ABC Promises 'Nothing Off Limits' In Their Hillary Interview -- Just As They Did for a Syrupy 2003 Book Special

On ABC’s “The View,” they’ve already advertised their Diane Sawyer interview with Hillary Clinton, promoting her memoir of her State Department years, Hard Choices. An announcer says: “Monday night. Hillary Clinton. You know her life, public and private, both filled with hard choices. But what don't you know? Now she talks about it all. Nothing off limits. A Diane Sawyer exclusive. Monday at 9, 8 Central on ABC.”

This is almost exactly what ABC promised in 2003, advertising a two-hour Hillary special with Barbara Walters. (Video below)

ABC should have been investigated for false advertising. The promos that plugged that Hillary interview in 2003 promised, again and again for two weeks, to deliver "the interview we've all been waiting for, and the book that tells all. Sunday June 8th. Nothing's off limits."

Were "we all" waiting for this? ABC imagined that everyone’s heart bled for Hillary. "The book that tells all"? Hillary never tells all. "Nothing’s off limits"? ABC should be glad they didn’t offer this interview by pay-per-view, because everyone would be entitled to a refund. Barbara Walters left almost everything of importance off limits – on purpose.

When she wasn’t joining Hillary on picturesque walks through her childhood neighborhood and her ritzy new house in Chappaqua and asking her softball questions about her life story, Walters only asked questions that would please the Clinton-loving left. How could Hillary work with icky Tom DeLay, and senators who voted to impeach her husband? “I mean, no hard feelings? No remnants? Are you a saint?” She lamented that the poor Clintons were so hounded: "I can barely remember a week went by when one of you wasn't being criticized and investigated."

The financial scandals were brought up quickly and discarded. “You made investments in the commodities market, you dealt in real estate, Whitewater, you worked for the Rose law firm, all of which at the time you thought were very innocent. All of these things came back to haunt you. Was there anything you could've done differently?” Hillary admitted no tactical mistake, and no wrongdoing: “Well, Barbara, of course all of those things were made into political issues. And after all of the years of investigation, and all of the looking under rocks and all that was done, of course there wasn't anything wrong.”

Hillary had the same I’m-blameless answer when Walters touched briefly on her being called before Kenneth Starr’s grand jury over long-missing Whitewater documents: “Everything that was thrown at me, everything that was said turned out to be without basis in fact. But that didn't help at the time, because we had this out of control, zealous prosecutor who was on a partisan campaign to undermine Bill and me and everyone else.”

Walters flashed past the “vast right-wing conspiracy” controversy: "If I ask you straight up: Was there and is there a right-wing conspiracy to destroy your husband's presidency, would you today say yes?” Hillary claimed “there is a very well-financed, right wing network of people, It's not really a conspiracy because it's pretty much out in the light of day” and they “really stopped at nothing, even to the point of perverting the Constitution in order to undermine what he was trying to do for the country.” It’s always interesting to see Mrs. Clinton accuse someone else’s husband of “perverting” the country.

The biggest nail-polishing moment in the interview came when Walters turned to religion as she explained Hillary’s vacation at Martha’s Vineyard after Clinton was forced to admit adultery: “I don't think people realize how strong your faith is. It goes all through the book. It must have helped you then.” Hillary agreed: “It was the primary source of help to me. I was raised with faith, and that's a great gift to give a child, and I have relied on it. I've relied on prayer.” Again, no one questioned whether her lying about her husband’s behavior and her long record of attacking her husband’s previous accusers were a moral or religious failing. Instead, Walters insisted in one of her endless promotional interviews on ABC that “She’s a very religious woman.”

The most daring question (and yet unsurprising answer) came near the end where Walters asked, “Do you trust your husband totally today?” Hillary ducked: “You know, we've really been tried and tested. And we are at the point now that we're looking forward. I hope that we'll grow old together. That's how I look at our future.” Walters replied: “Okay. I have to ask it. What if he does something in the future that is similar?” Hillary wanted the question tucked back in her zone of privacy: “You know, that will be between us. And that will be that zone of privacy that I believe in.” Walters ended the interview by instructing Hillary to read a gooey paragraph from page 75, where she explained how she lovingly found her husband was still “the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met.”
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While everyone in the press hyped Hillary as promising presidential material in 2003, no one scrutinized her that way. They were not going to parse her every sentence for accuracy and tone. No one in the press even lifted an eyebrow at the "Author's Note" which began the book with these words: "In 1958, I wrote my autobiography for an assignment in sixth grade. In 29 pages..." In 29 pages? Even at 12, Hillary's ego was running amok.

As the publicity tour to promote Hillary's memoir began in June, the first official talking point was that Mrs. Clinton's autobiography was "candid." The Time magazine cover featuring her excerpt promised: "The former First Lady talks candidly about Bill, her public life and her private pain." On NBC, Tom Brokaw claimed "she's a lot more candid about her personal life and feelings than many had expected." On Today, Katie Couric echoed: "she's very candid about a very personal matter." Today news anchor Sara James added: "Mrs. Clinton writes candidly about the moment her husband admitted he's been unfaithful." On CBS's Early Show, reporter Tracy Smith touted how Hillary "describes in candid detail her pain and anguish over her husband's affair." Denied a Hillary interview, Early Show co-host Harry Smith interviewed her former campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson. What was his first impression? "I was impressed with Hillary's candor." On CNN's American Morning, another former Clinton publicist, Lisa Caputo, chimed in: "She's quite candid in the book, as you'll see." Caputo dropped the C-word twice more before her interview was finished. (She added it was "very candid" in her interview on Today.)

Her interviewers in the "mainstream" media chose to replay the surreal soap opera of Hillary, the Wronged Little Woman, and sold these dreary reruns as "candid" droppings of "bombshells." They couldn't imagine she was pretending. ABC's Barbara Walters stuck with the spin that she was struck dumb by love: "She's either the greatest actress in the whole world, or this is really, you know, you understand why the marriage works when you see how she talks about him."

CNN anchor Aaron Brown even puzzled over why anyone would care whether Hillary was lying or not: "What is all the fuss here, in a sense? What does it matter, when she actually found out or what words were used, why is this important?" Time magazine columnist Joe Klein agreed: "Well, it's not important, but it's fun. I mean, the marriage was the great mystery of the Clinton Administration."
 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis