Cynthia McFadden to Clinton: Comparisons to Palin Must 'Rankle You'

Cynthia McFadden, ABC, On Tuesday's "Nightline," co-anchor Cynthia McFadden conducted her second interview this week with Hillary Clinton and, once again, offered no policy questions and focused only on pushing the New York senator to bash Governor Sarah Palin. The liberal journalist repeatedly questioned, five times in total, variations on whether or not Palin is qualified or good for women. At one point she even asserted, "But it must rankle you, I mean, to be compared to Sarah Palin."

Below are McFadden's (unsuccessful) attempts to get Clinton to slam the Republican vice presidential nominee.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Is Sarah Palin good for women?

MCFADDEN: I feel like you're bending over backwards. I mean, I feel in some ways as if a man with the qualifications that Sarah Palin brings to this role, you'd have no problem with taking the gloves off and saying, hold it just a second.

MCFADDEN: Is she ready to serve as commander in chief, senator?

MCFADDEN: Does she deserve, does she have the right to stand on your shoulders in this regard?

MCFADDEN: But it must rankle you, I mean, to be compared to Sarah Palin.

The seeds for Cynthia McFadden's repeated questioning of Palin's qualifications and competence can, perhaps, be found in an online chat for the website Wowowow.com (Women on the Web) on September 9. McFadden discussed Palin with other female journalists, including Lesley Stahl, and marveled at how the selection of the Alaska governor fascinated the nation: "I think that it’s really been amazing — the dominance of this story and the Republicans throughout the last week, and I suspect going into this in the week to come."

She added, "But it’s interesting that the Democrats haven’t been able to get a wedge in there at all." At another point, after Stahl suggested that the Palin nomination might blow up in the Republicans' faces, McFadden retorted, "It may well yet." It would seem that McFadden, in her "Nightline" interview, attempted to do what she thought the Democrats weren't able to: Drive a wedge into Palin's support.

On Monday's "Nightline," McFadden fawned over Senator Barack Obama and Clinton, calling them "genuine" pals. For that interview she also asked no policy questions and instead gushed to the two Democrats, "You looked pretty good up there together."

A partial transcript of Tuesday's "Nightline" segment, which aired at 11:47pm on October 21, follows:

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: It seemed like a good day to talk to Hillary Clinton about the other most famous woman in politics. Is Sarah Palin good for women?

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I think that there has been a tendency in our discussions about Governor Palin's candidacy to sort of put it in this either/or. If you think the fact that she's on the ticket is a milestone, which I happen to think it is. She's obviously an accomplished political figure in her own right, having been elected governor of her state. Aren't many people who have done that. You can celebrate that and be, you know, very impressed by that, but still say the McCain/Palin ticket should not lead our country.

MCFADDEN: I feel like you're bending over backwards. I mean, I feel in some ways as if a man with the qualifications that Sarah Palin brings to this role, you'd have no problem with taking the gloves off and saying, hold it just a second.

CLINTON: I think that both Barack and Joe were very smart after an initial kind of misstep in pulling back and not criticizing Governor Palin personally. Issues, fair game. You know, absolutely, plans for the future, proposals, campaigning tactics, but let's just leave that to the field that we're on and let people draw their own conclusions.

MCFADDEN: Is she ready to serve as commander in chief, senator?

CLINTON: Well, I believe that our ticket is much better.

MCFADDEN: And yet, the Republican ticket seems to love her, in a not so subtle attempt to woo her voters they're embracing the woman they once vilified. Consider Sarah Palin's first speech as McCain's running mate.

GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.

MCFADDEN: Does she deserve, does she have the right to stand on your shoulders in this regard?

CLINTON: You know what, I think we all stand on other people's shoulders. I believe that you can hold two thoughts simultaneously. You can hold the thought that she's an extraordinary woman. But that doesn't mean that she and John McCain should lead our country. For a million reasons that I think people understand.

MCFADDEN: But it must rankle you, I mean, to be compared to Sarah Palin.

CLINTON: It doesn't. None of this rankles me at all. I mean it really doesn't.

MCFADDEN: You said something just a moment ago downstairs that I must say made sit up straighter.

CLINTON: [Speech clip]: You know, I didn't set out to run as a woman for president, but that's the only way I could run. [Clip ends] Well, I was really saying, you know, I didn't consider myself the woman candidate. Although obviously I was. I mean, that's who I am. But as I got into the campaign and realized that's how people were seeing me, for better or for worse in some situations, that there was this historical burden that I was carrying, that I had not anticipated. It became apparent that there's a lot of unfinished business in our country when it comes to gender.

MCFADDEN: So was it ultimately better? Was it ultimately more helpful or harmful to be a woman running for president?

CLINTON: I'll have to think about that. I don't know what the answer is.

MCFADDEN: And that in itself is quite remarkable from a woman who usually has an answer for everything. What she does know is that for at least the next two weeks she'll be focused like a laser on getting Barack Obama elected to the job that only four months ago she still thought might be hers. I asked Senator Clinton about her future plans, whether if Obama is elected president she'd like to serve in his cabinet or perhaps even on the Supreme Court. She said she was very content to stay in the U.S. Senate. Martin?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org