Instead of Asking Hillary Clinton About Benghazi, Barbara Walters Pushes Her to Run for President

Add Barbara Walters to the list of journalists pushing for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for President in 2016.  For the third time now, Ms. Clinton has been featured on Barbara Walters’s annual 10 Most Fascinating People special.

Given that Ms. Walters  had a one-on-one sit-down interview with Clinton, it would seem logical that the topic of the Benghazi fiasco would come up.  It didn't, despite the fact that, as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton oversees all U.S. Embassies, and is directly responsible for protecting our diplomats around the world, especially in troubled regions where security threats are more acute.  [See video below break.  MP3 audio here.] 

Instead, as NewsBusters pointed out on Wednesday, Ms. Walters found time to ask Ms. Clinton about “one of the great fascinations of our time,” Clinton's hair:

WALTERS: So  I have to ask you this very personal question.  Your hair.

Clinton: I know that it's one of the great, uh, fascinations of our time.

WALTERS: Absolutely.

CLINTON: Much to my amazement.  I know it! 

WALTERS:  People say to me, "are you interviewing the Secretary of State?"  I said, "yes.  What should I--yes!  Ask her about her hair!" Right.

CLINTON: Well, I-- you know, I do not travel with any hairdresser, and I'm not very competent myself. I've been, uh, admitting that for years, which, uh, should be obvious to everyone. It just got to be really burdensome to try to find a hairdresser in some city, somewhere. So I've said, "Enough." We're just gonna try to go with, uh, as simple as possible.

WALTERS: Nobody asked the men that. 

CLINTON: Have you noticed? 

WALTERS: Yeah.  Nobody asks the men.

Four Americans die on Clinton's watch in a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11. One of which, Ambassador Chris Stevens, repeatedly complained about lax diplomatic security, to no avail. Yet split ends merit more attention?!

Earlier in the segment, Walters focused on whether Clinton will try again for the presidency in 2016, which, admittedly is a more salient topic than caring for one's coiffure, but still, it was quite evident that Walters's interest was more cheerleaderish than strictly journalistic:

WALTERS: What most people are asking now about you is, will you consider running for president in 2016?  Would you just like to make your declaration now and we could conclude this interview? 

WALTERS: You know, your husband wants you to run in 2016.  What do you want to say to him?

CLINTON: He--he wants me to do what I want to do, and he has made that very clear, and some of what I want to do is just kick back.  I mean it sounds--

WALTERS: Yeah, but after you have slept.  Well..kicked back, read those books--

CLINTON: But I haven't had a chance to do that yet.

WALTERS: Okay, so let's give you three months.

CLINTON: Oh, no.

WALTERS: What would it take to convine you to run in 2016?

The closest Walters came anywhere near the Benghazi debacle was when Walters asked about worries the Secretary most about the Middle East. Clinton answered that Iran was. But rather than serve as an opening for a meaty discussion on the administration's failures to curb the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons, Walters saw it as an opportunity to toss more softballs:

WALTERS: You know, we look at the Middle East, and it's still...such unrest.  What worries you the most?

CLINTON: Iran.  Iran worries me the most, because it's not only the terrible prospect that they might have a nuclear weapon, which we are committed to prevent.  They're already engaging in terrorism all over the world.

WALTERS: So if you could do one thing before you left...maybe it's the Middle East.  Maybe it's something in Iran.  What would it be?  In your, in your dreams.

CLINTON: Oh, in my dreams, it would be Middle East peace.  Two states for two people, living side by side.  Israel would be a Democratic Jewish state with security, living with their Palestinian neighbors.

WALTERS: Do you think President Obama can do this in a second term, create that kind of peace?

A trite exchange on Mideast peace? Questions about hair care? Viewers would be forgiven if they thought Walters was conducted an interview with a Miss America contestant rather than the outgoing secretary of state.

 

See relevant transcript below. 


ABC

Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012

December 12, 2012

10:35 p.m. EST

BARBARA WALTERS: Welcome back. In all the years that we have been doing this special, no one has been on the show more than our next guest. She made the list in 1993, in 2003, and now in 2012. I guess that means that every decade or so, Hillary Clinton has shaken up our preconceptions and redefined herself. She resigns from her post as secretary of state shortly, but anyone who believes that she will just ride off into the sunset hasn't been paying attention.

DAVID MUIR: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting the African nation of Malawi.

UNKNOWN REPORTER: And overseas now in Egypt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for the first time...

JAKE TAPPER: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived for meetings in Turkey.

WALTERS: Hillary Clinton went on a few foreign trips this year-- 67 to be exact.  She worked to empower women around the globe. And the United States will continue to stand strongly by the women of Afghanistan. She brokered a high profile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.  And she even did a little dancing.  It's a unique record, and it has made her one of the most acclaimed Secretaries of State in modern history. You have said that you will not stay on as secretary of state for President Obama's second term. You're leaving at the height of your career. Why are you leaving?

HILLARY CLINTON: I've been, as you know, at the highest levels of American and now international, activities for 20 years, and I just thought it was time to take a step off. I wanted to take some time and just really collect myself.

WALTERS: Are you exhausted?

CLINTON: I am. To be honest, I am, because when I do something, I really want to do it. I want to do it to the best of my ability. That means I pretty much work all that time.

WALTERS: How many miles have you traveled?  How many places have you visited?  Have you figured that out yet?

CLINTON: Well, someone told me the other day it's, I think 112 countries and close to a million miles.

WALTERS: What most people are asking now about you is, will you consider running for president in 2016?  Would you just like to make your declaration now and we could conclude this interview.

CLINTON: Well, that would be fascinating, to me as well as everyone else. You know, I've said I really don't believe that that's something I will do again.

WALTERS: You know, your husband wants you to run in 2016.  What do you say to him?

CLINTON: He--he wants me to do what I want do, and he has made that very clear, and some of what I want to do is just kick back. I mean, it sounds—

WALTERS: Yeah, but after you have slept... Well...kicked back, read those books—

CLINTON: But I haven't had a chance to do that yet.

WALTERS: Okay, so let's give you three months.

CLINTON: Oh, no.

WALTERS: What would it take to convince you to run in 2016?

CLINTON: You know, it's-- that's all hypothetical, because right now I have no intention of running. I just want to make a contribution. I always feel that's who I am and what I want to do.

WALTERS: Will it be political?

CLINTON: I don't think so. I think it will be philanthropic.  It might be academic. It might be business. I mean, there are a lot of things that I'm—

WALTERS: all doors are open.

CLINTON: All doors are open which is a wonderful opportunity.

WALTERS: You know, you will be 69 in 2016, if you ran. If you won 2 terms, you would be 77.  Is your age a concern to you?

CLINTON: It really isn't. I am-- thankfully, knock on wood-- not only healthy but have incredible stamina and energy. I just want to see what else is out there.

WALTERS: You know, we look at the Middle East, and it's still... Such unrest. What worries you the most?

CLINTON: Iran. Iran worries me the most, because it's not only the terrible prospect that they might have a nuclear weapon, which we are committed to prevent. They're already engaging in terrorism all over the world.

WALTERS: So if you could do one thing before you left... Maybe it's the Middle East. Maybe it's something in Iran. What would it be? In your, in your dreams.

CLINTON: Oh, in my dreams, it would be Middle East peace. Two states for two people, living side by side. Israel would a Democratic Jewish state with security, living with their Palestinian neighbors.

WALTERS: Do you think President Obama can do this in a second term, create that kind of peace?

CLINTON: Well, I know he, uh, would very much, uh, like to play a role in that, but... Uh, the fact is that it's become even more difficult in the last several years.

WALTERS: So I have to ask you this very personal question. Your hair.

CLINTON: I know that it's one of the great, uh, fascinations of our time.

WALTERS: Absolutely.

CLINTON: Much to my amazement. I know it!

WALTERS: People said to me, "are you interviewing the Secretary of State?" I said, "yes. What should I--yes! Yes! "Ask her about her hair!  Right.

CLINTON: Well, I-- you know, I do not travel with any hairdresser, and I'm not very competent myself. I've been, uh, admitting that for years, which, uh, should be obvious to everyone. It just got to be really burdensome to try to find a hairdresser in some city, somewhere. So I've said, "Enough." We're just gonna try to go with, uh, as simple as possible.

WALTERS: Nobody asks the men that.

CLINTON: Have you noticed?

WALTERS: Yeah.  Nobody asks the men. Do you have a philosophy by which you live?

CLINTON: I think it's very simple. I try to live by the golden rule. I try to make my best efforts at all times and try to treat people as I would like to be treated. I go into places where people are lying to me.  Where people are doing terrible things to their own people. You know, you have to keep findings ways to connect with these people, try to move them somehow towards, you know, better behavior. It's, uh, it takes a lot of--of thought, but you have to be rooted yourself to have any chance of doing it.

WALTERS: Madam Secretary, it's always a great pleasure personally and--and an honor to be with you. Thank you, and good luck to you.

CLINTON: Thank you so much Barbara.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.