NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Fawns Over ‘Softer, More Reflective’ Hillary in CNN’s Dem Town Hall

Before footnoting Hillary Clinton’s awkward answer on her speaking fees to Wall Street firms from Wednesday’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall, NBC News Clinton correspondent Andrea Mitchell gushed on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News how Clinton “show[ed] her softer, more reflective side in New Hampshire” with “a rare glimpse last night.” 

The newscast led with the Democratic campaign as the fifth debate was only hours away on MSNBC and anchor Lester Holt noted the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll that has socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (Vt.) with a 20-point lead. 

Holt proclaimed before going to Mitchell at the debate site that Clinton had made “change of tone, and a direct challenge to Sanders on who claims the mantle of most progressive.”

Mitchell took to her near daily singing the praises of the Clinton campaign by explaining that despite Clinton trailing Sanders badly among younger women, the former secretary of state “is noticeably toning down those sharp edges she showed in Iowa.”

Rehashing what took place at CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall, Mitchell gushed that Clinton succeeded in “showing her softer, more reflective side in New Hampshire; a rare glimpse last night.”

Mitchell added following a Clinton soundbite of her lamenting that she’s been “in public dealing with some very difficult issues and personal issues” for decades, the MSNBC host expressed fascination with Clinton “[r]evaling she lies on a Jesuit parable” from Henri Nouwen.

“It was one of her strongest moments of this campaign. She also touted her progressive credentials,” Mitchell hyped. 

As this writer explained in this space on Wednesday and NewsBusters Executive Editor Tim Graham did on Twitter, Clinton has been citing Nouwen for decades going back to the Lewinsky days when she also railed against the “vast right-wing conspiracy” against her family that also included a career spanning decades of personally demeaning anyone who strays against them.

In contrast to NBC’s positive vibes toward Clinton, ABC’s World News Tonight and Clinton correspondent/Saturday anchor Cecilia Vega rehashed the town hall but from a more even-keeled perspective and focused on moments where attendees and moderator Anderson Cooper put Clinton and Sanders on the defensive.

The relevant portions of the transcript from February 4's NBC Nightly News can be found below.

NBC Nightly News
February 4, 2016
7:01 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: NBC News Decision 2016; Fight Night]

LESTER HOLT: It's debate night. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in their first one-on-one debate, just five days before the New Hampshire primary. It comes as a brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows Clinton with miles of ground still to make up. 58 percent of likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire are backing Sanders, the senator from next-door Vermont. Clinton with 38 percent. That's virtually unchanged from a week ago. So tonight, from Clinton, a change of tone, and a direct challenge to Sanders on who claims the mantle of most Progressive. Let's get the view from both camps starting with NBC's Andrea Mitchell. Andrea? 

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Lester. Well, not only is it going into the debate, does the new poll show Bernie Sanders is ahead of Hillary Clinton here in New Hampshire, but he has a slight lead among women. and a giant lead with young people. As Hillary Clinton prepares for tonight's showdown, her top target, reaching young voters and women. Our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows Clinton losing the youth vote to Sanders by a whopping 22 percent. Among women, she trails by four and young women, 29, so Clinton is noticeably toning down those sharp edges she showed in Iowa. 

HILLARY CLINTON: I will stand up and fight for you every single day of this campaign! 

MITCHELL: Showing her softer, more reflective side in New Hampshire. A rare glimpse last night. 

CLINTON: [at CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall, 02/03/16]: I've had to be in public dealing with some very difficult issues and personal issues. 

MITCHELL: Revealing she relies on a Jesuit parable — 

CLINTON: [at CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall, 02/03/16]: Be grateful for your limitations. 

MITCHELL: It was one of her strongest moments of this campaign. She also touted her progressive credentials. 

CLINTON [at CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall, 02/03/16]: I am a progressive who gets results, and I will be a progressive president who gets results. 

MITCHELL: But it's another comment that could stick with her. Struggling to answer why she took $675,000 in speaking fees from Wall Street banks. 

CLINTON: [at CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall, 02/03/16]: Well, I don't know. That's what they offered. 

MITCHELL: Her ties to Wall Street, attacked from Bernie Sanders, and sure to come up tonight. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Durham, New Hampshire. 

KASIE HUNT: I'm Kasie Hunt with the Sanders campaign, rallying his troops before his one-on-one debate with Hillary Clinton. 

INDEPENDEN SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (Vt.): I look around this beautiful room, and I sense that people here want to make a political revolution, am I right about that? 

HUNT: Tonight expect Bernie Sanders to once again go after Clinton with the question, who's the most progressive? [TO SANDERS] Do you think Hillary Clinton is a progressive? 

SANDERS: Some days, yes. 

HUNT: His campaign taking to Twitter, highlighting her support for the Wall Street bailout, the PATRIOT Act and the Iraq War. 

SANDERS [at CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall, 02/03/16]: The progressive community was pretty united in saying, don't listen to Bush. 

HUNT: Key for Sanders tonight, reaching older voters. Our new poll showing the majority of New Hampshire older voters over 60 back Hillary Clinton. He already had an advantage among an important New Hampshire voting block: Independent, leading Clinton by 43 points and Sanders' message is already hitting home for young people. Like these students at the University of New Hampshire.

SANDERS SUPPORTERS [singing]: I've got a friend and his name is Bernie. He’s hurting the people who are trying to hurt me.

HUNT: Managing expectations is another concern for Sanders. He's so far ahead right now, if Hillary Clinton does manage to close that gap, it could still be a problem for him, even if he comes in first.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center