Cokie Roberts Eagerly Defends Hillary’s Press Blackout

During a panel discussion Sunday’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NPR's Cokie Roberts rushed to defend Hillary Clinton for continuing to not answer questions from the press in the month since she announced her presidential campaign. 

After George Stephanopoulos played a montage of several Republicans scolding Mrs. Clinton over her inability to take questions, Roberts maintained that “I don't think anybody votes on whether a candidate answers questions or not.”

Roberts continued to dismiss the need for Hillary to talk to the press and suggested that “at some point, going to have to engage, absolutely. She's -- she can't just keep doing this. But I don't think it's going to -- she's going to do it exactly how she wants to do it.” 

While Roberts was quick to protect Clinton from any criticism, the rest of the This Week panel harshly scolded the Democrat with Jonathan Karl, ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent, noting that “she’s answered nine questions on your most generous count.” 

Matthew Dowd went one step further and suggested that Mrs. Clinton “is being too cute by half. This is this whole idea of whatever the strategy is, they're going to protect, I'm going to protect her. She's not going to be able to make mistakes and all that. I think it's being way too cute by half.”     

Roberts’ eagerness to excuse Clinton’s media blackout sounded almost identical to comments made by Republican strategist Steve Schmidt during an appearance he made on NPR’s Morning Edition on May 13. 

The former strategist for the McCain-Palin campaign argued that “[t]he notion that real voters worried about real issues cares one whit about how often a presidential candidate talks to their traveling press corps or answers questions from them is just ludicrous.”

Unlike Schmidt, who received no pushback from the liberal NPR host Tamra Keith, when Cokie Roberts offered up a similar defense of Mrs. Clinton she was met with unanimous skepticism from the entire This Week panel. 

See relevant transcript below. 

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos 

May 17, 2015

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: All of the Republican candidates in Iowa yesterday, raising the issue that Hillary Clinton is not answering any questions. Let's take a look. 

JEB BUSH: Hillary Clinton has been a presidential candidate now for a month now maybe and she’s had 13 questions asked by the press. 

RAND PAUL: Someone needs to ask Hillary Clinton if she ever takes any questions. 

CARLY FIORINA: She's going to have to answer some questions. 

LINDSEY GRAHAM: How can you run for president of the United States and never be asked a question?

STEPHANOPOULOS: They’re smoking her out. 

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, but I don't think anybody votes on whether a candidate answers questions or not. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Well, she's, at some point, going to have to engage, absolutely. She's -- she can't just keep doing this. But I don't think it's going to -- she's going to do it exactly how she wants to do it. 

JONATHAN KARL: And Jeb Bush was overly generous. She's answered nine questions on your most generous count. But she is going to need to get out there and do it. So what her folks say is that she's going to have a big campaign event, a big rally, early June. And after that, we'll see her taking some questions.

MATTHEW DOWD: I think Hillary's, in the end, this is being too cute by half. This is this whole idea of whatever the strategy is, they're going to protect, I'm going to protect her. She's not going to be able to make mistakes and all that. I think it's being way too cute by half. Ultimately she has a similar problem that Jeb has, right, so that the sins of the brother, he has to deal with the sins of the brother, she has to deal with the sins of the her employer and her employer is Barack Obama. And ultimately she has to deal with --

KARL: And her husband.

DOWD: And trade.

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