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After stemming tide on emails, Clinton hopes for return to normal

Hillary Clinton will return to her regularly scheduled program Monday in New York City after a tense press conference on her email controversy last week.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York, N.Y. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York, N.Y.

Hillary Clinton will return to her regularly scheduled program this week, making her first public appearance Monday since the press conference last week where she tried to stem the tide of controversy over her unorthodox email usage. 

For two weeks, Clinton has been under fire for exclusively using a private email account when she served as secretary of state. But in what are likely to be two of her last public appearances before she is expected to announce a 2016 presidential bid sometime in April, Clinton will revisit the more pleasant way she spent much of her post-State Department tenure: Collecting awards and being rewarded handsomely for public speaking.

On Monday, the former secretary of state will be inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame and give a keynote address. The event, which will honor Clinton for her work with women during the Northern Ireland peace process, will highlight Clinton’s experience in foreign policy and her global advocacy for women, two themes likely to be central to her all-but-declared 2016 campaign. 

Later in the week, the former senator and first lady will deliver what is expected to be her final paid speech of the year in Atlantic City, New Jersey to a conference organized by the regional chapter of the American Camp Association.

Related: Debate over 'trust' haunts Hillary Clinton

Clinton has been trying to move past the email controversy, which has dogged her for two weeks as she's tried to focus on her advocacy of women and girls at various events. The 2008 presidential candidate and many of her advisors had hoped to ride out the storm until after she announced a campaign. But that proved impossible and Clinton reluctantly went before cameras to take questions from reporters on her private email server Tuesday, eight days after a New York Times report raised concerns that Clinton skirted federal record-keeping regulations.

The point of the press conference, according to Clinton advisors, was to staunch the bleeding on a political wound that was, by that point, impossible to heal outright. And despite many headlines suggesting Clinton had created as many new questions as she answered, Clinton seems to have succeeded in at least partially calming the uproar.

The arc of the story, and the affect of Clinton’s press conference Tuesday, can be seen in the changing volume of coverage devoted to Clinton over the past two weeks, which appears to have fallen after her intervention.

Hillary Clinton’s name was mentioned on average 164 times per day during the first week of the controversy on the nation’s three biggest cable news networks (MSNBC, CNN and Fox News). That was a big leap from just 52 mentions on the day before the email story appeared on the front page the Times, according to an msnbc analysis of data from the media monitoring service TV Eyes.

Unsurprisingly, coverage of Clinton jumped on the day of the press conference and the one following, as journalists and pundits analyzed Clinton’s performance. But then, coverage dropped off, though not quite back to pre-controversy levels.

On the Monday before Clinton’s press conference, her name was mentioned 179 times on the three cable news channels. Mentions jumped to 300 on the day of the conference and then 266 the day after, but fell to 104 on Thursday and 106 on Friday. That’s a third less than the daily average during the first week of controversy and down 40% from Monday’s coverage. 

The drop was even more noticeable in local news coverage in key states. 

In Iowa, the first state to hold a caucus in the party nominating conventions, Clinton’s name was mentioned 97 times on local TV and radio stations in the state the day before her press conference, and then fell to 28 and 26 mentions on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

In New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first primary, mentions of Clinton’s on airwaves in the state and in Boston, which serves Southern New Hampshire, fell by almost two-thirds. Her name was mentioned 99 times on Monday, and then fell to 38 and 39 on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Related: Is Hillary Clinton too big to fail?

And the story followed similar trend in Ohio, a key general election swing state. Clinton started the week with 182 mentions on Monday, then dominated news on Tuesday and Wednesday with more than 200 mentions each day. But coverage fell to just 61 and 75 mentions by the last two days of the week.

Even so, congressional Republicans are stepping up their investigation in Clinton's emails, and could turn up new damaging revelations. But Clinton's allies are more comfortable with a partisan fight than a media-driven controversy. 

Having at least stabilized the patient that is her latent presidential bid, Clinton can turn to more fun activities like being indicted into the Irish America Hall of Fame, which also already includes two potential rivals for the Democratic nomination, Vice President Joe Biden and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. 

Clinton will share the honor this year with two corporate executives and Patrick Quinn, the creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the charitable campaign that went viral last year. The foreign minister of Ireland will also be on hand.

Clinton will speak for about 15 minutes, but is not expected to make herself available to reporters. “There will be no direct access to the honorees. Honorees will not be answering questions. Unfortunately, we also will not allow interviews with guests,” the press kit for the event warned reporters.

The former secretary of state is likely to follow a similar script in Atlantic City on Thursday. 

The following week, she has two public events scheduled for Monday in Washington, D.C. First, she will appear on a panel about women at the Center for American Progress think tank. Later, in what could be her last event before announcing a campaign, Clinton will present a journalism award.

Beyond that, Clinton’s public calendar is a public question mark