‘Big Three’ Continue To Downplay Clinton-Obama Scuffle: ‘A Good Time Was Had By All’

On Thursday, August 14, all three network morning shows did their best to defuse the conflict between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama following Clinton’s criticism of the White House’s foreign policy. 

The “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) insisted that any dispute between the two Democrats had subsided with ABC and NBC pushing the White House line that when the two met for a birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard “a good time was had by all.” [See video below.] 

Thursday’s coverage comes on the heels of the network morning shows providing damage control on Wednesday when they maintained that Clinton and Obama would “hug it out” to resolve any outstanding disagreements. 

On ABC's Good Morning America, fill-in anchor David Muir introduced a segment by Jonathan Karl, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent, by playing up the “awkward meeting last night between Hillary Clinton and her former boss, President Obama. The former Secretary of State saying she wanted to hug it out with the president at a party on Martha's Vineyard last night.”

Jonathan Karl proceeded to minimize the scuffle between the two: 

She came, they met, they partied. We still don't know if they actually hugged. All the White House will say is that the Obamas enjoyed spending time with the Clintons and, quote, “the menu consisted of surf and turf and pasta. The Obamas danced nearly every song. A good time was had by all.

On NBC’s Today, Kristen Welker, NBC White House Correspondent, did her best to stress the White House’s efforts to quell the conflict within the Democratic Party:

The White House won't say whether President Obama and Hillary Clinton literally hugged it out. But one White House official tells me their interaction was cordial and friendly...But all the buzz today is about the Obama-Clinton face-to-face...According to the White House “a good time was had by all” as both sides try to downplay any lingering tensions after Secretary Clinton recently criticized the president's foreign policy. 

Welker continued to promote how “Clinton called the president on Tuesday to smooth things over. And with Mr. Obama's approval ratings middling, the White House was also eager to put the matter to rest.” 

CBS This Morning provided a short news brief on the aftermath of the Clinton-Obama meeting with Norah O’Donnell describing how “the White House says there were no stormy discussions between President Obama and Hillary Clinton last night. They shared a table at a party on Martha’s Vineyard. Earlier in the day at a book signing, the former Secretary of State talked about her criticism of the president's foreign policy.”  

See relevant transcript below. 


CBS

CBS This Morning

August 14, 2014

NORAH O’DONNELL: The White House says there were no stormy discussions between President Obama and Hillary Clinton last night. They shared a table at a party on Martha’s Vineyard. Earlier in the day at a book signing, the former Secretary of State talked about her criticism of the president's foreign policy. 

CHARLIE ROSE: Clinton told “The Atlantic” magazine “great nations need organizing principles and don't do stupid stuff. It is not an organizing principle.” She referred to a phrase that President Obama used in May. Clinton says she is not trying to distance herself from the president. 

HILLARY CLINTON: We have disagreements as any partners and friends as we are might very well have. But I'm proud that I served with him and for him and I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight. 

ROSE: The Obamas and Clintons were guests at a birthday party for a mutual friend.

 

ABC

Good Morning America

August 14, 2014

DAVID MUIR: We’re going to turn now to that awkward meeting last night between Hillary Clinton and her former boss, President Obama. The former Secretary of State saying she wanted to hug it out with the president at a party on Martha's Vineyard last night. It comes after some very critical remarks about his foreign policy. Our Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl live on the Vineyard for us this morning. Jon? 

JONATHAN KARL: Good morning David. She came, they met, they partied. We still don't know if they actually hugged. All the White House will say is that the Obamas enjoyed spending time with the Clintons and, quote, “the menu consisted of surf and turf and pasta. The Obamas danced nearly every song. A good time was had by all.” Now before the party, Mrs. Clinton sought to smooth things over at a book signing here on Martha's Vineyard but look what happened when I asked her specifically about the president's handling of Iraq. Do you think he was handling the situation in Iraq right now -- I mean, would you be doing it differently?

HILLARY CLINTON: I'm excited about signing books.

MUIR: Always fun when Jon shows up. Did you get a signed book? 

KARL: I did not and as you can see she was not too into answering too many questions there at the book signing. But she did sign a lot of books, just not one for me, David. 

MUIR: That’s right. Don’t hold your breath. Alright, Jon Karl this morning. Jon thanks.

 

NBC

Today

August 14, 2014

MATT LAUER: President Obama and Hillary Clinton came together last night for the first time since she publicly criticized her former boss's approach to former policy. So, did they hug it out as Clinton vowed? NBC’s White House Correspondent Kristen Welker is on Martha's Vineyard. Kristen good morning to you.  

KRISTEN WELKER: Matt good morning to you. The White House won't say whether President Obama and Hillary Clinton literally hugged it out. But one White House official tells me their interaction was cordial and friendly. It took place at a party hosted by Democratic donor Vernon Jordan, a birthday celebration for his wife, where 150 guests, including the First Lady and former President Bill Clinton, dined on surf and turf. But all the buzz today is about the Obama-Clinton face-to-face. The highly anticipated party was held at this Martha's Vineyard golf course with the president and his former Secretary of State sitting at the same table. According to the White House “a good time was had by all” as both sides try to downplay any lingering tensions after Secretary Clinton recently criticized the president's foreign policy. 

HILLARY CLINTON: Great to be back in the Vineyard. 

WELKER: At a book club signing earlier on the island, Clinton tried to put on a united front. 

CLINTON: I’m proud that I served with him and for him. 

WELKER: A more cordial tone from Clinton’s recent interview with “The Atlantic” monthly magazine where she suggested President Obama could have done more to stop the growth of terrorists in Iraq and mocked the White House shorthand for the president’s policy don't do stupid stuff. Clinton telling the publication, “Don't do stupid stuff is not an organizing principle. “Those comments touched off a media firestorm and comparisons to their campaign clashes back in 2008. 

BARACK OBAMA: You're likable enough. 

CLINTON: Thank you so much. 

WELKER: Clinton called the president on Tuesday to smooth things over. And with Mr. Obama's approval ratings middling, the White House was also eager to put the matter to rest. 

ERIC SCHULTZ: They continue to agree on a broad majority of issues confronting our country even if they have the occasional policy difference. 

WELKER: As for Clinton, foreign policy experts say if she does run in 2016, she’ll have to walk a fine line. 

MARC GINSBERG: She needs to have his blessing to carve out areas of disagreement ahead of time so that he’s not surprised. 

WELKER: Some Obama allies, though, are still upset. One Democrat with close ties to President Obama said it’s no surprise that Hillary Clinton would try to distance herself in some ways. But in this case she, quote, “leaned too far.” Back to you all in the studio.  

LAUER: Alright Kristen Welker on Martha's Vineyard. Kristen thanks very much.

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