Bozell Column: Honoring Hillary for Media Manipulation
The other day, CNN’s "Reliable Sources" show sought to explore Hillary’s Sunday morning interview blitz of September 23. Why do the media pine for her so? Michelle Cottle of the New Republic gave the typical liberal answer: "She's a celebrity. She and Bill have passed some point where they're no longer just politicians. They're rock stars."
There is absolutely no doubt that liberals really do think of the Clintons in rock-star terms, and the "objective" media have not merely treated them that way with a long-running assembly line of dazzled profiles and shoe-polishing interviews. Their royal treatment of the Clintons sends a signal to the rest of the political world: you cannot hope to contain these deeply impressive world leaders.
National Public Radio threw a temper tantrum and refused to air an interview with the President of the United States because the president sat down with NPR’s Juan Williams instead of another NPR-approved interviewer. But Hillary is allowed to be as choosy as she wants to be. On CNN, Washington Post reporter Anne Kornblut explained that Hillary always "picks her targets" in the media in a very calculating way. "When she decided to talk to the Washington Post, she picked columnists that she wanted to speak to, and...hasn't done interviews with the beat reporters, for example. And this is not just true of the Washington Post. It's true everywhere. And it's worked to her benefit so far, but it's a very specific strategy."
Her choosy strategy has worked to her benefit because the media <ital>want<ital> it to work to her benefit. It’s like her cozy book tour for her ridiculous history-mangling memoir in 2003. At that time, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell sang from that same Anne Kornblut song sheet, frankly recounting that Hillary was smart to avoid lowering herself to tough interviews with Tim Russert. "This is a way of her getting out her version, so that people, book buyers, people who read it, people who will read about it will hear it more in her voice, and that is politically very advantageous."
In this last Sunday round, the hosts did ask a few questions that Hillary wouldn’t like. Fox’s Chris Wallace pressed her on her right-wing-trashing "hyper-partisan view of politics." Tim Russert, among others, pressed about her Norman Hsu campaign-finance scandal. Some asked about her refusal to condemn MoveOn.org as it branded generals as traitors in newspaper ads. But who recalls Hillary’s answers? The media’s echo chamber didn’t exactly register her calculated responses as memorable, especially on scandals. Instead, they covered the fact that she mounted the merry-go-round as more relevant than what she actually said. The headlines in the papers referred to her media blitz, not her answers.
Fluff and spin are all that matters.
AP’s Hope Yen wrote Hillary "sought to portray herself as a more humble, wiser leader who has learned from her mistakes and who would work to shed her image as a polarizing figure who would mire Washington in gridlock." CBS’s Joie Chen oozed: "Perched in a catbird seat at her suburban New York home, Hillary Clinton made a rare royal flush of appearances on all five Sunday talk shows....Sounding more than ever like a Democrat holding all the good cards."
In the New York Times, political writer Adam Nagourney graded the TV rounds highly. "That is the campaign equivalent of a home run." He also noted the front-runner did the interviews from her house on her terms and "sought to wring another day of what has been mostly positive coverage from the [health] plan she announced last Monday."
So Hillary is being given great credit for her skill in controlling the media – by the media. Isn’t that just a bit scary?
"Saturday Night Live" is doing skits with Amy Poehler’s Hillary announcing the seating arrangements at her inaugurations in 2009 and 2013. It is small wonder Hillary looks like a juggernaut when we have a media that are constantly telling us her campaign’s a juggernaut, a juggernaut driven by two "rock stars." No one should deny that if our political press decided to drop the syrup bottle and press the Clintons on their scandals, or their politics of personal destruction, or their leftist policy prescriptions, they would look like a lot less impressive – and a lot less inevitable.