Hillary Clinton Email

The previously private messages highlight Team Clinton’s focus on her image and press coverage.

Jennifer Epstein
Ben Brody
Jun 30, 2015 – 6:29 PM PDT

When she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton and her staff fretted over her press coverage, celebrating favorable stories and trying to tone down others, some 3,000 e-mails released late Tuesday by the State Department showed.

Now the Democratic presidential front-runner, Clinton kept a close eye on her public image from her earliest days as a member of the Obama administration. “How’s it playing?” she wrote to her longtime communications aide, Philippe Reines, after one press conference.

On May 1, 2009, Reines and chief of staff Cheryl Mills exchanged e-mails over concerns about how a New York Times takeout on Clinton’s early months at State depicted her views of then-national security adviser General James Jones. Reines said Clinton was “understandably upset” with a section of the story that cited people “in her circle” saying “less-than-generous things” about Jones. He told Mills he was able to persuade the reporter to change the story.

Other e-mails featured aides passing on press releases and news stories that cited the then-secretary of state favorably, and show journalists bargaining for interviews. Clinton’s aides also monitored the State Department’s social media, even if they did not have the lingo exactly correct. After a Newsweek article that called Clinton tweets “dry,” Mills wrote to a Clinton tech adviser, Alec Ross: “We should not be twittering in the Secretary’s name since she is not the person actually twittering.”

The e-mails, which the department posted to its website Tuesday just before 9 p.m. Washington time, were the first to be released under the terms of a U.S. District Court ruling, made in response to a Freedom of Information Act suit, that requires the State Department to publish portions of Clinton’s approximately 55,000 pages of e-mails monthly.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks at her mobile phone after attending a Russia-U.S. meeting on the sidelines of the 43rd annual Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Hanoi on July 23, 2010.

Clinton used private e-mail addresses and a private e-mail server to conduct government business while serving as secretary of state from early 2009 to early 2013. She only submitted her correspondence to the department to comply with open-records laws last December. Up until now, the only e-mails that had been released were some 300 concerning Libya, which were handed over to a congressional committee investigating the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi.

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