The ‘Fox News viewers are racist’ meme hasn’t died yet on MSNBC. Analyzing Hillary Clinton’s interview on June 17 with Fox News, Hardball guest Michelle Bernard insisted that Hillary Clinton was “reaching out to those voters that Barack Obama said were the people who get scared of people who are different than them, and they cling to religion, or they cling to guns or have anti-immigrant sentiment.”
She continued: “And I think she’s got to reach out to that demographic. That's what we saw her doing on Fox tonight.” Host Chris Matthews, despite recently coming to the defense of the right, jumped right in to second Bernard’s analysis: “I believe people have been opposing President Obama, many of them because of his background, because of his race, absolutely.” [MP3 audio here; video below]
Earlier in the discussion, the Hardball panel debated whether Hillary was attempting to appeal to the so-called ‘Fox News viewer’ or if she was trying to stay consistent with the President’s positions. Bernard was insistent that Hillary needed to reach out to the right and portray herself as more to the conservative on foreign policy than President Obama.
She suggested that, with regard to Benghazi, Hillary was intending to sway a “Fox viewer or somebody who is very tough on national security and very hawkish and would like to see someone who says basically, I would have told them to go in and blow those people up and make sure that our people came up unharmed.” Matthews disagreed, remarking, “I think she's been adapting to her role as a deputy to the President.”
The relevant portion of the transcript is below:
June 17, 2014
7:40 p.m. Eastern
MICHELLE BERNARD, CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy: I thought the interview was extraordinary. Not so much the questions. In looking at sort of the tone and tenor of the interview of the questions we saw coming from Brett Baier. The questions were boring. What I found to be so intriguing about her answers is how I think you can once again if we believe she's running for President and I absolutely think she is, I think it was intriguing to look at how she's reaching out to the Fox demographic. Because, you know, at CNN she distanced herself from the President on how she would deal with Syria and how she would deal with Afghanistan. On the question of Benghazi– by her talking about the fact that she was at home, and the President was the person who was in the White House with Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey and Tom Donilon, you're left with the question if she had been in the White House in the oval office with those three men at that time, had been given an opportunity to make the, quote/unquote, hard choice, would Benghazi have turned out differently. And I thought I don't know if it was done purposefully or not, but I think it gave her an excellent opportunity to show to a Fox audience she's to the right of President Obama on issues of national security.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host: Wait a minute. What would have been a tougher position that she could have taken conceptually that night?
BERNARD: Honestly, Chris, I don't know. I don't know the information that was coming into them during the interview.
MATTHEWS: No, but just generally what would she have done? What would a tough person have done? What would a Fox viewer want done that night?
BERNARD: A Fox viewer would want to know they are doing everything that they could to deal with what was happening in Benghazi. A Fox viewer or somebody who is very tough on national security and very hawkish would like to see someone who says basically, I would have told them to go in and blow those people up and make sure that our people came up unharmed. I think that’s what a Fox viewer might be looking at.
MATTHEWS: I don't know how you can do both. Jeanne, I wanna tell you something, I heard Hillary Clinton and I have heard this before. She was at the state department almost all night. She eventually went home. I think this argument–I don't buy it, what you just said, Michelle. I don't think she was trying to distance herself. Because all through these interviews this evening Jeanne I think she's been adapting to her role as a deputy to the President no trying to out–except in one case where she said she would have gone and supported moderate forces in Syria two years ago.
BERNARD: But that is a difference.
JEANNE CUMMINGS: That’s right. That is an area where she has put some space between the President and herself. I found it interesting tonight on Fox where she said she's not at all in favor of negotiations and communications with Iran in dealing with what's going on in Iraq. And, you know, we don't know where the administration is going to end up on that particular question. Secretary Kerry has opened some informal discussions with Iran. And I was a little bit surprised that Hillary Clinton drew a pretty clear line in the sand for herself on that. We'll see how events play out for the Obama administration. This could turn out be another area where they have a differing view.
MATTHEWS: In the–she's definitely to the right. She never pushed Netanyahu on the issue of settlements like this administration has, which Kerry has. Back to you, Michelle, your thought.
BERNARD: My thought was I think I respectfully disagree with both you and Jeanne in this area. If you look at two interviews and the interviews she's given on issues of national security and certain issues where we look at voting demographics, she is distancing herself from President Obama. Did you notice tonight in the CNN interview when she was asked, for example, are there people who are racist in terms of how they deal with President Obama? She refused to ever come out and say there were any instances of racism. However in the Fox interview she said to Greta Van Susteren that sexism is still a problem today, that indicates to me that she’s reaching out to women voters and not necessarily African-American voters at least at this point in time, but that's just my opinion.
MATTHEWS: But Michelle, after she refused to say people were operating against the President because of his African-American background, she did say that prejudice against people of color, prejudice against people who are women, prejudice against people who are gay, she went through the whole lineage of our country's history and said of course they are evident in our society. She just didn’t wanna tie together, which I think is smart politically. Don't take people and tie their motives to something particular when you can’t read their minds. And I think she's being careful.
BERNARD: She’s being very careful, I agree to you. I think that some of the interviews we saw tonight, Hillary Clinton was reaching out to the voters that in 2007 or 2008 Barack Obama said were the people who get scared of people who are are different than them, and they cling to religion, or they cling to guns or have anti-immigrant sentiment. And I think she’s got to reach out to that demographic. That's what we saw her doing on Fox tonight.
MATTHEW: As I’ve said before Michelle, I believe people have been opposing President Obama, many of them because of his background, because his race, absolutely. Anyway, thank you, Michelle Bernard. But I'm not running. Thank you Michelle Bernard, thank you Jeanne Cummings.