Couric Provides Forum for Female Clinton Backers to Vent

With the end of liberal Democrat Hillary Clinton's “historic campaign for the presidency” seemingly very near, CBS anchor Katie Couric devoted more than four minutes Tuesday night to wondering: “What will the many women who supported her do?” (Based on her reporting, that likely includes her.) Noting that “women helped propel Clinton to a big win in Pennsylvania,” Couric explained: “We asked seven of her supporters from that battleground state about her campaign and what they're thinking now.”

Amongst the comments featured from the seven liberals, a teacher blamed media hostility toward Clinton -- “It bothers me to think with the kind of coverage that we've had” -- for how “young men or other young women” inexplicably “say, 'I hate Hillary,' and just the venom that comes out of them.” Couric inquired of the group: “What has Hillary Clinton's candidacy taught you?” several saw sexism, as one woman replied: “We still have a long ways to go when it comes to sexism, and we will have a female President in the near future.” Another didn't see any hope for women candidates:
If she doesn't win this time, I don't know when -- at least, it won't happen in my lifetime -- when there would be any other candidate who would be as well qualified.

To illustrate, the unfair media treatment of Senator Clinton, CBS played some soundbites from cable news, including Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, “When she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs,” and this from Chris Matthews, long-ago made “infamous” by Clinton operatives: “The reason she's a U.S. Senator, the reason she's a candidate for President, the reason she may be a frontrunner, is her husband messed around.”

Couric has certainly pitched in to advance Hillary Clinton's cause. Check out these posts from earlier this year documenting some of her efforts:

My March 4 NewsBusters item, “Couric Scolds Voter Disturbed by Clinton's 'Emotional Outbursts,'” recounted:

On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, in a taped piece in which Katie Couric spoke with Columbus, Ohio-area "blue-collar" voters, she talked to the husband and wife owners of a restaurant and scolded the husband when he cited Hillary Clinton's "emotional outbursts" as a reason to not vote for her. The man observed that "Hillary's made emotional outbursts" and worried what would happen "if she's put in a tragic situation where, God forbid, we have another terrorist attack or something like that." To which, Couric retorted: "But some of the male candidates, like Mitt Romney, have gotten misty eyed as well."

And as she walked inside a Honda plant, Couric described Ohio's "working class" voters as "often culturally conservative -- against abortion rights, gun control, and hawkish on defense." Of course, she could just as easily have phrased that as "against abortion rights and for gun rights" or "pro-life and pro-gun."...

My February 11 posting, “Couric Injects Silly Girl Talk in Clinton Interview on 60 Minutes,” reported:

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]...

My January 10 item, “Couric Urges 'Humanized' Clinton to 'Reveal More of Yourself,'” relayed:

Telling Hillary Clinton "some observers believe" that when she got "emotional" -- as "your voice cracked and your eyes welled up" -- that "humanized you and made you much more attractive to women voters," CBS's Katie Couric on Wednesday night cooed: "Will you be willing now to reveal more of yourself and be less reserved?" As if the "emotional" moment Monday in New Hampshire exposed the real, sensitive Hillary Clinton while the "reserved" Hillary persona of the last 15-plus years doesn't match reality. For the interview aired on the CBS Evening News, Clinton invited Couric to her home in New Castle, New York. Clinton described the incident as "Hillary unplugged" and insisted it showed "I don't see politics as a game," but as a way of "getting in a position to actually help people."

Couric did, at least, challenge a Clinton premise: "How can you be a real change agent when you were involved in a two-term administration in the '90s. You're yesterday's news, they think in a way?"...

After the taped segment with the liberal women, Couric highlighted how a CBS News poll found more think Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama faced impediments: “We asked, 'Who faces more obstacles in presidential politics?' -- 46 percent said a woman candidate, 32 said a black candidate.”

Online version of the session with the women, with video and text (with some portions that aired and missing some portions which aired): “Where Will Sen. Clinton's Supporters Turn? Katie Couric Speaks With Seven Clinton Supporters About the Campaign.”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided a transcript of what aired on the Tuesday, June 3 CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: Turning again to politics now, with Hillary Clinton looking at the end of her historic campaign for the presidency, what will the many women who supported her do? In the Democratic primaries before tonight, Clinton won more than half the female vote. Women helped propel Clinton to a big win in Pennsylvania. So we asked seven of her supporters from that battleground state about her campaign and what they're thinking now.

SANDRA MILLER, FORMER COUNTY COMMISSIONER CLIP #1: I think from the very beginning she's been mistreated.

MILLER CLIP #2: I know I watched a lot of interviews and so forth where Senator Clinton was referred to as "Mrs. Clinton" whereas Senator Obama was "Senator Obama."

MEREDITH CIAMBRELLO, TEACHER: It bothers me to think with the kind of coverage that we've had, that we've been speaking of, that it's influencing the voters. And when I talk to young men or other young women, and they say, "I hate Hillary," and just the venom that comes out of them. And I wonder where is that coming from.

CLIPS FROM TV SHOWS:
TUCKER CARLSON, ON MSNBC: When she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.
WILLIE GEIST: I know you do.

MICHELLE MALKIN, FNC: The famous photo from the weekend of Hillary looking so haggard, and, what, looking like 92 years old, if that's the face of experience, I think it's going to scare away a lot of those independent voters.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, ON MSNBC: The reason she's a U.S. Senator, the reason she's a candidate for President, the reason she may be a frontrunner, is her husband messed around.
END OF CLIPS

KATHLEEN O'DELL, SALES MANAGER: I think we have a little different standard with sexism than we do with, say, racism. I mean, there have been people who go to her rallies and stand up, the guy who stood up and said, "Hey, iron my shirt."

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: Iron my shirt, iron my shirt!

O'DELL: Consider that if somebody had showed up at an Obama campaign and had a banner saying something about his race or about somebody's religion, we'd be up in arms. Everybody would be like, you know, how disgusting.

COURIC: What do you wish she had done differently?

O'DELL: First of all, I think she underestimated Obama tremendously, the mood of the country. She picked people who were very loyal to her, who weren't maybe as savvy at running caucus states. The Internet, I think she got killed on the Internet.

COURIC: Some people have said that, you know, if she couldn't run a better campaign, if she couldn't surround herself with better people during the process, what does that portend for her ability to run the country?

DEBBIE PELLEN, STAY-AT-HOME MOTHER: I think it's a fair comment, but some people that he seems to be surrounding himself with, I think they're great PR people. But I don't think that's a good indication of how they're going to be with policy.

COURIC: If Hillary Clinton gets out of the race, what then?

JENNIFER MILLER, ART INSTRUCTOR: I'll vote for Barack Obama if Hillary doesn't get in.

DOREEN RUFFE, STAY-AT-HOME MOTHER: I'm thinking that, but I would have to see what happens between now and November.

DAPHNE MROZ, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: I will definitely vote for another Democrat in office.

O'DELL: Right now, I'm staying home. I don't want to be taken for granted.

PELLEN: I will definitely vote for Obama.

COURIC: What about your husband, Debbie?

PELLEN: My husband will look at it and say, "But we're at war, Deb. And you know what? This person's untested. At least somebody has a record. He had a record versus no record."

COURIC: And your husband's a Democrat?

PELLEN: Democrat, registered Democrat.

COURIC: Do you know of any Hillary Clinton supporters who would be so angry about the outcome, and about the way she's been treated, that they would opt to vote for John McCain, almost as a protest?

SANDRA MILLER: Absolutely. That anger is just building and building. They have expressed to me that if she is not the candidate, they will vote for McCain.

COURIC: What has Hillary Clinton's candidacy taught you?

JENNIFER MILLER: We still have a long ways to go when it comes to sexism, and we will have a female President in the near future.

SANDRA MILLER: I would disagree that we're going to have another female candidate, or a female President, in the near future if Senator Clinton is not successful.

MROZ: If she doesn't win this time, I don't know when -- at least, it won't happen in my lifetime -- when there would be any other candidate who would be as well qualified.

RUFFE: In terms of the sexism, I try and stay away from that. I'm trying to teach my three kids you can do anything you want. And my oldest wanted to be President when she was six. And I kept saying you can.

O'DELL: I think we have come really far. I mean, we are this close. And if it wasn't for this other really great story, she would be the nominee.

COURIC, BACK AT ANCHOR DESK: By the way, a new CBS News poll shows many voters nationwide believe Clinton faced an uphill battle because of her gender. We asked, "Who faces more obstacles in presidential politics?" -- 46 percent said a woman candidate, 32 said a black candidate.
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