CNN's Mixed Signals: Lewinsky Scandal Casts Doubt on Hillary, But GOP Shouldn't Raise It

Thursday's New Day on CNN hyped Monica Lewinsky's Vanity Fair article and acknowledged that former President Clinton's sex scandal with the now former White House intern casts doubt on Hillary Clinton's credibility in the realm of women's issues. Chris Cuomo noted that Lewinsky "makes a decent case that women, who are all gathering around Hillary as the obvious choice for them, may want to rethink it, based on how she characterizes her role in her husband's affair."

Panelists Amy Chozick of the New York Times and Republican strategist Margaret Hoover agreed with Cuomo's point, but all three, along with anchor Kate Bolduan, played up the "delicate position" for Republicans if they raised the Lewinsky scandal in a potential presidential race against Hillary Clinton. Hoover hyped that Mrs. Clinton would likely gain an advantage from the issue: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: ...There's no reason to pursue this. And also, she's a victim. Hillary has always done best consistently when she's a victim of the press or a victim of her circumstances. So there's no reason for Republicans to pursue this. And, frankly – yeah, she had a 66 percent approval rating when she was first lady during this, and 66 percent approval rating at her height as secretary of state.

Cuomo labeled the Lewinsky piece a "must read," and soon raised his "provocative" point about how the article might cause women to reconsider their support of the former New York senator. His Republican guest remarked that the former intern "raises the hypocrisy of the feminism of the late '90s, which is a really important point. She says her [Clinton] impulse to blame the woman, whether it's herself or me, is deeply troubling. And I think women, obviously, need to think about that. But she calls out the hypocrisy of the women who rallied this man – if this is George W. Bush, there's no way women would have defended him."

The New York Time reporter then added that "that's a really important issue, I think, for Hillary Clinton....Yesterday, she's at another event about women and girls. She's this champion of women, especially in her post-State Department role. She's really been focusing on this issue. And I just wonder...are people are going to say, wait, you didn't see anything exploitative about that? Obviously, there are all kinds of emotions involved, but I think that's a good point in terms of her as this global feminist icon."

Later in the segment, Hoover asserted that "there's no way Hillary doesn't have to comment on this at some point." Bolduan replied, "You really think so? She's really never needed to. Amy, you cover her a lot. Do you think she needs to? I don't know." Chozick contended that "she will avoid this. She will not answer the question if she gets it.... I mean, they're hand-picking the events that are very light, and I don't think she's going to get."

The CNN anchors and their guests continued with their "move on" advice to Republicans on the issue:


KATE BOLDUAN: ...[L]et's step into the political for a second: does this also put Republicans in a very delicate position, where some Republicans may be on the cable nets don't do the delicate dance very well if they take this on, though, Margaret?

AMY CHOZICK, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: But I think, though – I mean, the important thing to remember is Hillary Clinton had her highest approval ratings ever during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I do not think this is something that necessarily sticks to her – her husband's mistakes.

HOOVER: (unintelligible) Bad choice-

BOLDUAN: Do Republicans even want to take it on? Do Republicans even want to take it on? Ana Navarro yesterday was saying Republicans don't want to deal with this. Everybody is ready to move on.

HOOVER: It's true. Nobody wants to deal with this.

CHRIS CUOMO: You're not winning on – on your morality anymore-

BOLDUAN: Right – there's other stuff to talk about.

HOOVER: There's plenty to talk about. There's no reason to pursue this. And also, she's a victim. Hillary has always done best consistently when she's a victim of the press or a victim of her circumstances. So there's no reason for Republicans to pursue this. And, frankly – yeah, she had a 66 percent approval rating when she was first lady during this, and 66 percent approval rating at her height as secretary of state.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center