On Monday’s "Good Morning America," ABC reporter Kate Snow rose to the defense of Hillary Clinton and the fact that she’s been seen manically giggling in many interviews. Referencing the mocking that the Democratic presidential candidate has taken on "The Daily Show" and other places, Snow asserted that either Hillary Clinton is either "having a really good time out on the campaign trail, 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." So, the former First Lady is vibrant and fun-loving or brilliant in a good natured way? Those are the only two options?
During the segment, only Democratic operatives or Clinton campaign officials were asked to explain the candidate’s recent outburst of giggles (except for a brief "Daily Show" clip). According to Snow, "Her inner circle insists her laugh is not calculated. It's natural." Clinton operative Capricia Marshall found Hillary’s laughter to be "contagious." Democratic strategist Chris Lehane glowingly described the cackling as "smart and pretty adroit." What else would ABC and Kate Snow expect them to say?
Co-host Robin Roberts introduced the piece by sympathetically observing of Clinton, "...It is not easy being the front-runner." An ABC graphic defensively read, "Laughing in Face of Critics: The Debate Over Clinton Chuckle" And despite the friendly nature of the piece, the GMA host and reporter seemed embarrassed to even be talking about it. Almost apologizing, Snow asserted, "Okay, maybe we are over analyzing a little bit here" and deemed the giggling to be a political weapon. After playing a clip of Clinton defending her laughter by saying that she had been slammed previously for not laughing enough, Roberts agreed. She added, "But she has a bit of a point there. When a lot of people were critical of her because she wasn't showing a sense of humor and then she does do that–" Snow quickly interrupted to concur that "when you're a front-runner, you get it from everybody."
In contrast, even the New York Times managed to show some more skepticism then Ms. Snow. In a September 30 piece by Patrick Healy, the Times made the point that GMA dared not mention. The laughter can just come across as odd:
The weirdest moment was with Bob Schieffer on the CBS News program "Face the Nation" when Mr. Schieffer said to Mrs. Clinton, "You rolled out your new health care plan, something Republicans immediately said is going to lead to socialized medicine." She giggled, giggled some more, and then could not seem to stop giggling — "Sorry, Bob," she said — and finally unleashed the full Cackle.
The Schieffer moment seemed particularly calculated because Mrs. Clinton has most certainly not laughed in other settings when she has been accused of pursuing socialized medicine. She faced that accusation at a forum in Las Vegas this summer, for instance; she turned frosty and traded barbs with the audience member who made the assertion. It was clearly no laughing matter there.
ABC viewers probably should expect more of this type of reporting. After all, "Good Morning America" is the program that, in January, identified the battle between Clinton and Obama as "hot factor" versus "fluid poetry."
A transcript of the October 1 segment, which aired at 7:43am follows:
Robin Roberts: "As we showed you earlier this morning, it is not easy being the front-runner. ‘Saturday Night Live’ took some, well, liberty with Hillary Clinton and they're not the only ones. Now, Senator Clinton’s getting some scrutiny because of her laugh. GMA Weekend anchor Kate Snow has more on that. A lot of people are writing about this and talking about this."
ABC Graphic: "Laughing in Face of Critics: The Debate Over Clinton Chuckle"
Kate Snow: "A lot of people. We’ve been talking about it for weeks here, Robin. Depending on who you ask, Hillary Clinton is either having a really good time out on the campaign trail, 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. She's taking hits from all sides. At debates."
Former Senator Mike Gravel: "And I'm ashamed of you, Hillary."
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson: "I also disagree with Senator Clinton."
Snow: "On the internet."
Political ad: "Hillary Clinton is turning her back on them."
Snow: "On the trail."
Senator Obama (D-ILL): "Even the senator of New York wasn't clear about the Yankees."
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: HillaryCare continues to be bad medicine."
Snow: "So, no surprise Hillary Clinton has an arsenal ready to take on her attackers. There's the slow giggle. [Hillary giggles.] The ‘I-can't-believe-he-just-said-that’ chuckle of disbelief. [Hillary laughing] And then there's the full Hillary."
Chris Wallace: "A partisan view of politics."
[Clinton laughs hysterically]
Snow: "Jon Stewart had a field day on the Daily Show."
Jon Stewart: "To the untrained eye, that looks like a satellite delay, but that was not a satellite interview. This is what is really is."
Wallace: "Send my best to the President."
Computerized voice: "Humorous remark detected. Prepare for laughter display in two, one, go."
[Clinton laughs hysterically]
Snow: "Her inner circle insists her laugh is not calculated. It's natural."
Unidentified Hillary advisor: "It comes from her soul."
Capricia Marshall (Hillary Clinton campaign Women’s Outreach): "It’s contagious."
First unidentified Hillary advisor: "Yeah. It’s really, like– It’s so heartfelt."
Snow: "But when you're the front runner with a lot of baggage, laughter can also be a savvy political move."
Chris Lehane (Democratic strategist): "She is someone who finds some humor in these things, but also, it's also smart and pretty adroit to, you know, take the questions, sluff [sic] them off and move on to what she wants to talk about and I think the laugh has served as a pretty effective tool."
Snow: "Back in January, she made a joke about dealing with evil and bad men. And when reporters kept pushing about who she was referring to–"
Clinton: "I thought I was funny. You know, you guys keep telling me, lighten up, be funny. You know, I get a little funny and now I'm being psychoanalyzed."
Roberts: "It’s true."
Snow: "Okay, maybe we are over analyzing a little bit here. One Clinton spokesperson said sarcastically yesterday, ‘Breaking news, the Senator laughs.’ But as Mark Twain once said Robin, ‘The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter. That’s Mark Twain’s quote and in politics, you need all of the weapons you can get."
Roberts: "Yes, you can. But she has a bit of a point there. When a lot of people were critical of her because she wasn't showing a sense of humor and then she does do that–"
Snow: "Right. And when you're a front-runner, you get it from everybody."
Roberts: "Oh, yeah. All right. You’ve got a nice laugh, Kate. See there. We won't overanalyze that."