Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
I know, I know, your favorite topic right? But hear me out, I’m not here to bash or defend the madame secretary.
The thing is we now know a lot more about the inner thoughts and private communication of Hillary Clinton than any of us ever wanted to know. And, in addition, we know the private thoughts of anyone she was emailing at any given time.
Most of those tens of thousands of emails were filled with the mundane daily business of running the State Department. But a small percentage weren’t. Some were catty, while others were embarrassing.
A sampling from Politico:
• In a June 2009 email with the subject line “No WH mtg,” Hillary Clinton wrote “I arrived for the 10:15 mtg and was told there was no mtg. Matt said they had ‘released’ the time. This is the second time this has happened. What’s up???”
• After receiving an email from her aide Cheryl Mills with the subject line “axelrod wants your email - remind me to discuss with you if i forget,” Clinton did not respond enthusiastically to the prospect of one of Obama’s top advisors receiving her contact info. “Can you send to him or do you want me to?” Clinton wrote. “Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours.”
• The secretary of state had an epic battle with the office technology in December 2009. Clinton struggled in an email exchange with aide Huma Abedin to figure out how to establish the fax line. “I thought it was supposed to be off hook to work?” Clinton puzzled.
• After failing to schedule a late-night phone call with her campaign manager John Podesta and rescheduling for the following morning, Hillary Clinton offered the longtime ally a piece of advice before going to bed: “Please wear socks to bed to keep your feet warm.”
Pretty scintillating stuff, right? I’m not sure NBC will be building a Movie of the Week around this content anytime soon.
Mostly it’s boring and embarrassing, and sometimes it's both. It’s confirmation that personal and private thoughts should be kept personal and private.
Alas, this is not the age in which we live. Technology gives us the capability to spread our private thoughts far and wide with ease. It also means you lose control of those thoughts.
The financial services industry is known for caution in these matters. Compliance departments are rarely eager to cut loose with a bold social media plan. I talked with a couple media reps for a major carrier recently who said their compliance department starts off with a “No” to nearly everything.
So it’s not surprising that some of the top Wall Street execs either don’t email or have learned the art of emailing without saying anything. Prosecutors have built insider trading, mortgage fraud and rate-rigging cases on embarrassing emails over the past several years.
Reuters reported last week that JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon uses email but is known to keep his replies short and factual, favoring "yes," "no" and "thank you."
"Since the financial crisis, executives really have to be prepared for anything they say to potentially end up on the front page of The New York Times,” said Virginia Healy-Tangney, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management who focuses on managerial communication.
That makes a lot of sense. Or as a wise editor once told me, “Don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t say to someone out loud.”
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected].
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