Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman Slams Hillary’s ‘We Struggled’ Claim, Calls It ‘Disastrous Comment’

Hillary Clinton made her first TV appearance on Monday, June 9 to promote her new book Hard Choices, and already the former Secretary of State is causing quite a bit of controversy. During an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Clinton claimed that she and Bill “struggled” after leaving the White House and were “not only dead broke, but in debt.”

In the wake of Clinton’s gaffe, during a segment on MSNBC’s The Cycle, Howard Fineman, Editorial Director of the liberal Huffington Post, and a usually reliable liberal voice on MSNBC, chastised Clinton’s claim of hardship and insisted “That was a disastrous comment yesterday that she struggled. She didn't struggle.” [See video below.]  

Fineman continued to criticize Clinton: 

I mean, the fact is that she had an $8 million book advance waiting for her in the offing that Bob Barnett was negotiating. They had two houses, one on a very fancy street in Washington, one in Chappaquah. They were bankable stars to say the least. And for her to use the word struggle was probably offensive to even some Democrats who otherwise adore her. 

The Huffington Post editor then called out Clinton’s blatant attempt at damage control:

So that's why she was back on TV trying to dig herself out of that. Do I think it's going to define her new candidacy? No. But was it a way to sort of stumble on what was a carefully if not obsessively planned book tour right on the first day? Absolutely yes. 

While the MSNBC contributor didn’t hold anything back during his condemnation of Ms. Clinton, Cycle co-host Toure did his best to provide cover for her: 

But the fact of the matter is, that it is actually accurate. In 2000 they had about $800,000 in assets and they had about $10 or $11 million in legal bills. Now that changed very quickly. It was pretty much gone by 2004. But the fact of the matter is what she's saying is accurate because middle class people have a hard time making it work in public service. 

Kudos to Fineman for being intellectually honest regarding Hillary’s gaffe rather than rushing to defend her like MSNBC host Toure did.

See relevant transcript below. 


MSNBC

The Cycle 

June 10, 2014

3:40 p.m. Eastern 

TOURE: Hillary Clinton mania has landed in New York City. Why did I leave? Hillary officially started her campaign -- I mean her book tour this morning. More than a thousand people eagerly awaited outside Barnes & Noble for the release of her much anticipated new book "Hard Choices." And once inside, attendees were told they'd have an entire 4 seconds to meet our possible future presidential candidate. Clearly not exactly enough time to ask her about the controversy she's already running against even before she's running that she and Bill were, quote, dead broke, when they moved out of The White House. She tried to clarify that this morning on ABC. 

HILLARY CLINTON: We came out of The White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there. And we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea's education. It was not easy. Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today. It's an issue that I've worked on and cared about my entire adult life. Bill and I were obviously blessed. We worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we have continued to work hard and we've been blessed in the last 14 years. 

TOURE: If you want to hear more from Hillary, and really who doesn't, tune in for the full interview tonight on "NBC Nightly News.” As we like to say check your local listings. But first, more on Hillary's campaign -- I mean book tour. Why do I keep getting that wrong? With Howard Fineman, Editorial Director at The Huffington Post. Howard look, this is a tone-deaf comment when you are the ex-president, you know, you are only broke on paper. You have an opportunity and an ability to make money like few people in America. But the fact of the matter is, that it is actually accurate. In 2000 they had about $800,000 in assets and they had about $10 or $11 million in legal bills. Now that changed very quickly. It was pretty much gone by 2004. But the fact of the matter is what she's saying is accurate because middle class people have a hard time making it work in public service. 

HOWARD FINEMAN: Okay. Well, first let me say, Toure, I miss you because I'm here in new York. 

ABBY HUNTSMAN: He's finally joined us at the table it’s a pretty special day.

FINEMAN: And I decided to come over and see you guys from D.C. And lucky for me actually you're gone because I'm here with both Krystal and Abby by myself so--As to Hillary, come on. That was a disastrous comment yesterday that she struggled. She didn't struggle. I mean, the fact is that she had an $8 million book advance waiting for her in the offing that Bob Barnett was negotiating. They had two houses, one on a very fancy street in Washington, one in Chappaquah. They were bankable stars to say the least. And for her to use the word struggle was probably offensive to even some Democrats who otherwise adore her. So that's why she was back on TV trying to dig herself out of that. Do I think it's going to define her new candidacy? No. But was it a way to sort of stumble on what was a carefully if not obsessively planned book tour right on the first day? Absolutely yes.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.