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Hillary Clinton: 'I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that's not why I lost'

CNBC logo CNBC 1/06/2017 Anita Balakrishnan

"Weaponised information" was one of the key factors that swung the U.S. election, former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

Clinton spoke from the annual Code Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California.

The former first lady, who also served in the U.S. Senate, has been exploring her role as a citizen since losing November's election to Donald Trump. And Clinton has also been concerned about tech threats, like alleged Russian hackings and WikiLeaks, according to a profile in New York magazine published last week.

"The overriding issue that affected the election that I had any control over — because I had no control over the Russians — was the way of the use of my email account was turned into the greatest scandal since Lord knows when," Clinton said. "This was the biggest 'nothing burger' ever."

Hillary Clinton.  © CNBC Hillary Clinton. 

On Wednesday, Clinton said it was important to recognize the "real lesson" from the election, surrounding the "war" on information. 

"I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that's not why I lost," Clinton said.

Clinton's campaign was a target for email leaks, particularly Wikileaks, which leaked her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. Clinton pointed out on Wednesday that many men have also been paid for their speeches.

"At some point it bleeds into misogyny," Clinton said.

Clinton also said that the majority of content surrounding the election was "fake news," originated in Russia. She also alluded to data firm Cambridge Analytica, which has said it helped Donald Trump's campaign.

"We did not engage in false content," Clinton said. "We weren't in the same category as the other side." (There have been false stories from both political stances, according to analysis from BuzzFeed News.)

Clinton said that she did not inherit a strong data foundation from the Democratic party, which was "bankrupt" and near "insolvent."

It's important for people in tech and business to understand the marriage of the "domestic fake news operations," the sophisticated Russian cyber units and the Republicans' more flush data repository, Clinton said.

"Putin wants to bring us down," Clinton said. "It's way beyond me. .... I believe that what was happening to me was unprecedented. Over the summer we went and told anyone we could find that the Russians were messing with the election and we were basically shoo'd away. .... We couldn't get the press to cover it."

Clinton said platforms like Facebook (FB) have got to get better at curating news. But she also said that her supporters put off taking more action on fake news because she was thought to be in the lead.

"I don't know enough about what they could have done in real time," Clinton said. "I also think I was the victim of the very broad assumption I was going to win. I never believed it, I always thought it would be a close election."

Clinton also pointed to the flow of money into the Democrats' "horrible" data deficiency. She pointed to the popularity of conservative documentaries on Netflix, and the "unaccountable" money related to the decision of Citizens United v. FEC.

"Democrats give money to candidates - they want a personal connection," Clinton said. "Republicans build institutions."

Clinton hinted that more tech billionaires should buy media companies, the way Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post.

"I think Jeff Bezos saved the Washington Post," Clinton said. "But newspapers, like the Post, the Times, others — still drive news ….. It was a very good use of his financial resources. Because now we have a very good newspaper again operating in Washington."

As technology like artificial intelligence threatens to change the workforce, stabilising the economy is a key theme for Democrats going forward, Clinton said. She also pointed to the market opportunity surrounding clean energy.

"I'm not going anywhere - I have a big stake in what's happening to this country," Clinton said. On the election, she added: "I don't want it to happen to anyone else."

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