Hillary Clinton on CBS Evening News: ‘I Don't Believe I Ever Have’ Lied to the American People

Roughly a week after he sat down with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for a two-part interview on February 10, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley did the same in Las Vegas on Thursday with Hillary Clinton and while he failed to press her on the issue of honesty and trustworthiness, Clinton admitted to him that “I don’t believe I ever have” lied to the American people. 

In part two, Pelley cozied up to Clinton on the influence her late mother has had on her life and specifically “[w]hich words are her words?”

Pelley began part one with a simple question by telling her what Sanders and Donald Trump “have tapped into” is really “a powerful thing” and if she understood that. When she told him that she’s recognized that “people are angry,” he followed up by lamenting that while her “resume checks almost every box in terms of experience...that doesn't seem to be what the American people want in this election.”

After a brief back and forth on her tax policy (which was a topic he also broached with Sanders), Pelley remarked that then-candidate Jimmy Carter “famously said” to voters in 1976 that “I will not lie to you.”

The scandal-ridden secretary of state responded with this meandering question: “Mmhmm. Well, I will tell you, I have tried in every way I know how, literally from my years as a young lawyer, all the way through my time as secretary of state to level with the American people.”

Pelley neglected to highlight any of the scandals that Clinton and her husband have been involved in but instead simply wondering: “You talk about leveling with the American people. Have you always told the truth?”

Clinton rehashed her previous point that “I have always tried to, always, always” while Pelley again trotted out the Carter quote to the peeved candidate:

PELLEY: Some people are going to call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself “always tried to.” Jimmy Carter said, “I will never lie to you.”

CLINTON: You know, you're asking me to say, “have I ever?” I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever will. I am going to do the best I can to level with the American people. 

Part two revolved around her personal life and specifically that of her late mother Dorothy Howell Rodham (while the soft part with Sanders involved walking the Brooklyn streets he grew up on). Pelley inquired with Clinton about “[h]ow much of what we're hearing is your mother” and quickly also wondered if the teary-eyed Clinton could tell him “[w]hich words are her words?” 

With the remaining time, Pelley had Clinton enlighten him with “a moment, if you would, with your mother, as a little girl, that was formative for you” and so Clinton told a story about being bullied as a child and after her mother told her to stand up for herself, she went back and shoved one of the bullies to the ground.

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on February 18 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
February 18, 2016
6:36 p.m. Eastern

SCOTT PELLEY: For Clinton, these are high stakes in Nevada after losing New Hampshire in a landslide, and essentially tying in Iowa. She's decided to stay right here through the caucus. We spoke to her in her Las Vegas campaign office today. [TO CLINTON] What do you think Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have tapped into? It's a powerful thing. 

HILLARY CLINTON: Look, I do think, Scott, people are angry. People like, you know, their government's not working for them. The economy's not working. The political system is not working, so I think people are angry, but they're also hungry for solutions, but I also see in the eyes of the people I'm meeting with, okay, tell me something I can believe. Don't over-promise. Tell me what I can believe you will do for me and my family and that's what I've tried to do. 

PELLEY: Your resume checks almost every box in terms of experience, but that doesn't seem to be what the American people want in this election. 

CLINTON: You know, I think at the end of the day, voters understand they are selecting someone to be both president and commander in chief, and I'm proud of the experience that I have that will enable me on day one to do all aspects of the job. I think Democrats are also beginning to really focus on who can actually beat the Republicans. I know how to go after what Republicans stand for and to defeat them because I believe with all my heart, everyone of the ones running on the Republican side would be really bad for America. 

PELLEY: What's your tax plan? Who gets a tax increase? Who gets a tax cut? 

CLINTON: First, I am not raising taxes on the middle class, period. I'm going after incomes $5 million or more that I think have too many opportunities to game the system and escape paying the taxes that they should. I'm going after corporations that are gaming the system. I want to have a sensible corporate tax policy. 

PELLEY: Senator Sanders said that he would raise taxes on any family that made $250,000 and above. Is that your level, $250,000? 

CLINTON: I said I will not raise taxes on anybody 250 or below, but here's the problem with Senator Sander's plan — his numbers don't add up. There is no way for him to fulfill the promises he is making without raising taxes on the middle class.

PELLEY: You know in '76, Jimmy Carter famously said, “I will not lie to you.”

CLINTON: Mmhmm. Well, I will tell you, I have tried in every way I know how, literally from my years as a young lawyer, all the way through my time as secretary of state to level with the American people. 

PELLEY: You talk about leveling with the American people. Have you always told the truth?

CLINTON: I have always tried to, always, always. 

PELLEY: Some people are going to call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself “always tried to.” Jimmy Carter said, “I will never lie to you.”

CLINTON: You know, you're asking me to say, “have I ever?” I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever will. I am going to do the best I can to level with the American people. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Later; Lessons Learned]

PELLEY: We'll be back a little bit later in the broadcast with more of the interview with Hillary Clinton, including the advice she got from her mother.

(....)

6:50 p.m. Eastern

PELLEY: Back now in Las Vegas with more of our interview with Hillary Clinton. Last week, we went home to Brooklyn with Clinton's opponent, Bernie Sanders, to talk about what formed his character. Well, today, we asked Secretary Clinton about the remarkable life of her mother, Dorothy Rodham, who ran away from an abusive home at the age of 14 and made her own way through the Great Depression. Mrs. Rodham died in 2011 at the age of 92. [TO CLINTON] How much of what we're hearing is your mother? 

CLINTON: Well —

PELLEY: Which words are her words? 

CLINTON: Well, a lot of it is. You know, I wish she were still here. She was in '08. She gave me so much support and she was also a great, you know, mirror. 

PELLEY: Tell me about a moment, if you would, with your mother, as a little girl, that was formative for you. 

CLINTON: You know, I was pretty shy. I was a kind of reserved little girl. 

PELLEY: Really?

CLINTON: Yes. I would go outside to play, and, literally, I would get knocked down and pushed around by all the little kids and so the kids knocked me down, pushed me around. I ran back in crying and my mother met me at the door, and she said: “There is no room for cowards in this house. You go right back out there and stand up for yourself.” So I came back out, and I said, — “I — I — I'm not going to run inside the house. I'm here. I want to play.” And literally, they formed a circle, and this one girl who had been so mean to me came over and she push me and then I just pushed her right back, and she was so surprised and they all just looked at me, and they said, okay and so, I played that day and every day after that, but if my mother had not met me and had not given me that tough love that I think every kid needs at some point in his or her life, my life might have been very different. 

PELLEY: No room for cowards. 

CLINTON: There’s no room for cowards in this house.

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