• LinkedIn's First TV Ad

    We'll see the first LinkedIn TV ad during this year's Oscars. The company decided to use a space theme for the commercial partly because of a successful NASA recruiting campaign on the platform. "We saw the astronaut as a universal symbol of the dream job and anchoring the campaign around that story would bring it to life," said Nick Bartle, vice president of marketing. With The Martian receiving nominations for best picture and best lead actor, the ad fits the awards ceremony well. 

    Bartle also explained the company's hope in producing the ad:

     "'You're Closer Than You Think' is LinkedIn's first-ever integrated marketing campaign and TV spot that's inspired by LinkedIn's vision to create economic opportunity for the global workforce. We want this to permeate in everything we do, including helping our members find jobs, learn from influential people, build their professional brand and connect with people who can make a difference in their path."

    The voice over, LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner, personalizes the ad with a story about his father. 

    Discussion Starters: 

    • Why do you think LinkedIn waited until now to produce a TV ad? 
    • What's your view of the ad? Is this the right audience, and do you find it effective?
  • SeaWorld Behaved Badly

    Seaworld-main-imageReaders of BizCom in the News know I have a keen interest in SeaWorld, particularly after the documentary Blackfish revealed poor treatment of orcas, which has caused trainer injuries and deaths. I wrote a short case, "SeaWorld's Response to Blackfish" (and corresponding assignment), and have had Samantha Berg, a former SeaWorld trainer profiled in the movie (and a Cornell Veterinary College graduate) guest speak in my Corporate Communication class. As a crisis communication situation, the entertainment company did horribly, offering little response as criticism on social media was mounting.

    Now SeaWorld executives admit to having employees pose as animal rights activists to understand their strategy. Desperate times lead to desperate measures. The company has suffered financially and, last week, announced changes at the executive level. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said, "The tawdry orca sideshows and despicable spying tactics are sinking SeaWorld's ship." 

    On its website, SeaWorld admitted the deception under a broader statement about security and risk management:

    During its earnings call today, SeaWorld announced that its Board of Directors is taking steps to strengthen the company’s security and risk management policies and controls. Following the completion of an investigation conducted by independent outside counsel, the Board has directed that the company’s management team end a practice in which certain employees posed as animal rights activists in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of company employees, customers, and animals in the face of credible threats that the company had received. The Board also has directed the company’s management team to strengthen oversight and controls to guide operations and security practices. SeaWorld has retained Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC to evaluate current controls and develop new policies and standards to ensure best practices company-wide.

    All personnel matters pertaining to those involved have been handled internally. That said, Mr. McComb remains an employee of SeaWorld, has returned to work at SeaWorld in a different department and is no longer on administrative leave.

    “We recognize the need to ensure that all of our security and other activities align with our core values and ethical standards. As always, the security and well-being of our employees, customers and animals remain at the forefront of our business practices,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

    The report contains confidential business information related to the company’s security practices. The company will not comment beyond this statement.

    Image source.

    Discussion Starters:

    • What should SeaWorld do now to try to protect what's left of its brand image?
    • Assess the statement above. How well does the company handle the admission?
  • Facebook's Reactions

    Today, Facebook finally rolled out its new Reactions, a broader array of symbols to complement the traditional "like" button. The six new emojis let us express more refined feelings, such as love, laughter, sadness, and anger, and they are animated.

    FB Reactions

    The selections took Facebook a while. After user testing, the company settled on these six winners and decided how to represent them on a page. Too many cluttered posts, but too few got lost. Instead, the three most common reactions to posts will appear below each.

    Quoted in Wired, Vyvyan Evans, a professor of linguistics at Bangor University said, "The stratospheric rise of emoji is essentially fulfilling the function of nonverbal cues in spoken communication." We miss, for example, facial expressions and gestures in Facebook posts and text messages, so emojis help us express our feelings.

    Chevrolet seems first out of the gate to use the new Reactions in an ad. In this commercial, the company tells us, "Chevrolet looked out into a sea of likes and thought the time was right to love. Introducing the new Chevy Malibu. Start Loving."

    Discussion Starters:

    • Do you love the new emojis, or do they make you sad or angry?
    • What downsides do see for Facebook to expand the options?
  • Uber Responds to Shooting Incident

    Uber is responding to a shooting incident with one of its drivers, who killed six people and wounded two in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The company's safety procedures are in question, but the incident had nothing to do with the shooter's role as an Uber driver, although this connection is how he's most identified in news reports. The company published the following short statement on its website.

    Uber statement

    In response to further questioning, Uber says the gunman passed its background checks, had no criminal record, and received customer ratings of 4.73 out of 5. He had been an Uber driver for almost a month and picked up more than 100 passengers.

    Under "Details on Safety" on its website, Uber describes its driver-checking process. One criticism is that fingerprinting isn't required, as it is for taxi and limousine drivers. Also, unlike taxi drivers, there is little interaction with others. The founder of an app that lets Uber and Lyft drivers chat said, "I think taxi drivers traditionally have had fleets and lots, so at the beginning of the shift, you will go, check in with a dispatcher, hang out, have a coffee with other taxi drivers and then go out — rather than this completely dispersed Uber network, where you don't have to go anywhere, you just turn on the app in your car and drive for eight hours and never talk to any other driver."

    But a member of Uber's Safety Advisory Board defending the company  practice: "As it stands right now, the system that Uber has is extremely safe, and the idea that simply by having someone look at someone that they could determine if they're about to have a psychotic episode is a faulty theory."

    This news comes soon after Uber settled a lawsuit about safety claims.

    Discussion Starters:

    • What's your view of the link between Uber and the shooting? Is it unfair to the company or about time its safety practices are revealed (or something else)?
    • How else, if at all, should Uber respond? What's the danger of responding too loudly in this case?
  • Yelp Manages Open Letter from Employee

    Yelp StoppelmanYelp is in the news for an employee's angry "open letter" about pay. She describes how she's suffering financially and blames the company for not paying a living wage.  

    The company issued this statement to Business Insider:

    We do not comment on personnel issues. However, we did agree with many of the points in Ms. Jane's post and we viewed it as her real, personal narrative about what it's like to live in the Bay Area. Most importantly, it's an important example of freedom of speech.

    We agree with her comments about the high costs of living in San Francisco, which is why we announced in December that we are expanding our Eat24 customer support team into our Phoenix office where will pay the same wage.

    Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman also responded on Twitter, shown here. As you see from tweet 3/5, the employee was fired, which didn't inspire goodwill.  

    The employee continued tweeting after her termination.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Should the employee have voiced her concerns in a different medium? Consider her goal, the ethics, and the result.
    • Read the employee's letter. How well does she convey her argument?
    • How well did Yelp handle the situation? What, if anything, should the company have done differently?
  • The Perfect Email Is 50 - 125 Words

    Email lengthThe email productivity company Boomerang researched which emails are most likely to get quick responses, and the winners are between 50 and 125 words. According to the study, "a 25-word email works about as well as a 2000-word one, with only a 44% chance of getting a response."

    By analyzing more than 5.3 million messages, Boomerang identified other features of successful emails. The company does acknowledge that these guidelines may not be best in every situation. Of course, your audience and the context always trump averages, but when in doubt...

    • Write at a third-grade reading level. Use simple words and short sentences. 
    • Use a tone that's slightly negative or positive, rather than neutral. 
    • Use 3- or 4-word subject lines.
    • Include 1-to-3 questions for a 50% higher response rate.
    • Send your email early in the morning or during lunch. 

    The company experimented with interesting versions of emails for dating and criticism. See whether you can guess which were most successful. 

    Boomerang can be useful in managing messages. You can schedule when emails go out and receive reminders from the software.  

    Discussion Starters: 

    • How does this research match your own experience? Does anything surprise you? 
    • How would emails to your manager, for example, differ from these guidelines? 
  • More Homes People Can't Afford

    Did we not learn our lesson from the 2007 - 2008 financial crisis? A new "opportunity" exists for people with low-incomes to own a home, but of course, it comes will some big catches. 

    Investors bought dozes of vacant, dilapidated homes around the country and are selling them with a "contract for deed, or land contract." These include high-interest loans, which are difficult to pay as is, but pile on the need to fix major problems like mold, plumbing, and electric, and people are likely to default. One homeowner, who lives on a disability check, said, "It’s like one thing after another is falling apart." 

    No surprise, the Akron, Ohio, housing administrator said that firms are targeting people "who do not have the financial ability to comply, nor the savvy to realize that they are being taken advantage of."

    The contracts are a confusing mess. One posted on The New York Times' website is 109 pages long. 

    Land Contract

    Sadly, this reminds me of a scene in The Jungle.

    Discussion Starters:  

    • What lessons should we have learned from the financial crisis?
    • What are the communication responsibilities and barriers in these situation? Identify both for the investors and buyers. 


  • Uber Pays $28M and Adjusts Safety Language

    Uber has settled two lawsuits claiming the company misled consumers about safety. Charging a $2.30 fee, Uber promised to do background checks of its drivers, but the company failed to do the type of fingerprinting required for taxi drivers.

    As part of the settlement, Uber will change some language in its promotions: the "Safe Ride Fee" will now be called a "Booking Fee."

    In a statement, Uber reinforces its rationale for assuring passengers of safety but admits, "no means of transportation can ever be 100 percent safe. Accidents and incidents do happen." 

    Uber settlement

    Discussion Starters:

    • How, if at all, will the language change and financial settlement affect passengers? 
    • How well does Uber explain the settlement? Of course, the company tries to spin the news positively. Does it succeed? 
  • Nike Ends Relationship with Manny Pacquiao

    Manny PacquiaoBoxer Manny Pacquiao made derogatory comments about same-sex couples and lost his eight-year endorsement deal with Nike. On a Filipino television program, Pacquiao said. "If you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relationships], then people are worse than animals." He was explaining why he opposed same-sex marriage. 

    Nike issued this statement: "We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community." 

    In a video posted on Twitter and Instagram, Pacquiao apologized. 

    According to ESPN, Pacquiao has a history of anti-gay sentiment: 

    This week wasn't the first time Pacquiao has been involved in a furor over gay rights. In 2012 he was quoted as saying he was against same-sex marriage because "it's the law of God," though he denied implying that homosexuals should be put to death.

    Discussion Starters: 

    • Assess Pacquiao's video: do you find his statement and body language convincing? 
    • Did Nike do the right thing? Discuss pros and cons of the decision. 
  • Apples Fights FBI's Demands

    Apple Letter to CustomersThis is a pivotal moment in privacy for the country. Apple is under pressure from the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Justice Department for access to phones belonging to shooters who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, late last year.

    Tensions are high in this situation. The Justice Department said, "It is unfortunate that Apple continues to refuse to assist the department in obtaining access to the phone of one of the terrorists involved in a major terror attack on U.S. soil."

    But Apple and civil liberties organizations argue that this could set a bad precedent against consumer privacy. The company would need to develop new technology that could be used in other situations. In a statement, CEO Tim Cook said, "The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices."

    A message to customers on Apple's website further explains the company's position:

    The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

    The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge. 

    Discussion Starters:

    • What's your view? Should Apple meet the government's demands? What are the most convincing arguments on both sides?
    • Read Cook's entire message to customers. How does he balance logical arguments, emotional appeal, and credibility?



  • Another IRS Data Breach

    This is the second time the IRS has experienced a data breach. Hackers used social security information to create PINs for E-filing, which could allow them to capture tax refunds for 101,000 people.  

    In a statement posted on its website, the IRS tries to deflect the issue: "Using personal data stolen elsewhere outside the IRS..."

     IRS Statement

    Last year, hackers made away with $50 million in refund money. A federal investigative report concluded: "The Return Review Program Enhances the Identification of Fraud; However, System Security Needs Improvement." 

    Discussion Starters: 

    • How well does the IRS statement rebuild taxpayer confidence? 
    • Read the 2015 report. Which principles from Chapter 10 are followed? Based on the report, should the IRS have done more in the past year? 
  • How to Communicate with College Applicants

    College App CommsA new survey could help college admissions officers reach applicants. A Chronicle of Higher Education article describes the results as "complicated," but I think most students would say they make perfect sense. Students want to receive texts for timely information, such as application deadlines and events, but they don't want general information blasts. Students are also open to one-on-one texts with admissions counselors. 

    Differences among students may show their willingness for assistance. First-generation, low-income, and underrepresented minority students were more open to receiving texts. 

    When asked which communication channels were helpful, students rated letters 46%, emails 65%, and the college website 52%.  

    Image source.

    Discussion Starters: 

    • What about the survey results, if anything, surprises you? 
    • How do you think the results may have changed in the past 5 years? 10 years? 
    • What should admissions officers do with this information? 
    • How well does this work as an infographic? Compare the image to principles in Chapter 9.
  • More Takata Recalls

    Mercedes carParent company Daimler is recalling 840,000 vehicles, including 705,000 Mercedes-Benz cars. The statement title downplays the issue and blames Takata: 

    "Daimler recalls approximately 840,000 vehicles in the United States as a precautionary measure due to potentially defective airbag models from manufacturer Takata"

    In its statement, the company gives expenses data and assures us that the financial impact is minimal:

    "Daimler AG points out that both the dividend proposal and the employees’ profit participation for the successful year 2015 as well as the earnings expected for financial year 2016 remain unchanged." 

    Daimler's positioning works well for the audience, and blaming Takata is a good move. The supplier is already in big trouble, with testimony from an engineer that the company hid airbag problems by changing test data and hiding parts, all while executives assured safety. During the deposition, the employee said, "'I had the data, but I wanted to go look for those parts. But when I went to look for the parts, because some of the parts had come apart, they were no longer available. They had been discarded.''

    Ten deaths have been reported because of failing Takata airbags. In addition to Daimler, Honda, GM, Toyota, Volkswagen, Ford, and other vehicles have been recalled totaling about 24 million—so far.

    Image source.

    Discussion Starters: 

    • Assess Daimler's statement about the recalls. Who are the primary and secondary audiences, and how well does the company address each? 
    • Research Takata and look for current news. What's your prediction for the company and its executive team? 
  • Marriott Movie Is a Big Hit

    With 3.6 million views and counting, Marriott's movie short, "Two Bellman Two," is a testament to engaging audiences with innovative content. According to Skift, this second Marriott movie tops the first, which was shot within one LA property. This one targets the luxury traveler and sells the destination: 

    "In Dubai, Marriott is now emphasizing the destination to sell the hotel by highlighting the wide panoramic vistas across the desert and sea, along with scenes of various tourist activities ranging from sand dune surfing to water jetpacking."

    According to Skift, "All in all, Marriott has developed something with this movie franchise that transcends all of that. They have created two winning brand identities that establish JW Marriott in an entirely different consumer market landscape."

    The movie site is about about the movies; we see no promotional information or links to Marriott properties at all. 

    Marriott Content Studio is behind the innovative films. A look inside the company shows a central control center, M Live, with "nine screens, showing everything from the social media campaigns of Marriott’s 19 brands to real-time booking information to Marriott’s editorial calendar." Swivel seats are for different departments within the company. According to David Beebe, Marriott’s Emmy-winning vice president of global creative, 

    "This is a tool for everybody to use in the building. It’s customer-first thinking. That’s why a lot of brands can’t achieve what we’re doing. They think, ‘I can’t do that because someone over there is not going to like it.’ It gets very internal-political."

    Discussion Starters: 

    • What are the potential downsides of a company venturing into this type of creative marketing? 
    • Read more about the Content Studio and the analytics: how is the company measuring success? 
  • Madeleine Albright Explains Controversial Comment

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a comment about women during the New Hampshire primary that was not appreciated. To show her support for Hillary Clinton after she lost to Bernie Sanders, Albright said, "We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” 

    Gloria Steinem, a leader of the feminist movement also got in hot water when interviewed by Bill Maher. The New York Times reports

    “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’ ” Ms. Steinem said.

    Realizing that this was potentially offensive, Mr. Maher recoiled. “Oh. Now if I said that, ‘They’re for Bernie because that’s where the boys are,’ you’d swat me.”

    But Ms. Steinem laughed it off, replying, “How well do you know me

    Albright wrote an op-ed for The New York Times to apologize and further explain her comment: "I HAVE spent much of my career as a diplomat. It is an occupation in which words and context matter a great deal. So one might assume I know better than to tell a large number of women to go to hell." She went on to explain the excitement of the moment, some history, and her view of having a female president: 

    "The battle for gender equality is still being waged, and it will be easier if we have a woman who prioritizes these issues in the Oval Office and if the gender balance among elected officials reflects that of our country. When women are empowered to make decisions, society benefits. They will raise issues, pass bills and put money into projects that men might overlook or oppose."

    Discussion Starters: 

    • What's your reaction to both comments? Do you find them offensive? 
    • Read Albright's op-ed. How well does she explain herself and apologize? She doesn't say "I'm sorry" or "I apologize."  
  • Chipotle Practices Transparency

    Chipotle meeting tweetChipotle is working hard to improve its food safety procedures and its image. After several reported E. coli outbreaks, the company announced a four-hour closing of its 1,900 stores to retrain its employees. The meeting was live-tweeted via @ChipotleTweets.

    Chipotle also announced a local grower initiative to help farmers meet the company's new food safety demands, which can be tough on small farmers. The initiative includes education and training, financial assistance, and opportunities for add new farmers with greenhouses and other technologies.

    In a fully developed section of its website, Chipotle outlines new plans for food safety for suppliers and in restaurants.

    The good news for Chipotle is that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared the outbreak over as of February 1. Chipotle CEO Steve Ells is, of course, confident about a comeback, but he's not alone. Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti expressed his confidence in the company's future as have analysts such as Darren Tristano, executive vice president of industry research firm Technomic: "Consumers have a surprisingly short memory. I would be surprised if it's still affecting them by mid-next year."

    Discussion Starters:

    • How do you assess Chipotle's messaging? Analyze its website and social media presence. Consider the audience analysis, communication objectives, messaging, organization, tone, and so on. 
    • What's your prediction for Chipotle's future?
  • In Tightening Race, Arguments About Wall Street

    Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated last night in an elevated argument about policies and finances. In January, for the first time, the Sanders campaign raised more than Clinton's, which her finance director said was, "a very loud wake-up call." Clinton also won the Iowa caucus, but by a small margin. As a result, the tone of the debate changed.

    In this clip, the reporter asks about Clinton's record, and Sanders avoids the question to discuss his view on "big banks."

    As Sanders campaigns for equity, he shuns contributions from financial services companies: "I am very proud to be the only candidate up here who does not have super PAC, who's not raising huge sums from Wall Street and special interests." He questioned Clinton's contributions from companies, such as Goldman Sachs, which paid her $675,000 for three speeches, and gave examples of inequity:

    He said that when a "kid gets caught with marijuana, that kid has a police record." But when "a Wall Street executive destroys the economy" and pays a $5 billion settlement, he has no criminal record.

    Wall Street has been a popular topic on both the Republican and Democratic campaigns. Ted Cruz was recently criticized for accepting money from Goldman Sachs without disclosing it.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Assess the candidates' arguments about Wall Street. What's your opinion on the power of Wall Street?
    • Who do you think won the debate? What were the highlights?  
  • "Why I Left My Sorority" Video

    The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Alex Purdy, a student at Syracuse University who posted a video, "Why I Left My Sorority." Purdy explains her decision without calling out her particular sorority, but gives some damning examples, such as sisters "body shaming" other sisters. She says the biggest problem is "the overwhelming lack of compassion for one another." Purdy is also careful to say that this reflects only her experience and may not represent all sororities.

    In the interview, Purdy says she worked on the video for more than six months and had been worried about how people would react. Since then, the video, with the hashtag #sororityrevamp, has received more than 100,000 views, and Purdy has appeared on the Today show.

    Most Twitter comments are positive, complimenting Purdy for raising the conversation. Some expressed gratitude for their own sorority, which they say is a kind, compassionate place.

    Dani Weatherford, executive director of the National Panhellenic Conference, provided this statement for The Washington Post:

    We share in Alex’s call for a thoughtful dialogue regarding how to best shape the modern sorority experience. Our member organizations set high standards, and a conversation about living up to them is one that we always welcome.

    We also know that for millions of women, sorority membership has been and continues to be transformational and life-changing. We know from research that sorority women are not only more likely to graduate, but to graduate on time and to report a positive sense of engagement in their personal and professional lives.

    For us, Alex’s story is a reminder that our work must continue as we seek to enhance a sorority experience more than 100 years strong that’s rooted in creating opportunities for service, leadership and scholarship. 

    Discussion Starters:

    • What examples do you hear of logical argument, emotional appeal, and credibility?
    • How does she organize the video? Do you find this structure helpful to her argument, or does it detract from her points?
    • How do you assess Purdy's own credibility? What makes her credible, and what might diminish her credibility?
  • Trump's Reaction to the Iowa Caucus

    In the Iowa caucus, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lost to Senator Ted Cruz after having a consistent lead in the polls, but he's still confident about winning the election. Analysts say his infrequent visits to Iowa and lack of campaign organizing may have hurt him. He also skipped the most recent Republican debate because of a quarrel with Fox reporter Megyn Kelly, which didn't help.

    But Trump says, "I don’t feel any pressure. We’ll do what I have to do." He also said he's "honored" to finish second.

    Trump's Tweets

    His tone did change in this video: he seems just a little humbled, and he compliments his opponents, which is quite different from his previous approach. The New York Times compiled "Donald Trump's Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far)."

    Last week, Trump made headlines after Sarah Palin endorsed him, with her usual, grammatically questionable style, for example,

    "When both parties, the machines involved, when both of them hate you, then you know America loves you and we do love he who will be the next president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump!"

    Discussion Starters:

    • Compare this video to Trump's previous speeches. Do you notice a difference in tone? What indicates a change?
    • What's your view of Trump's tweets? Is this a good political strategy, or will it eventually backfire?
  • University President: "Drown the Bunnies"

    Board of TrusteesIn yet another case of an email plaguing a leader, Simon Newman, president of Mount St. Mary’s U. of Maryland, says his words were taken out of context. The president announced an objective to retain freshmen: "My short-term goal is to have 20-25 people leave by the 25th. This one thing will boost our retention 4-5%. A larger committee or group needs to work on the details, but I think you get the objective."

    Although this sounds harsh, an assistant professor of history recalled a conversation with Newman saying something worse: "This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads."

    On the face of it, we can understand Newman's intent: to improve the university's 75% retention rate and reduce the current loss of 70 students after their first semester at school. Newman wants to catch students who will likely fail as early as possible—perhaps in time to get a tuition refund: "It’s moral to at least have the conversation and say, You know, you can get all of your money back if this isn’t the place for you. I’d rather you be happy." The university also has programs in place to check up on students who, for example, miss classes, and try to support them. Longer term, the university is trying to get out of debt and wants to increase its admission standards. 

    Despite the controversy, in a letter, the university's board of trustees supports the president and condemns faculty and alumni working against him. The board also passed "a unanimous resolution of full confidence."

    Discussion Starters:

    • One issue is how the student paper, The Mountain Echo, handled the story. Read more about this in The Chronicle article and discuss your perspective.
    • Assess the board of trustees' letter. How well does it support the president and put the issue to rest?
  • 22 Clinton Emails Under Scrutiny


    Hillary Clinton has more email trouble: 22 messages on her private server while she was working for the State Department have been identified as "top secret" and won't be released to the public. The Clinton campaign says the emails weren't classified at the time and that the issue "appears to be over-classification run amok." This has been her defense for using a private server for these messages, which she also admitted was a mistake.

    The timing, just days before the Iowa caucus, is unfortunate. Republican candidates are using the news to their advantage, although Bernie Sanders is still leaving it alone. As he said in a debate back in October, "Enough of the emails. Let's talk about the real issues facing America." 

    NPR describes other messages that were released recently: discussions of an upcoming presidential speech, observations about Joe Biden, support for her testimony about Benghazi, and issues with the press. From NPR's excerpts, we get a sense of Clinton's work style and personality.  

    Discussion Starters: 

    • Should Clinton say more about this new group of emails? If so, what? 
    • Now that the Democratic primary is getting close, should Bernie Sanders use this news to his advantage? What are the advantages and downsides of doing so?