Endorsing Hillary Clinton for President at a Tuesday night rally in New Hampshire, former ABC News anchor/reporter Carole Simpson exclaimed, an NBC News blog reported, that “it's very freeing now that I'm not a journalist, that I'm able to speak my own mind.” But Simpson hardly hid her liberal political views during her years at ABC. “Long Live Hillary” read the headline over an online tribute from Simpson, then anchor of World News Tonight/Sunday, following Clinton's 2000 senatorial victory. At about the same time, she denounced Clarence Thomas as the “cruelest” Supreme Court justice “because he has consistently voted against human rights.” If Bush names more like him, she groused, “God help us.” The 1994 GOP congressional victories upset her: “I would like to think that the American people care about poor people, about sick people, about homeless people, and about poor children. I am shocked by the new mean-spiritedness.”
Most infamously, in a 1999 interview with President Bill Clinton at an Arkansas tomato processing plant, Simpson made the story all about herself and her glory: “I have to bask in this moment, for a moment, because I am here talking to the most powerful man on the planet, who was a poor boy from Arkansas....I am an African-American woman, grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you. How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?” Clinton: “It's a great country.”
The 2004 election results didn't please her any more than the Republican takeover of the House did ten years earlier. Simpson, then an ABC News senior correspondent, used a post-election forum at the National Press Club to rail about how Bush's states matched those of slave states:
When you tell me, 'Let the states decide,’ that scares me, okay? I’ve got a little map here of [the] pre-Civil War [United States], free versus slave states. I wish you could see it in color and large. But if you look at it, the red states are all down in the South, and you have the Nebraska Territories, the New Mexico Territories, and the Kansas Territories. But the Pacific Northwest and California were not slave states. The Northeast was not. It looks like the [Electoral College] map of 2004.
Mark Finkelstein's Wednesday NewsBusters posting highlighted the endorsement from Simpson, who now teaches journalism at Emerson College in Boston, as reported in the “First Read” blog on MSNBC.com written by the NBC News political team. The October 17 entry disclosed:
Here's a fascinating endorsement for Clinton. Former ABC News veteran Carole Simpson surprised the campaign last night when she showed up in New Hampshire to endorse her, according to NBC/NJ's Athena Jones. “For 40 years I’ve been a journalist, and I have covered our national leaders from Lyndon Johnson to President George W. Bush,” said Simpson, who was there with her class. “I endorse you for president of the United States. It’s very freeing now that I’m not a journalist, that I’m able to speak my own mind and free expression, but I just wanted you to know that I had a dream that before I died I would see a woman as president of the United States. I think you are the woman and I think this is the time.”
“That means a lot to me, Carole,” Clinton said. “Thank you very much.”
In an October 17 story in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Clinton's event at Salem High School the night before, Jim Devine relayed:
An unexpected announcement from former ABC News anchorwoman Carole Simpson came during a question-and-answer segment. Simpson, who left broadcasting to teach at Emerson College in Boston, stood up among the crowd and said she was no longer bound by the tenets of professional journalism to remain objective in telling all sides of a story. She was at the meeting with some of her students.
"It's very freeing now that I'm not a journalist and I can speak my mind," she said to the former first lady.
Simpson said she had dreamed that there would be woman president in her lifetime.
"I think you are the woman, and I think this is the time," she said.
From the MRC's archive, a few instances of Simpson's liberal pontificating:
January 10, 2001 MRC CyberAlert:
"Long Live Hillary" read the headline over a tribute to Hillary Clinton by ABC's Carole Simpson. She revealed how a dinner with Hillary turned into "a discussion among the reporters on whether she could do more good on the international stage speaking on behalf of women and children" or as a Senator. She gushed about Hillary's great work: "Just wait. You ain't seen nothin' yet."
December 22, 2000 MRC CyberAlert:
Clarence Thomas viciously denounced by ABC’s Carole Simpson for voting "against black voting rights." In her online column she endorsed the attacks on him as "the beneficiary of the biggest example of unmerited affirmative action" and the "cruelest" justice "because he has consistently voted against human rights." If Bush names more like him, she groused, "God help us."
November 9, 1999 MRC CyberAlert:
Forget about focusing on your news subject and not yourself. In an interview of President Clinton shown on Sunday's World News Tonight ABC anchor Carole Simpson put herself front and center, recalling how she "grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you." Incredibly, she then asked: "How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?" Even Clinton seemed surprised by her hubris.
Earlier, Simpson, who is black, had told Clinton: "You're the first black President. How does that make you feel?" And, she worried: "Aren't you going to suffer great post-partum depression after you leave office?"
Simpson's November 7 piece was pegged to Clinton's visits to poor areas. Simpson explained: "For millions of Americans the booming economy and bull market have been all but meaningless, because they've had no share in the prosperity. This past week President Clinton called attention to this gap in his second New Markets tour."
Simpson explained his proposal and allowed Clinton to promote it before showing excerpts from her interview aboard Air Force One. Simpson complained: "The poverty issue is, of course, tied somewhat to race. And blacks are still disproportionately poorer, Latinos are. Today we were in Newark, and we saw Latinos in Hartford. Your race commission was to come out with a report. Where is it?"
Clinton answered: "Of all the issues that I deal with, this is one that I have perhaps the strongest feelings about, and the longest years of experience with, and the, and the clearest ideas about the future of our country and the future of our world."
To that, Simpson responded: "You want to do it right. You joke about it, so I don't see why I can't joke about it: You're the first black President. How does that make you feel?"
Clinton began a long answer by saying "I think it's a compliment, and I take it as such."
Simpson's piece then moved to a new venue and the sucking up moved up a notch. "Later, in an Arkansas tomato factory, I chatted with President Clinton about his future." She told him: "I've watched you the past few days and how the crowd responds to you, and how you respond to them." And: "You've got the big plane, you've got the big house, you've got the cars, the protection. Aren't you going to suffer great post-partum depression after you leave office?"
Clinton answered: "I don't know, I hope not. I'll hate to give up Air Force One. You know, air traffic has gotten a lot tougher since, in the last eight years. And I've really tried to help other airline passengers get a better deal, so I kind of dread that. And I'll miss the job. The work is what I'll miss. I love living in the White House. I love Camp David. I love working in the Oval Office." (What has he ever done to "help other airline passengers get a better deal?")
Now we get to the hard to believe part. But this is all accurate. Simpson then showed video of her standing in front of Clinton as she proclaimed: "I have to bask in this moment, for a moment, because I am here talking to the most powerful man on the planet, who was a poor boy from Arkansas..."
Clinton jumped in: "A place like this."
Simpson continued: "Place like this. I am an African-American woman, grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you. How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?"
Clinton: "It's a great country. You know, we should never get discouraged, we should never give up on America, we should never, it's okay to be mad at things that happen, it's okay to be frustrated. But, just look at it, I mean, both of us, yeah we worked hard to get here, but we had a lot of help along the way. And we had a country capable of continuing improvement. The founders were smart people, and we have been very lucky for over 200 years now, and I would hope the American people would always believe that."
June 4, 1996 MRC CyberAlert:
Here's a quote that we weren't able to squeeze into Notable Quotables last week but is still pretty good. It's from ABC reporter and World News Sunday anchor Carole Simpson when she appeared on CNN's Larry King Live on May 10: “I have been hoping that America and corporations were moving to more family-friendly policies. I think the Family Leave Act is a step in the right direction. But it is incredible to me that the family is not elevated to cabinet-level status in this country the way it is in many Western European countries. I go to France. Everything is built around making sure the family can survive.”
Some Notable Quotables:
“This was an issue about voting rights. Yet, Justice Thomas voted with the conservative majority. His vote could have changed history. But it was not to be. He is firmly entrenched on the Court’s right....In five major cases involving civil rights and liberties, he voted against minorities every time, including rulings against job discrimination and voting rights. He’s only 52 years old and could conceivably spend another 30 years on the Supreme Court. If, during his tenure, President-elect Bush ends up making a couple of more appointments like Justice Thomas to the Supreme Court, I have heard many women and minorities say, ‘God help us.’"
-- ABCNews.com online column by World News Tonight/Sunday anchor Carole Simpson, Dec. 17, 2000, after the Supreme Court’s Bush vs. Gore ruling.
ABC News Washington reporter and anchor Carole Simpson: "I fear that the Contract with America, if enacted, may be detrimental to the family, especially those of single women and their children....But my fear is that Mr. Gingrich, given his history, may increase what I see as a new mean-spiritedness in this country....I would like to think that the American people care about poor people, about sick people, about homeless people, and about poor children. I am shocked by the new mean-spiritedness."
Question: "I don't think it's your personal liberal bias that's well-known, but the liberal bias of your network is obvious."
Carole Simpson: "I challenge you to give me examples of that. I disagree wholeheartedly. I think it's again, an example of the mean-spiritedness that is these days also directed at the media."
Question: "Do you think the Democrats have been exhibiting mean-spiritedness towards the Republican efforts at reform? Their intentional misrepresentation of those efforts are consistently presented at face value in the mainstream press...[and] an effort at character assassination of the new congressional leaders."
Simpson: "I disagree totally. I think the coverage of the new Republican leadership has been extremely positive."
-- Carole Simpson in an America Online auditorium session, January 5, 1995.
"I won't make any pretense that the American Agenda is totally neutral. We do take a position. And I think the public wants us now to take a position. If you give both sides and `Well, on the one hand this and on the other that' -- I think people kind of really want you to help direct their thinking on some issues."
-- ABC News reporter Carole Simpson on CNBC's Equal Time, August 9, 1994.
Reporter Carole Simpson: "Here we are at 1991 worrying about war, worrying about a recession, four-fifths of the American people think we're on the wrong track. I think this recession comes at the worst time..."
Sam Donaldson: "Well, now does everyone agree with me this is a result of Reaganomics?"
Simpson: "I do."
-- Exchange on This Week with David Brinkley, December 30, 1990.