ABC News about the moment he met Clinton, who, he said, recognized him immediately. 

"I went to shake her hand and started to say 'Secretary Clinton' and she just yelled out 'Marquis!' he said. 

Clinton then thanked Boston for his donation and told him how his story made her "smile." 

"I told her that when things get hard on the campaign trail, she should always think about that story to remind her that there are people out there supporting her and cheering for her,” Boston said.

Perhaps the most absurd anti-Hillary talking point (and among the most common) relates to her compassion and humanity. How often do we hear that Hillary is “cold,” “robotic” and “inauthentic” and that she doesn’t inspire people?

Judging from the stories above and countless others like them, that talking point is a total farce. Sure, half a billion conservative dollars can buy a lot of negative talking points, but no candidate could lead twenty others in a presidential race without inspiring people.

Let the media and commentariat hammer away at the email story. As Josh Marshall writes:

It's worth stopping now and then and taking a look at just how nonsensical most of the coverage of the story is at this point. Beside the point that the relevant Inspector General has said that none of the stuff the DC press corps has been hyperventilating about can, by definition, have violated any law, you also have stories like this new one today from Bloomberg. 

The Bloomberg story, like so many others in the genre, presents an incremental so-called development as deeply portentous, with grave warnings that others may decide this represents more bad news for Hillary. 

When reporters produce numerous stories all of which suggest wrongdoing or dishonesty, people's impression of you will suffer. And there's no question it has. But every once in a while, it's worth returning to planet Earth and dissecting what these stories actually contain. In this case, good lord. Not much.

Buried in yet another New York Times story about Hillary’s emails today is this:

There is no evidence that any of the emails — a small portion of some 60,000 that Mrs. Clinton sent or received as secretary of state — were hacked or caused any harm to American interests, and law enforcement officials have said she is not a target of their investigation.

It's long past time for the email-obsessed media (click this link if you think "obsessed" is an exageration) to refocus on what really matters in this election.


Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.