Couric Injects Silly Girl Talk in '60 Minutes' Interview with Clinton

60 Minutes on Sunday night ran back-to-back interview segments with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and while Steve Kroft's session with Obama provided a friendly forum in which Kroft admired how “through twelve long months of mind-numbing, muscle-aching, adrenaline-fueled monotony and exhaustion, there has been barely a misstep” by Obama, it was devoid of anything approaching the giddy girl talk about mainlining coffee and high school boys Katie Couric put into her segment with Clinton.

Couric set up the story by trumpeting how Clinton “remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist.” She soon wondered: “How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?” In seeming awe, a giggling Couric followed up: “But I'm talking about pure stamina” and marveled: “Do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?” Later, as the two stood in a high school classroom, Couric cooed: “What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?” Clinton denied that, prompting this exchange full of laughs and giggles:
COURIC: Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?
CLINTON: Only with some boys. [laughs]
COURIC: [giggling] I don't know if I want to hear the back story on that!
CLINTON: Well, you wouldn't want to know the boys either. [bursts out laughing]
CBSNews.com posted video of Steve Kroft's segment with Barack Obama, and a text version of it too. Video of Katie Couric's piece with Hillary Clinton. The online text version of Couric's story (note it does not exactly match what aired -- for instance, it leaves out the high school boy talk exchange.)

From the February 10 60 Minutes segment, the set up and then highlights of where Couric delved into silly girl talk with Clinton:
KATIE COURIC, INTRODUCTION TO SEGMENT: Senator Hillary Clinton never expected such a tight race. Last fall, she was ahead in the polls by a wide margin with no serious rivals to worry about. Now she finds herself locked in a fierce battle with her opponent Barrack Obama. But she's already won several big states and she's got her eye on two important primaries in early March, Texas and Ohio. With the Democratic nomination in the balance, she remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist....

COURIC: We were at her home in Chappaqua, New York, on Super Tuesday as she sat through 57 satellite interviews with reporters from across the country, repeatedly stressing her readiness to be President.

CLIPS OF CLINTON: On day one. On day one. On day one.

CLINTON: It's exhausting.

COURIC TO CLINTON: How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?"

CLINTON: I do it because I really believe in what I'm doing.

COURIC: I knew you were gonna say that.

CLINTON: Well, but it's true.

COURIC, GIGGLING: But I'm talking about pure stamina.

CLINTON: Well, pure stamina. I have a lot of stamina and I have a lot of resilience.

COURIC: Having said that, do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?

CLINTON: I take vitamins. I drink tea, not coffee anymore. I have really stopped drinking diet drinks because I found that they gave you a jolt, but they weren't good over the long run. I used to drink a lot of them. I drink tons of water. Just as much water as I can possibly drink. You know, my two secrets to staying healthy: wash your hands all the time. And, if you can't, use Purell or one of the sanitizers. And the other is hot peppers. I eat a lot of hot peppers. I for some reason started doing that in 1992, and I swear by it.

COURIC: Her staff is as sleep deprived as she is, many of them longtime loyal Clintonites, with a war room similar to Bill Clinton's in the 1990s....
Portion of story taped around an event at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington County, Virginia, where Couric grew up and her parents still live, though she attended a different high school:
COURIC: What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?

CLINTON: Not always raising my hand, not only raising my hand.

COURIC: Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?

CLINTON: Only with some boys. [laughs]

COURIC, GIGGLING: I don't know if I want to hear the back story on that!

CLINTON: Well, you wouldn't want to know the boys either. [bursts out laughing]
Couric did gently challenge Clinton a few times, for example wondering “Why are you so often seen as polarizing?” and when Clinton complained about the 400 billion deficit projected in President Bush's new budget, Couric pounced: “A deficit that's been caused largely by a war that you authorized.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center