Friday, 09 September 2016

Hillary's First Press Conference in 278 Days? More Like a Media Love-in

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“I love you, Andrea. You are indefatigable. You’re my kind of woman.” That was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s greeting to veteran NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, one of the select reporters invited to Clinton’s “press conference” Thursday, her first in 278 days. Mitchell’s question was inaudible, and Clinton responded with a simple “Yes.” Clinton jokingly complimented another reporter on his wardrobe change-up. She took a cream-puff question about why she wasn’t soundly trouncing Trump, since he has such high negatives. And another asked her to respond to Republican criticism that she hadn’t smiled enough during her one-on-one with NBC’s Matt Lauer the previous night, and if she is the victim of a double standard. It was more of a love-fest than an actual press conference.

What about questions concerning her national security/e-mail scandal, the $100 million-plus Clinton Foundation pay-to-play scandals, the Uranium One-Russia dealBenghazi, and a host of additional "problem" issues for Hillary? Zero. Nada. Zip. Not important, apparently — although millions of Americans would certainly beg to differ. 

“Ridiculously Sycophantic” Continues to Apply

So, did Hillary Clinton really break her 278-day press conference drought with her much-ballyhooed September 8 media event? That’s how it’s being reported, generally, in the establishment media. But the 16-minute program (see video and transcript) on the airport tarmac at White Plains, New York, was barely less scripted than her “pickle jar” sit-down with comedian Jimmy Fallon or any of the other “more than 300 interviews” Clinton’s campaign manager boasts Clinton has given.

Much of the short “press conference” at White Plains was eaten up by Clinton’s preliminary rant bashing Donald Trump, and the few questions taken from friendly reporters never even ventured close to being substantive, let alone adversarial. Not surprisingly, much of the Clinton-friendly media treated the faux press conference as a legitimate event, with many reports putting an heroic, pro-Clinton spin on it, such as this one from the Boston Herald: “Hillary Clinton comes out blazing in rare presser.”

However, even some liberal-left Hillary supporters in the media gallery have grown frustrated with Clinton for not holding a real press conference since last December, and have griped about their lack of access. And CNN’s Jake Tapper echoed the concerns of many Americans about the liberal-left media when he criticized his journalist colleagues this past June for asking Hillary “ridiculously sycophantic questions,” while at the same time playing hardball with Donald Trump. “Ridiculously sycophantic” continues to apply.

Clinton Campaign: The Media Are Biased Against Hillary

But as ridiculously sycophantic and biased for Hillary Clinton as the editorial and reportorial corps of the major media are, the running narrative from the Clinton campaign is that the press corps is sexist and actually hates her and treats her unfairly, because she’s a woman. This Hillary victim-of-biased-media theme came to full blossom following NBC’s Trump-Clinton Commander-In-Chief Forum with Matt Lauer on September 7. Following the program, Lauer has been the recipient of an ongoing avalanche of criticism and condemnation from fellow reporters, commentators, and bloggers for allegedly being too hard on Clinton and too soft on Trump. Among other things, he was criticized for pressing Clinton on the national security implications of her e-mail scandal and for not challenging Trump on his statement regarding his opposition to the Iraq War. Lauer was also scorched for interrupting Clinton “repeatedly.” As it turns out, however, Lauer interrupted Trump almost twice as much as he did Clinton, the whining complaints of Team Hillary notwithstanding. Here’s the interruption count as tabulated by the Media Research Center:

Lauer did interrupt Mrs. Clinton seven times — relatively politely — and allowed Former Air Force & Navy flight officer Lt. John Lester to criticize her for having “clearly corrupted our national security,” and for taking actions for which he “would have been prosecuted and imprisoned.” The Today Show host, perhaps realizing that he had some lefty credibility to regain, appeared to try to overcompensate with Trump. He was much tougher on him, interrupting 13 times, and far more confrontationally.

It is now 279 days since Hillary Clinton has held a press conference, and American voters still have not seen the media elites make any serious effort to force her to answer the kinds of tough questions that someone seeking the highest office in the land should have to face.

Photo of Hillary Clinton answering questions on the airport tarmac at White Plains, New York, on Sept. 8, 2016: AP Images

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