Networks Gush Over Jon Stewart's 'Creative' Softballs to Hillary, Getting 'Real Answers'

On Wednesday, all three network morning shows eagerly promoted Hillary Clinton's friendly chat with Jon Stewart on Tuesday's Daily Show. On NBC's Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie praised Stewart for finding a "creative way" of pleading for Clinton to announce her 2016 presidential bid. Following a clip of the softball exchange, Guthrie declared: "Well played, Jon Stewart, well played." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

On CBS This Morning, fill-in co-host Margaret Brennan teased the story by portraying Stewart's show as a hostile environment for Clinton: "Hillary Clinton enters the lion's den with Jon Stewart. Can a fake news anchor get real answers about 2016, finally?" Fellow co-host Gayle King later introduced the segment by proclaiming that Clinton had "sat down last night with another important political player" in Stewart.

Despite Brennan's "lion's den" remark, correspondent Nancy Cordes accurately described the interview as "a mostly friendly encounter."

Wrapping up coverage of the Clinton-Stewart sit-down on ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos observed: "And you've got to give Jon Stewart credit. He used the jokes to get the best way of getting her to answer that question yet." White House correspondent Jon Karl agreed: "Absolutely, no question about that."

Unlike NBC, both CBS and ABC actually took the time to point out Clinton's sagging book sales.

On This Morning, Cordes informed viewers: "Clinton's appearance was partially designed to boost lagging sales of her new book, Hard Choices, which was just knocked out of its top slot on the New York Times bestseller list by a salacious unauthorized biography of the Clintons."

On GMA, Karl similarly noted:

The appearance on The Daily Show comes at the end of one of the most aggressive book rollouts, political book rollouts that we have seen.  But while there's been a lot of publicity, and the book has sold pretty well, George it has now been replaced at the top of the New York Times bestseller list by a book that is harshly negative about Hillary Clinton.

In addition, Karl also mentioned Clinton's stumbles during the book tour:

KARL: Hillary's media blitz has not been all laughs. She's come under fire for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from colleges and universities where students are facing tuition hikes and she's been called tone deaf for saying this to Diane Sawyer:

CLINTON: We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. That was an artful use of words obviously.

Cordes did not mention the "dead broke" gaffe on CBS and NBC didn't bother to mention anything negative about Clinton while touting her appearance with Stewart.


Here are full transcripts of the July 16 morning show segments:

Today
8:07 AM ET TEASE

MATT LAUER: Coming up next on Trending, does Hillary Clinton prefer an office at home or perhaps an oval one? How Jon Stewart tried to get her to say she's running for president.

8:11 AM SEGMENT [8:11:34 - 8:12:53, 1 min 19 sec]

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, we're back at 8:11, time for What's Trending Today. We're gonna start this Wednesday morning with Hillary Clinton. You may have heard she's on a book tour. And she has been asked a thousand different ways, is she going to run for president? And I think we had heard really every way you could ask this question, but no. Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night had kind of a creative way of getting at the issue. Take a look.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Hillary 2016?; Clinton & Jon Stewart Joke About Possible Campaign]

JON STEWART: Do you prefer to sit in traffic or cause it?

HILLARY CLINTON: I'd prefer not to cause traffic.

STEWART: Do you like commuting to work or do you like a home office?

CLINTON: You know, I've spent so many years commuting, I'd kind of prefer a home office.

STEWART: Alright. Do you have a favorite shape for that home office? Do you like that office, let's say, would you like that office – would you like it to have corners or would you like it not to have corners? I don't know.

CLINTON: You know, I think that the world is so complicated, the fewer corners that you can have, the better.

[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]

NATALIE MORALES: Good answer.

GUTHRIE: Well played, Jon Stewart, well played. He called it a career aptitude test. And at the end of it he concluded that Hillary Clinton is probably running for office.

LAUER: I love that little move he does when he asks a question [puts his finger up to mouth].

CARSON DALY: She kept trying to bring it back to the book and he was like, "No one cares, we just want to know if you're running for office.

AL ROKER: There you go. And she's got that laugh.

LAUER: I know.  


CBS This Morning
7:17 AM ET TEASE:

MARGARET BRENNAN: Hillary Clinton enters the lion's den with Jon Stewart. Can a fake news anchor get real answers about 2016, finally? We'll tell you.

7:30 AM ET SEGMENT:

GAYLE KING: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down last night with another important political player, Daily Show host Jon Stewart. He gave her many chances to spell out her future. She might have let something slip, some people say. Nancy Cordes is in Washington, where Clinton supporters and opponents are all looking for any kind of hints that they can. Nancy, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Daily Showdown; Stewart Tosses 2016 Curveballs at Clinton]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. It was her third time on the show. It was a mostly friendly encounter. And Stewart wanted to know what it's like to have her every word parsed and analyzed by her friends and her foes. And he argued that the fact she's still willing to endure it means she's probably gonna run.

JON STEWART: I have a – it's like a career aptitude test and it can help you.

HILLARY CLINTON: This is good.

CORDES: Jon Stewart used what else, humor, to gauge Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions.

STEWART: Do you like commuting to work or you do like a home office? What's your-

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I've spent so many years commuting, I'd kind of prefer a home office.

STEWART: Do you have a favorite shape for that home office?

CLINTON: Clinton's appearance was partially designed to boost lagging sales of her new book, Hard Choices, which was just knocked out of its top slot on the New York Times bestseller list by a salacious unauthorized biography of the Clintons.

Still, supporters swarm her book signings by the hundreds. And while the former Secretary of State has not formally announced plans to run, outside her events, volunteers for an unaffiliated group called Ready for Hillary have already started gathering grassroots supporters. While Clinton considers her options, Ready for Hillary has hired twenty-seven staffers and raised more than $8 million through donations and the sale of kitschy Clinton gear.

ADAM PARKHOMENKO: The onesies have been huge, they're sold out after the big Chelsea news.

CORDES: Adam Parkhomenko is the executive director.

PARKHOMENKO: In 2008 she really didn't have a group of supporters that she could go back and ask to chip in $5 or knock on doors and make calls. So want to make sure that this time if she does that, they're there.

CORDES: His group has plenty of company.

BURNS STRIDER: The best defense is a good offense.

CORDES: Burns Strider runs Correct the Record, where a couple dozen staffers worked to rapidly counter criticism of everything from Clinton's speaking fees to her record at the State Department.

STRIDER: You don't let an attack, you don't let a news story, you don't let something sit idly by and just think it's gonna play out on its own.

CORDES: There are just as many groups on the right, like The Hillary Project, which vows to, quote, "wage a way on Hillary Clinton's image." Garrett Marquis says his group, Stop Hillary PAC, will start going after Clinton this year, in both advertisements and online.

GARRETT MARQUIS: She has a liberal machine that's behind her. She's already started activating. There's no doubt she's campaigning for president, although quietly. And so somebody, us, needs to come about and stop her. And that's what we're doing.

CORDES: The shadow campaign for and against Clinton is so intense she joked about it herself last night.

STEWART: If you said, "I am not running for president." It all stops. Do you agree or disagree?

CLINTON: I think a lot of people would lose their jobs if it all stopped. I've been amazed at what a cottage industry it is, and so I kind of expect it would continue.

CORDES: Especially because she had sent no signal to her supporting groups that they should stop raising money and gathering names. In fact, last night when Stewart asked her what shape of office she likes best, she said the kind without any sharp corners.

We should mention, Margaret, that Clinton's book is published by Simon & Schuster, which is a division of CBS.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Always a good way to get around the direct answer.

KING: I was curious to see how he was going do it, Margaret. But the truth of the matter is, Mrs. Clinton will let us know when she's ready.

BRENNAN: Exactly.

KING: It's not gonna slip out, it's not gonna be by mistake. It will be very strategic however she does it, if she does it.

BRENNAN: Exactly.


Good Morning America
7:09 AM ET

LARA SPENCER: Now, George, I know there was some very interesting TV last night. Jon Stewart/Hillary Clinton.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. She's had this summer-long book tour, has all the trappings of a presidential campaign. Well last night when she sat down with Stewart she really dropped some of her biggest hints yet about a real run. ABC's Jon Karl was watching, he joins us now with the details. Good morning Jon.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Clinton Takes on Jon Stewart; Jokes About Running for President]

JONATHAN KARL: Good morning George. Well after a media blitz that hasn't always gone all that smoothly, Hillary Clinton received a friendlier reception last night from Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart began by saying Hillary Clinton was going to make a big announcement on his show.

JON STEWART: She is here solely and for one reason, to publicly and definitively declare her candidacy for the President of the United States.

KARL: When she came on stage she didn't make any declarations but amidst all the joking, she came pretty close.

STEWART: I think I speak for everybody when I say no one cares, they just want to know if you're running for president.

HILLARY CLINTON: : I was going to make an announcement but I saw – you kind of spoiled it for me.

STEWART: No, no so that's a yes.

CLINTON: The big spoiler. So, you know, I'm just going to have to reconsider.

STEWART: Sure.

CLINTON: Where I go do it.

STEWART: There's a little confusion here. Do you like commuting to wok or do you like a home office. What's your --

CLINTON: You know, I've spent so many years commuting I'd kind of prefer a home office.

STEWART: Would you like to have corners or would you like it to not have corners? I don't know.

CLINTON: You know, I think that the world is so complicated, the fewer corners that you can have are better.

KARL: Hillary's media blitz has not been all laughs. She's come under fire for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from colleges and universities where students are facing tuition hikes and she's been called tone deaf for saying this to Diane Sawyer.

CLINTON: We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. That was an artful use of words obviously.

KARL: The appearance on The Daily Show comes at the end of one of the most aggressive book rollouts, political book rollouts that we have seen.  But while there's been a lot of publicity, and the book has sold pretty well, George it has now  been replaced at the top of the New York Times bestseller list by a book that is harshly negative about Hillary Clinton.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, you see both sides there Jon. And you've got to give Jon Stewart credit. He used the jokes to get the best way of getting her to answer that question yet.

KARL: Absolutely, no question about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jon Karl, thanks very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC