ABC Gushes Over Hillary; She 'Simplified' Her Immigration Stand
Liberal journalists George Stephanopoulos and Kate Snow spun ABC's coverage of Thursday's Democratic debate as a roaring comeback for Hillary Clinton and charitably described the 2008 contender's shifting position on the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Reporting on Friday's "Good Morning America," Snow slyly claimed that Clinton has "simplified her opinion" on the matter and now opposes licenses.
"Simplified" is one way to describe the senator's change of heart. A less friendly variation, one that might be handed to a Republican, is that she flip-flopped. On November 1, the Boston Globe reported, "Hillary Clinton came out yesterday in support of a plan by Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York to offer limited driver's licenses to illegal immigrants..." So, on November 1, she was for the program. She's now against it and that's simplifying a position? "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, a former Bill Clinton operative, appeared on GMA to gush that the headline from the debate is "Hillary's back." He enthused, "And the subhead, I guess, would be 'no more Madam Nice Guy.'"
If the ABC host's comments sound like talking points straight out of the Clinton campaign, viewers shouldn't be too surprised. After all, during an appearance in late September, Stephanopoulos bragged that Hillary's campaign started sending him e-mails after the senator made a clever debate quip. Reporter Snow also has a reputation as a Clinton booster. On Friday's program, she marveled at how the senator "hit back" at her opponent's charges. After playing several attacks on the front-runner, Snow asserted that the debate then "shifted to issues." This is the same Kate Snow who defended Clinton's now famous laugh by suggesting that the cackle is either a an example of someone having a great time or "she's the master of a shrewd political skill, disarming her critics with a gleam in her eye and a roar straight from the belly."
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:02am on November 16, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: And we go to the race to '08. 47 days now until the first vote. Last night's fiery presidential Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas. Front-runner Senator Hillary Clinton taking some punches and delivering some back. And "Good morning America" weekend anchor Kate Snow has the highlights.
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: This pants suit, it's asbestos tonight.
KATE SNOW: Maybe an odd analogy, but the fire was fierce.
FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: Senator Clinton defends the system, takes money from lobbyists.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: What the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions and that is not what we've seen --
SNOW: But in this debate, Clinton hit back.
CLINTON: He talks a lot about stepping up, and taking responsibility and taking strong positions, but when it came time to step up and decide whether or not he would support universal health care coverage, he chose not to do that.
EDWARDS: She says she will bring change to Washington, while she continues to defend a system that does not work, that is broken, that is rigged and is corrupt.
CLINTON: I don't mind taking hits on my record, on issues, but when somebody starts throwing mud, at least we can hope that it's both accurate and not right out of the Republican playbook.
SNOW: It was Senator Joe Biden who defused the tension.
CNN HOST WOLF BLITZER: I want Senator, Senator Biden to weigh in -- Senator Biden --
SENATOR JOE BIDEN: Oh, no, no, no.
BLITZER: I want you to weigh in.
BIDEN: Don't do it, no --
SNOW: The debate shifted to issues.
SENATOR CHRIS DODD: No Child Left Behind is a disaster.
NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON: I would junk it --
SNOW: On giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, Clinton simplified her opinion --
SNOW: This time, Obama stumbled.
OBAMA: I am not proposing that that's what we do. What I'm saying is that we can't beat -- no, no, no, look. I have already said, I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety --
SNOW: As for the gender card --
CLINTON: And I understand very well that people are not attacking me because I'm a woman, they're attacking me because I'm ahead, and I understand--
CAMPBELL BROWN (CNN): If I can just ask you, well what did you mean -- What did you mean at Wellesley when you referred to the boys club?
CLINTON: Well, it is clear, I think, from women's experiences that from time to time there may be some impediments.
SNOW: But not always tough questions.
COLLEGE STUDENT: Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?
CLINTON: That -- I know I'm sometimes accused of not being able to make a choice -- I want both.
SNOW: For "Good Morning America," Kate Snow, ABC News, New York.
SAWYER: And our thanks to Kate Snow. What is the bottom line from the debate? What happened in Nevada? Or is it Nevada? Just a few minutes ago, I spoke to ABC's chief Washington correspondent, host of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. All right, George, good to see you. So what's the headline from last night?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hillary's back. And the subhead I guess would be "no more Madam Nice Guy." She had a real change in strategy last night, Diane, all through these debates, before she's answered her opponent's charges but then trained her fire on President Bush. Last night, she counterattacked on Barack Obama on health care, on John Edwards on health care, on John Edwards on negative campaigning. She was going in there showing she could mix it up and fighting for a win.
SAWYER: There's something I want to ask you about, though, because it did seem to me that the crowd was on her side from the get-go and my question's going to be, first of all, how do you do that how do you ensure that? But also what effect did it have on the others? I'm going to play a moment, now, where they start booing when John Edwards, Senator john Edwards goes after her.
EDWARDS: Senator Clinton defends the system, takes money from lobbyists, does all those thing, and my point is simply -- [Audience booing] that people -- No, wait a minute, voters have those choices.
SAWYER: What about that, George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: It was remarkable, Diane. you're exactly right. On two occasions, that one you just showed, also another exchange later in the debate when Barack Obama counterattacked on the issue of Social Security, he got booed. And it did seem like Hillary had the crowd in her hands last night. Now, generally, these crowds are picked by the Democratic Party, each campaign gets an equal number of, of, of seats in these, in these debate halls. But last night, they were really signaling they did not like any sense at all of quote/unquote "piling on Hillary Clinton."
SAWYER: I want to ask you about something else. There's a new ad, a caucus, I guess, pep talk ad, that the Clintons have put out, which is pretty funny and takes a little bit of a risk. Let's watch it. It has to do in the beginning with the former President's dreaming, fantasy of a burger.
ANNOUNCER: Grade A beef, smothered in melted cheese, pickles, tomatoes and mayonnaise. Exercising is hard. [Clip of Hillary Clinton singing.] Singing is hard. Caucusing is easy.
SAWYER: Tell me about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Two part strategy. Two-part strategy right there. First of all, the Clintons do know all the time whenever they can show some self-deprecating humor to humanize her, especially, it's a good thing. Secondly, these caucuses on January 3, in Christmas week basically, on a Thursday, they know that one of the big challenges is going to be to get the people who kind of support Hillary, get them to the polls, get them to the caucuses. They're sending out these educational videos all across the state. They've got to convince these people who may not have caucused before it's not an onerous process, that you can get in, get it done and vote for the person you care about.
SAWYER: All right. Final, tough question, is it Nevada or Nevada?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I learned that one the hard way, Diane, when I did a forum in that state several months ago, I first said Nevada. I got booed by the crowd. It's Nevada.
SAWYER: All right, Nevada. I'm going to have to practice. How do we not know this? Thanks so much, George, in Nevada. George also said, by the way, it's now clearly a three-person race, Clinton, Obama and Edwards.