GMA Touts Hillary-Obama Battle as ‘Hot Factor’ vs. ‘Fluid Poetry’

On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Claire Shipman effusively previewed the looming presidential battle between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. How, Shipman wondered, would Obama’s "fluid poetry" stand up against Mrs. Clinton’s "hot factor?" The tone of the January 18 piece seemed to indicate that, although members of the media may think both candidates are terrific, Obama hasn’t lost his "flavor of the month" status. In the segment, Shipman noted the New York Senator’s flip-flops on Iraq and that, despite being a "devout Methodist," she rarely talks about religion. However, it was this over-the-top praise that really demonstrated who the current media darling is:

Claire Shipman: "Though the change in [Clinton’s] views also mirrors the nation’s and the increasingly grim situation in Iraq, she could appear politically calculating while Obama seems principled. And the side-by-side talent show? Next to Obama's fluid poetry, Hillary Clinton's delivery can seem overly cautious."

A few minutes earlier, at 7:14am, Shipman began the piece by chronicling Clinton’s shifting positions on Iraq:

Diane Sawyer: "On the political front, from the Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York ramped up her attack on the White House yesterday, calling for a ceiling or a cap on the number of troops sent to Iraq. But a lot of people were wondering, is Senator Clinton feeling the heat, the pressure from someone else? Illinois Senator Barack Obama. GMA senior national correspondent Claire Shipman leads us off."

Shipman: "Call it Obama wave collides with Clinton juggernaut."

[Brief clip from ‘The David Letterman Show’]

Shipman: "At the very least, it's unsettling for the Hillary machine. Look at the Iraq match-up: Obama, who had the good luck not to be in the Senate for the original vote, has steadily opposed the war. But listen to Hillary Clinton's evolution. From this--"

Hillary Clinton: "What I have said is, I do think we do need more troops."

Shipman: "To this--"

Clinton: "Mr. Secretary, you are presiding over a failed policy."

Shipman: "To this--"

Clinton: "The bottom line is we have to change course."

Shipman: "Though the change in her views also mirrors the nation’s and the increasingly grim situation in Iraq, she could appear politically calculating while Obama seems principled. And the side-by-side talent show? Next to Obama's fluid poetry, Hillary Clinton's delivery can seem overly cautious."

Dee Dee Myers (Fmr. Clinton Press Secretary) "Senator Clinton can be very compelling in front of a crowd. On the other hand, Senator Obama has a gift. And there are certain things in politics you can't teach."

Shipman quickly backtracked, noting the New York Senator’s "hot factor" and how both Obama and Clinton are equally glamorous:

Shipman: "A devout Methodist, Hillary Clinton, for example, talks rarely about religion, while Obama talks freely about faith."

Obama: "I believe we all rise up together or we fall together."

Shipman: "And in the glamour game? It would have to be a draw right now. Hillary Clinton has been the unparalleled star of the Democratic Party. Her power hard-earned and palpable. Her 'hot factor' given a substantial boost by her ever-popular husband. But Barack Obama, with his fairy tale family, has personal charisma to spare. He's selling fresh eyes for the future. But look at who has been more reliable road-tested. Obama doesn't make a dent in her advantage."

Myers: "Senator Clinton brings things to the table like tenacity, resilience, the ability to take a punch. We don't know whether Senator Obama can do that."

Shipman: "Certainly, a lot of questions remain about the campaign trail prowess of both senators. But as you can see, there will be a lot of jostling between these two white hot, likely presidential candidates."

How, exactly, is Hillary Clinton "white hot?" According to a new Zogby survey, she’s tied for third in Iowa and fourth in another poll. And Obama’s hype is almost completely media generated. But, covering these issues would probably be too much to ask for from the "mainstream media." So, the battle is between Obama, with his "fresh eyes for the future" and the "hot," road tested Clinton. Expect more of this hard hitting coverage as the primaries draw closer.

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