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Posted by on May 20, 2015 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Scandals | 17 comments

Hillary Clinton Finally Goaded Into Taking A Handful Of Questions From The Press

Clinton Takes Questions NBC

One joke going around the blogosphere this morning was that John Kerry was planning on running for the presidential nomination and was responsible for the State Department’s announcement that Hillary Clinton’s email would be released in January–just prior to the Iowa caucus. Subsequently a district judge ruled that the State Department must submit a new schedule with periodic release of the email in order to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests. In other words, the email will drip out, keeping the story alive for months.

After failing to comply with regulations to archive her email on government servers, Clinton now says she wants them released more rapidly. I would think at this point she would prefer to have them released ASAP. It is better politically for her to have this all come out now, at this early stage in the campaign, as opposed to either just before the Iowa caucuses (as initially planned by the State Department) or periodically over months as now planned. She probably would have been been better off sending them to the State Department in electronic format, as opposed to printing them forcing the State Department to scan them, slowing down the process.

Of course this would not have been an issue if she had archived them with the government at the time as required.

It is hard to believe there is anything damaging to her in what will be released. She already went through and destroyed anything she didn’t want released and the State Department also went through the email. It is especially doubtful there ever was anything incriminating on Benghazi. I bet that at worst her email would show the normal fog of war when people legitimately were not certain what happened and different views were honestly expressed, with no evidence of the conservative conspiracy theories. Anything really interesting related to the recent scandals has probably already been deleted.

Clinton gave in and answered some questions from the media , for the first time in about a month, after receiving increased criticism from both Republicans and the media for failing to do so. This morning The Note from ABC News posted Clinton’s excuse for not taking questions:

Clinton opened her remarks in Iowa yesterday by explaining why she is doing these small, intimate gatherings. She didn’t mention the press specifically, but it almost seemed like her way of telling people to stop nagging: “Somebody asked me the other day, ‘well you’re going to these events where you’re taking time to actually talk and listen to people, is that really what you’re going to do?’ And I said, ‘well yes it is.’ Not only do I learn a lot but I also feel like it’s the best way to make those connections that will not only give me a firm foundation here in Iowa or primary in New Hampshire. It really is about people to people connections.”

Rick Klein subsequently mocked this argument from Clinton supporters:

The latest piece of spin from Hillary Clinton’s backers on why she doesn’t need to answer reporters’ questions is that she’s doing a great job doing the asking, not the answering. An email to reporters from the pro-Clinton super PAC “Correct the Record” claims that she is “putting the voters first” by asking “the questions that really matter.” Among the more than 100 questions Correct the Record has counted of her asking real people things a “true leader” would ask are such probing queries as, “What are your hours of operation?”; “So how did you end up here? Did you hear about it?”; “And you’ve got two little girls?”; “So we’re in your classroom?”; and, “So, starting early?” (Again, this was compiled by the main super PAC SUPPORTING the Clinton candidacy.) According to Correct the Record’s email, “While other candidates are using the media to further their own agendas and attack each other, Hillary Clinton is displaying the qualities of a true leader by meeting with the people she hopes to champion as the next President of the United States.” OK, then. The best that might be said of this attempt to explain her lack of press access is that it sounds better than the truth: That she doesn’t care to answer questions from reporters because, at the moment, her campaign sees more downside than upside in doing so. To quote the candidate who’s making a claim to being the best asker of the election cycle, if not the best answerer, “Give me a sense of your experience with that.”

Chris Cillizza also commented:

I mean, where to start with this?

1. The vast majority of the people who have asked Clinton questions in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada were part of a pre-selected group who sat with her around a roundtable. That’s not exactly like hosting a town hall event in which none of the questions are pre-screened. And if you look at the questions “regular” people are asking Clinton, they are not exactly the most probing of queries. A sampling: “I’m just wondering, what can you do to bring that heart back to education in the United States?” (Iowa), “What are your plans to help my community and help us not live in fear anymore?” (Nevada) and “I would like you to elaborate on what you think you might do for childcare in the future if you’re elected?” (New Hampshire) None of those questions are bad, per se, but they also aren’t pushing Clinton in any way, shape or form on any issue.

2. It makes zero difference how many questions Clinton has asked average Americans. Like, none. If those people were running for president, then I would be super-interested to know how they responded to some (or maybe all) of Clinton’s 117 questions. But, they aren’t. She is. Citing the number of questions Clinton has asked of people to rebut the idea that she isn’t taking enough (or any) questions from reporters is sort of like saying you aced a job interview because you answered every question asked of you with another question. That wouldn’t make sense, would it?

3. At issue here is that Clinton is avoiding taking questions from reporters. And nowhere in the Correct The Record memo does it have anything to dispute that fact. In total as a candidate, Clinton has answered 13 total questions from reporters. It’s been 39,000 minutes since she last answered a reporter’s question. And, while I think it is absolutely of value for Clinton to hear from regular folks about their concerns and hopes, it’s hard to argue from the list put together by Correct The Record that the questions those people have asked Clinton are the same as the one reporters would have if given the chance.

No, they’re better, you say! They’re about policy and not dumb reporters’ obsessions, you say!

To all of which, I respond: Do you not think it is of value to know how Hillary Clinton spent her time since leaving the State Department? And how the Clinton Foundation handled its business with various donors who would, undoubtedly, still be in the picture if she was elected president? Or what she thinks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the fight currently happening in Congress? Or Iran? Or the Middle East?

You get the idea. The role of the media in this process is to show voters who these people are, really, and to explain how these people would govern the country if elected. Like the media or not, that’s a very important role — and one that is essential to a functioning democracy.

So, no matter how many Iowans’ questions Hillary answers or how many questions she asks them, it doesn’t justify her current unwillingness to stand before reporters (or even a single reporter) and take their questions. Not even a little.

Clinton finally did take six questions today, but did provide much substance–and did not come off as very credible when talking about her email. She also answered a question regarding the story in The New York Times regarding the blurred line between her business interests, the Foundation, and her role as Secretary of State:

But an examination by The Times suggests that Mr. Blumenthal’s involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.

While advising Mrs. Clinton on Libya, Mr. Blumenthal, who had been barred from a State Department job by aides to President Obama, was also employed by her family’s philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation, to help with research, “message guidance” and the planning of commemorative events, according to foundation officials. During the same period, he also worked on and off as a paid consultant to Media Matters and American Bridge, organizations that helped lay the groundwork for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign…

Note the connection between Media Matters and the Clinton campaign. Media Matters has been responsible for much of the rapid fire, and incorrect, statements to defend Clinton since the story first broke. They also fabricated an attack on Peter Schweizer after came out about the release of Clinton Cash, such as making an unsubstantiated claim that he was not currently working on a similar book about Jeb Bush.

Chris Cillizia also debunked Clinton’s answer today about Blumenthal:

That answer reminds of a similar answer that Georgetown hoops great Allen Iverson used to give to reporters when they asked him why he refused to break ties with some of his longtime friends who, in the minds of some, brought an unsavory element to the NBA and clouded Iverson’s ability to focus on being the best basketball player he could be. Iverson’s response was, and I am paraphrasing here: These people were my friends before I got famous, and they’ll be my friends after I stop playing basketball. They are my true friends. I don’t care what any of you think about me or them.

Okay. I wasn’t sure — and still am not sure — that that was the right answer for Iverson. But I am absolutely certain it’s not the right answer for Clinton.

Iverson didn’t need anyone to elect him to anything to be successful in his chosen profession. So, the opinions of others could cost him money, potentially, but couldn’t fundamentally impact his playing career. That’s the exact opposite of the situation Clinton finds herself in. How she — and the people she surrounds herself with — are perceived matters in a very real way to her future career prospects.

So, jettisoning “old friends” who keep getting the Clintons into hairy territory perception-wise would seems to make all the sense in the world. And yet her response, when questioned about Blumenthal’s role as a sort of ad hoc adviser on Libya, is basically: Hey I’ve known this guy for a long time, so I’m not going to say anything bad about him…

When Bill got elected president in 1992, there were a number of people in the Clintons’ Arkansas orbit who national Democrats assumed would be jettisoned when the duo came to Washington. Except they weren’t. Perhaps the best known of this group is Webb Hubbell, a law partner of Hillary’s and close confidante of the Clintons who was named associate attorney general by Bill Clinton. Less than two years later, Hubbell pled guilty to overbilling clients at the law firm ands spent several years in prison. And now, according to this Daily Beast story from 2014, Webb Hubbell is back in the Clinton orbit, although, admittedly, far from its center.

Hubbell’s story may be the best known but it is far from the only example of the Clintons’ willingness to overlook mistakes in service of the all-important trait of loyalty. If you stand by the Clintons no matter what, they will almost never abandon you. (The converse is that if you are perceived as having betrayed them, they will never forgive you.) Again, admirable, perhaps, in a friend. But far less admirable — or wise — when running for office…

If you got tired of all these people, and all the scandals during the first Clinton administration, it will all be coming back, in what I fear will seem more like the third term of Richard Nixon.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Copyright 2015 The Moderate Voice
  • KP

    Iverson was the toughest little man ever to play in the NBA. Any comparison of him to Hillary is a low ball to Iverson. He told you what was on his mind.

    As far as I can tell, Hillary doesn’t have that ability.

    To be clear, the reason I call Hillary “Hillary” is to avoid connections to President Clinton as much as possible. He remains popular.

    Those who have read here for years know I usually refer to Barack Obama, our current president, as “the President” or our president.

    I respect him and the office.

    • In this case I don’t see anything wrong with referring to Hillary Clinton by her first name considering that so much of her campaign uses her first name, along with the point that there are two Clintons.

      I’ll defer to you with regards to the sports issues and the material in the quoted article. My concern is with Clinton, not Iverson.

  • JSpencer

    “It is hard to believe there is anything damaging to her in what will be released.”

    I think you’re right about that. Of course her enemies (not to be confused with people who are legitimately concerned about her) won’t care since they already have their minds set. Those very few voters who tip the scales will probably be more afraid of the GOP than they are of Clinton. As for the comparisons to Nixon, well… I sure hope not.

    • It looks like from the batch released the most potentially harmful thing is likely to be the role played by Sidney Blumenthal, which shows how the line was blurred between her job as Secretary of State, the Foundation, and her old friends. This is hardly anything we didn’t know before or anything to promote the Republican conspiracy theories on Benghazi. It is rather minor compared to the other revelations of the past month.

  • Greg

    My god, she just really has nothing of interest to say. I was watching that in depth news source last night, The Daily Show, and Stewart showed the clip where a reporter asked her whether any contributions to the foundation yielded action from the State Department when she held the cabinet post. The obvious answer was ‘no’. She literally couldn’t utter the word. And her eyes drifted to the upper corners of the room while she labored through a non-response. When your four-year-old child behaves that way when you ask him/her a question, you know he/she is lying. This is really becoming bizarre. Absent some paradigm shift in her campaign, Hillary is unelectable. I know this is my overreaction, but she appears to be so far into the Clinton manufactured and cultivated ‘truthiness’ parallel universe that she literally can no longer accept any question upon its merits and give a straight answer. At this point, I question whether she is manipulating the disingenuousness or if it is manipulating her. She appears to have lost control of her own persona.

    • “Absent some paradigm shift in her campaign, Hillary is unelectable.”

      She shouldn’t be electable but it is a sign of the sorry state of our politics that she could be elected. She obviously has the advantage in winning the Democratic nomination with so many Democrats ignoring her faults–both ethically on policy matters.

      She remains electable in the general election as the Republicans also have issues which could cause them to lose elections, plus the electoral college gives the Democrats an advantage (but not a lock). Still the Democrats would be safer going with a candidate without so much baggage.

      • Greg

        Ron, my heart tells me to agree with you that the Republicans can provide a candidate that will ratify Hillary by comparison, but my head tells me that her disingenuousness will create a prohibitive barrier to her success, unless the Republicans can somehow manage to nominate Jefferson Davis. Time will tell, but at this point I am really turned off by her efforts thus far.

    • Slamfu

      Exactly Greg, and that trait is what is going to cost her the election, hopefully the Primary.

  • yoopermoose

    I have no sympathy for the press. If I was Hillary I wouldn’t talk to them either. The press has shown over and over again they are only interested in whatever the current scandal is, getting a sound bite, and not interested in anything substantive. You only have to look at the quote by Rick Klein and Chris Cillizza in the above article to see the disdain they both feel toward us regular Americans. This is who we should get an unbiased view of the presidential contenders from? Politicians can get their message out through may other ways without having to go through the skewed biases of the mainstream media. Let the press boo hoo that Hillary won’t talk to them. Good for her.

    • There is a wide variation in the press. Much of the coverage is superficial, but there is also excellent coverage out there. Not only excellent, but essential to know about a candidate. The alternative is Clinton’s staged events, where we learn nothing.

      I don’t see any disdain for the regular Americans in the quotes above. I see disdain for one of the most dishonest politicians of this era, from either party, along with one of the worst opponents of transparency in government.

      • yoopermoose

        Maybe you don’t see the disdain because your POV is clear and has been clear for months. Any criticism of Hillary is welcome, any defense is not.

        As far as the media, there is this from Salon:

        The Washington Post’s Cillizza, for example, seems to think there is some established definition of “the role of the media” in covering presidential candidates. “The role of the media in this process,” Cillizza writes, ”is to show voters who these people are, really, and to explain how these people would govern the country if elected. Like the media or not, that’s a very important role — and one that is essential to a functioning democracy.” Cillizza’s colleague at the Washington Post, columnist Ruth Marcus, is also of the mind that Hillary Clinton needs to answer all the questions “because that’s part of the process.” Well, Hillary Clinton disagrees.

        I have never seen the media explain how these people would govern. That would be a nice change from what the media actually does. Then maybe I would take their lack of access to Hillary more seriously.

        • It has nothing with opinions of Clinton. Any politician who fails to answer questions from the press to this degree is unfit for office. The alternative is that a politician can tell whatever lies they want.

        • Besides exposing lies (as factcheckers have done with Clinton), media interviews also reveal when politicians are bullshitting their audiences when talking about policy.

          For example, Clinton gave her comments on immigration without taking questions from the press. We would know a lot more about her policy if she answered this question from Amy Chozick of The New York Times:

          “President Obama said his executive action on immigration went as far as the law will allow. You say you would go beyond what he did. How could you stretch the law further than the president of your own party and his Justice Department says it can go?”

          There are similar questions on other issues. She talked about doing more about drug abuse. I would like to know if this means she has changed her mind on her previous opposition to needle exchange programs, or her previous hardline views on the drug war.

          There are many more questions on her other positions which should be asked.

    • JSpencer

      I think you’re right about the disdain much of the press feels toward “regular Americans”, and it’s an interesting phenomenon – partly because so many regular Americans invite it by their inability to process the news critically – and partly because much of the press (excepting NPR and a few others) no longer take their Fourth Estate role seriously and therefore invite the disdain of many Americans.

    • Slamfu

      The press has shown over and over again they are only interested in
      whatever the current scandal is, getting a sound bite, and not
      interested in anything substantive.

      Amen to that.

  • The_Ohioan

    Any candidate worth their salt will take questions from the press and from town hall meetings. Pre-screened folks are not likely to ask inconvenient questions – not to mention that most regular people who are willing to ask questions are not knowledgeable enough to catch an evasive answer let alone do a follow up. Some of the press are, but not all of them.

    When the press asks a gotcha question any candidate worth their salt will have a stock answer and stick to it, no matter how often the gotcha is repeated, taking the consequences if that answer doesn’t satisfy the voters.

    It would be interesting to know the opinion of one of those people, who are retained to observe prospective jurors and give a report on the jurors truth-telling probability, about Mrs. Clinton’s demeanor. I’ve watched her enough to know to know what she looks like when she’s sure about what she’s saying. That expression was not always present when she answered the press questions. People know instinctively when someone is being evasive; it’s probably built into our DNA. We should use it on all politicians, though they have usually got the “I’m giving it to you straight” expression down pat.

  • Slamfu

    You know, I don’t fault Hillary Clinton for not talking to reporters. In fact, I’m wondering why 18 months before the election anyone is talking to them. It’s still ages away. I wish there was a rule stating you couldn’t even announce till January of the actual election year. Of course, that would deprive the media of the ratings bonanza that is a full extra 10 months of politicians throwing their feces at each other.

    Political theater is now available whenever we want it. It is the new Colosseum. Let us wallow in the spectacle and forget our troubles!

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