NBC News Historian Sucks Up To Hillary

Whenever NBC News needs someone to put the current presidential campaign into historic context they usually go to liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and in recent days, on two different NBC News outlets, Goodwin has delivered with her unique historic and liberal perspective on Hillary Clinton.

On this morning's "Today" show, NBC's Andrea Mitchell went to Goodwin for a critical take on Hillary, but even when asked to find a negative about the Senator from New York, Goodwin couldn't help but fill her critique with superlatives as she determined Hillary may need to soften her "articulate" and overly "prepared," image by intentionally making a mistake. The following analysis was aired on the August 7, "Today" show:

Andrea Mitchell: "So far, Clinton has scored points in debates by showing she is knowledgeable. Now experts say she may also have to prove she's likable."

Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian: "It means she may have to take a risk of making a mistake. She may have to take a risk of not being so articulate and so prepared, to show spontaneity, to show humor."

As any student of recent history knows, Hillary is more than capable of making un-calculated mistakes. Perhaps Goodwin believed her disastrous attempt to socialize health care and her infamous "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies" remark were all part of an ingenious strategy to humanize the "so prepared" Hillary.

In fact, judging from Goodwin's comments from her appearance on Tim Russert's CNBC show, back on July 28th, Goodwin seems to have developed an image of Hillary as an innocent victim who has been forced to overcome the mistakes of others:

When Russert asked Goodwin to rate the '08 candidates' ability to overcome adversity, Goodwin noted Hillary's great accomplishment of having "withstood" such public trials as Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky.

Goodwin: "Looking back. I think for Hillary Clinton, to a certain extent, having withstood the extraordinary damage to her reputation with both Whitewater and the humiliation with the Monica Lewinsky affair, and being willing to slog it out again on the public campaign trail, shows that she's come through something."

A little later in the show Goodwin, who accepted a Hillary invite to sleep over at the White House, insisted Hillary was "much warmer, more affectionate," in person. Goodwin also blamed Hillary's reaction to how the press "screwed" her over on Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky for the candidate not being more "open" in public.

Goodwin: "What I wonder about her is that I think she has it in person. I mean, when I've been with her on time, she's a much warmer, more affectionate, more open person than she's let herself be in public. And the wonder is whether or not all that difficulty she went through with the press over Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky closed up some side of her and that she's not yet willing to let it fully come out. You see glimpses of it in these debates, where she's becoming more open and more easy, but I think for her to really establish a connection to the country, she's going to have to say, 'Ok, I'm mad at the press, they screwed me up before. But I've got to just deal with the people the way I think I know how to do it,' without being so closed."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.