Never let anyone tell you memes don’t matter. That famous image of Hillary Clinton looking chill with her Blackberry actually prompted a government official to inquire about the status of her State Department email account. No one listened, and here we are now.
In a deposition this week, State Department official Karin Lang revealed some new details about the photo’s wacky history. Lang testified that the government knew that Clinton didn’t plan to use her official email address back in 2008 or 2009. Then the photo of Hillary wearing sunglasses and looking at her phone appeared in late 2011, and Clarence Finney from the office that handles FOIA requests got curious.
“When Mrs. Clinton’s photo appeared in the media with her using appearing to use some sort of a mobile device, Clarence Finney checked with [information management staff] to confirm... whether the answer was still that she did not have a State.gov e-mail account,” Lang said in her testimony.
Well, the inquiry didn’t go very far at the time, but the photo went viral in 2012. It spawned a dedicated Tumblr called “Texts from Hillary,” a blog post from Hillary herself, a Maureen Dowd column, a tweet from Questlove, and many LOLs all around. However, we now know that the photo raised some concern about her secretive email habits years before the controversy and FBI probe and endless discussion. Just yesterday, Donald Trump referred to the email conspiracy after Hillary’s “delete your account” burn. (To be fair, though, everyone has been referring to the email conspiracy.)
Again, according to Lang’s testimony this week at the Justice Department, Finney was “told at the outset” that Hillary wouldn’t use an official email account. And then Finney followed up when he saw the now iconic photo. But imagine an alternate universe where Finney’s inquiry had been taken more seriously. Hillary had been using that private server for a while by 2011, but that’s still years of secret emails that could have been avoided. Instead, all we got was this amazing meme.