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Decoding Hillary Clinton’s interview on NPR’s “On Point”

by | Jul 25, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

HillaryClinton88reYou would think that being in the limelight since the late 1970s, Hillary Clinton would be more adroit in dealing with “the media.” As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, Mrs. Clinton, formerly both a United States senator and Secretary of State, started off her book tour on the wrong foot. Or, more accurately, with foot squarely placed in mouth.

Clinton, like her husband staunchly pro-abortion, took another run at it this week in an interview with NPR’s “On Point,” hosted that night by John Harwood. The interview, understandably, was primarily about her stint as Secretary of State, current foreign policy hotspots, and Harwood’s query “[I]s there a management deficit in this administration?” (Clinton deflected the question, instead blaming “gridlock and opposition to the president that started the first day he went into office”—aka “a political deficit.”)

Harwood ended the interview with a reference to former New York Times editor Jill Abramson’s recent critical characterization of Clinton’s expectations of journalists:

“Last question, Madam Secretary, before we run out of time. It’s about you and the press. Jill Abramson, my longtime boss and friend, said recently, ‘Hillary Clinton has terribly unrealistic expectations for journalists.’ And my question for you is, have you been so scalded by your past interactions that it makes you difficult for you to communicate in the way that you would need to as a presidential candidate or otherwise?”

Clinton answered:

“Well, I don’t think so. I think maybe one of the points Jill was making is that I do sometimes expect more than perhaps I should, and I’ll have to work on my expectations. But I had an excellent relationship with the State Department press that followed me for four years and I enjoyed working with them, and whatever I do in the future, I look forward to having the same kind of opportunities.”

Where to begin?

First, in her interview with POLITICO, what Abramson actually told Gail Sheehy last week was that Clinton was “incredibly unrealistic about journalists. She expects you to be 100 percent in her corner, especially women journalists.” Harwood conveniently left off the second sentence (and particularly the last three words), which is arguably the heart of Abramson’s critique, and certainly the most biting.

Second, far from being “scalded,” most of the time Mrs. Clinton luxuriates in a bath of highly favorably media coverage. She has trouble when she makes the most incredibly insensitive, elitist statements. That is, when she isn’t questioning the competence of reporters, which is not a formula for making friends.

For example, if Clinton had “an excellent relationship with the State Department press that followed me for four years,” what’s the implication?

I wrote about this back in June in “Hillary Clinton, gaffes, and the list of all-purpose excuses.”

Her apologists strongly suggest that her problems (if there actually are any) with the political press is that they are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Or as Carl Bernstein (who wrote a boilerplate book about Hillary Clinton) put it, “Part of her problem goes to her mistrust, justified in significant measure, of the press, and its difficulty in handling complexity and ambiguity in context.”

That is arguably one of the silliest, most disingenuous comments you will ever read. Hillary Clinton utters these clunkers (such as coming out of the White House dead broke,” indeed in debt) because she’s been forced to reduce “complexity and ambiguity” into language those dolts in the press can handle? Please.

The important thing to remember is that it is significant that even this far out, Clinton is the acknowledged front-runner to be her party’s 2016 presidential nominee. No matter how many gaffes—once memorably defined as “when a politician tells the truth”—Clinton has many protectors in the media and they will do everything possible to explain away her forays into truth-telling.

Categories: Politics