Must Read of the Day: Hillary Clinton, 60 Minutes, and the Muslim question

There’s all manner of primary season ugliness in the media and the blogosphere once again today, as JoAnne pointed out below. The Hillary Haters are out enforce — it’s a virtual feeding frenzy, as Kevin Drum notes:

the current attempts to tar Hillary as a racist have gone way, way over the top. They’re revolting. Back before the South Carolina primary, the Clinton campaign and its surrogates really did seem to be making a few too many racially charged comments for it to be just a coincidence (though even then some of the accusations were bogus), but after South Carolina it pretty much stopped. I can’t say whether it stopped for reasons of politics or reasons of principle, but it stopped.

But the accusations of racism haven’t. They’ve just gotten more ridiculous. 

If you want to get a clear picture of what the media (and by virtue of reporting on the media, the blogosphere) does to Hillary Clinton, the must read of the day is Eric Boehlert’s “Hillary Clinton, 60 Minutes, and the Muslim question.” You won’t find any Obama supporters quoting it.  

Eric Boehlert dissects the media frenzy in the wake of “Steve Kroft’s question on 60 Minutes about whether she thought Sen. Barack Obama was a Muslim.” He says:

After parsing Clinton’s answer and then conveniently setting aside key sections of it, journalists at NBC, MSNBC, The New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Time, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, among others, declared her response had been wholly deficient. Worse, Clinton’s answer simply confirmed that she was running a “slimy,” “nasty” contest. It was a “galling” comment; “the sleaziest moment of the campaign.”

The only thing sleazy about the episode was the type of journalism being used to concoct a Clinton slur.

When people suggest that the press employs a separate standard for covering Clinton, this is the kind of episode they’re talking about. There simply is no other candidate, from either party, who has had their comments, their fragments, dissected so dishonestly the way Clinton’s have been.

The fact is, if you look at Clinton’s exchange with Kroft in its entirety, which lasted less than one minute, I count eight separate times in which she either plainly denied the false claim that Obama was Muslim, labeled that suggestion to be a smear, or expressed sympathy for Obama having to deal with the Muslim innuendo. Eight times:

CLINTON: Of course not. I mean, that’s–you know, there is not basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn’t any reason to doubt that.

KROFT: And you said you’d take Senator Obama at his word that he’s not a Muslim.

CLINTON: Right. Right.

KROFT: You don’t believe that he’s a Muslim or implying? Right.

CLINTON: No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.

KROFT: It’s just scurrilous —

CLINTON: Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors. I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time. [Emphasis added]

[…] The 60 Minutes controversy — specifically the intense media spin it sparked — highlights a disturbing rise in a new form of campaign journalism, which might be best described as post-parsing. []

Other must reads of the day include:

See Memeorandum for all the buzz.

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9 Responses to Must Read of the Day: Hillary Clinton, 60 Minutes, and the Muslim question

  1. proseandpromise says:

    Good article today.

    I am an Obama supporter, but I agree with you. However, I don’t think the media spin is poltically based. It seems to me that they just run with whatever is juicy and controversial. So they work hard to put the Clinton candicacy in good light (she is a fighter, etc.) though many of us believe that if the tables were turned and Clinton had won 12 straight and had a substantial lead, he’d be asked to exit the race. They want Clinton in the spotlight because they love to use her and Bill to stir up controversy. They want to keep the punching bag hanging up and then knock all the ratings out of it they can.

    That said, I do wish she wouldn’t have said “As far as I know.” I don’t know why she didn’t just stop at “Of course not.” She has been forceful in answers at other times, and has cut reporters short of this kind of baiting, but here she didn’t and I think her quote hurt Obama, but now is hurting her. The Muslim rumors have not been helped by some of the actions of the Clinton campaign and the rumors are growing deep roots. I don’t know how many people I have heard recently not just speculate that Obama is a Muslim but say so matter-of-fact’ly. It has been a lot.

    So I wish the media would just be honest and not prop her up to knock her down, but I also wish she would be clear (and tell her surrogates to be clear) that racial and religious speculation are not helpful.

  2. proseandpromise

    You totally miss the point on what Boehlert is saying. I’ll leave it at that.

  3. proseandpromise says:

    I meant your article was good. I didn’t read all of the link, and just trusted your summary. What did I misunderstand? I mostly agree with you. The coverage of that quote isn’t fair, and I think it hurt both candidates. What did I miss?

  4. proseandpromise

    When it comes to political news the media spin is very much politically based and politically biased. Many/most of the main stream media outlets are owned by the right wing. Look up the Republican Noise Machine on Google.

    What Boehlert was saying is not that the media works hard to put Clinton in a “good light” as you claim, but just the opposite. She is victim to some of the worst spin:

    When people suggest that the press employs a separate standard for covering Clinton, this is the kind of episode they’re talking about. There simply is no other candidate, from either party, who has had their comments, their fragments, dissected so dishonestly the way Clinton’s have been.

    Another point Boehlert made is that Kroft continued on the line of questioning which is why no doubt that Clinton had to respond not once but 8 times.

    None of the muslim rumor came from the Clinton campaign, regardless of the claims of the Obama camp. If it is hurting Clinton now, it is because the Obama camp is pressing the issue, although it’s been proven to not come from the Clinton camp.

    The media FYI, does not “prop her up to knock her down” — they simply just repeatedly “knock her down” and have for years.

    On the flip side, Barack Obama gets a free pass from the media.

  5. Nathan says:

    proseandpromise,

    No, it’s uniquely biased against Clinton. If they were solely going after juicy scandals, they would’ve blasted Axelrod for spreading a blatant lie as well as Obama himself who directly accused the Clinton campaign–without proof–of leaking that non-controversial photo to Drudge when it was the Free Republic, who had circulated that photo, specifically discussing sending it to Drudge, just two days prior.
    Proof: http://andrys1.blogspot.com/2008/02/source-of-obama-photo-from-kenya.html
    Free Republic site: LINK
    Obama lying: LINK

    If Ferraro is blasted for her foolish opinions, with Clinton being held personally responsible, at least Obama should be responsible for himself and his staff. And here’s one last one: major Obama supporter, Dick Harpootlian (a white man), the SC Democratic chair accused Bill Clinton of being Lee Atwater and never was he fired during that crucial primary. Hell, it was barely brought up.
    Harpootlian: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/23/clinton.obama/index.html

    And that’s not even mentioning Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s, the national co-chair of his campaign, launching an inflammatory attack against Clinton; Michael Eric Dyson, a supporter who alleged NH Clinton voters were likely racist–without proof; or mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta, another supporter, who slammed Bill’s “fairy tale” remark as racist. There’s much more. The corporate media is engaging in blatant lying by omission.

  6. steve cohn says:

    It does seem the media is harder on Clinton than Obama..I wonder why that is? Do you think the media just doesn’t like her?
    …maybe it makes for better ratings as a large percentage of people out there don’t like Hillary for one reason or another.
    ..maybe the media is biased against her because she plays politics more and that brings out the worse in people.
    ..maybe when you say your opponent is just “empty speeches” at a time when people of all ages, races and demographics start to believe in thier government again it birngs out the worse in people.
    ..maybe when you hurt the democratic party by saying the Republican is more qualified, it brings out the worse in people.
    ..maybe when your husband (slightly) loses it with the media, it brings out the worse in people.
    ..maybe when you downplay the importance of voters in smaller states, it brings out the worse in people.
    ..maybe when you give the appearance of secretcy (tax returns), it brings out the worse in people.
    ..maybe when you say that your opponent would be a good choice for the VP slot but he’s not ready to be president when you are in second place, it brings the worse out in people.

    I think you get my point. I think the media are people just like us. They aren’t impartial. They are driven by ratings and play to what people will tune into. I think a perfect example is Mike Hucabee. Here’s a guy who had no chance of winning, is far right wing and yet non-right wing media outlets didn’t tear him apart becuase he’s a likeable guy. He reminded me of a bassett hound in a greyhound race. You just gotta like him, even root for him in some odd way.

    The media are people too and people are nicer to people they like or make them feel good. It may not be right, but it is what it is. I know it’s not popular to say it here, but poll after poll reflects (polls, not my opinion) Hillary is on the attack more than Barack. That creates anomosity and the media feeds into it. If the immpression is you are the agressor, you will naturally bring more heat upon yourself.

  7. steve cohn

    Some of us remember when journalists were more impartial and actually reported the news rather than twist and spin it. The get paid to report news and need to be held accountable when they report falsitiies or embellish the news. Spare us the sweetness routine – Eric Boehlert was on the money about the way the media treats Clinton and it was going on way before Barack Obama decided to run for president, FYI.

  8. proseandpromise says:

    I’m sorry if I was misunderstood. I know they are tough on Clinton. WHat I was saying is they favor her candidacy but not her (like Limbaugh does, for instance). They like her staying in so they can hit her. I really do believe that any other candidate would be getting pushed hard to drop out at this point, but Clinton stays and is encouraged to stay. I think she is encouraged to stay in so that they can hit her with stuff like this. Do you see what I mean? Like the way you hang a punching bag up if it falls down, only to start punching it some more. I don’t think their bias is political, I think it is economically driven. Clintons and Clinton scandals are proven ratings grabbers.

  9. proseandpromise

    I repeat: It is a widely known fact that the media is biased.

    “I think she is encouraged to stay in so that they can hit her with stuff like this. Do you see what I mean? “

    Sorry.. I don’t have blinders on and your statement makes no sense whatsoever.