ABC, NBC Toss Softballs to Hillary, Skip E-Mails; CBS Asks if Scandal Makes Her ‘Unelectable’

While all three network morning shows conducted live interviews with Hillary Clinton on Monday ahead of the Iowa caucus, only CBS This Morning actually brought up her ongoing e-mail scandal. NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America both ignored the issue and lobbed softballs to the Democratic frontrunner instead.

Just comparing the first questions to Clinton in the three broadcast interviews showed the contrast. On GMA, co-host Robin Roberts gushed: “What do say we talk to Hillary Clinton, who’s good enough to join us this morning on a very important and busy day. Thank you so much for doing that. So, do you have the victory party all set for tonight?”

On NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered how Clinton was feeling: “You have been campaigning for about 300 days now, and today is the day that Iowans get to tell you how they're feeling. Did you wake up this morning excited, nervous, anxious, what?” She assured him: “I woke up very excited...”

Tell the Truth 2016

The CBS This Morning interview started off very differently, with co-host Charlie Rose immediately going to Bernie Sanders’ attacks on Clinton and the e-mail scandal: “It's getting intense out there as the final countdown takes place. The Sanders' campaign, over the weekend released a commercial that said – suggested you were in the pockets of Wall Street and said that, in fact, the e-mails could render you unelectable.”

After Clinton tried to dodge the question, fellow co-host Norah O’Donnell followed up: “And on the campaign trail, how do you answer that charge that Senator Sanders has made that you're in the pocket of Wall Street or beholden to their interests?”

During the exchange on GMA, in addition to the softballs from Roberts, correspondent Jon Karl provided a voter question for Clinton: “We're with Rob here from Denison, Iowa. Incredible thing about this, Rob, you are undecided between Hillary Clinton and John Kasich....What’s your question for Secretary Clinton?”

Rob teed up Clinton to tout her supposed bipartisanship: “My question for you is, as a liberal Republican – it seems to be a dying breed anymore – I want to know how you’re going to work bipartisanly with a very partisan Congress and a seemingly polarized nation?”

She was clearly pleased by the easy inquiry: “That’s a really great question, thanks for asking it, because I get asked that a lot.” Clinton laughably declared: “You know, I have a record of working with Republicans...”

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, host George Stephanopoulos did ask Clinton about the scandal, but invited her to claim it was just political. Her response was later touted on World News Tonight.

Here are transcripts of the question put to Clinton on the February 1 network morning shows:

Good Morning America
7:08 AM ET

ROBIN ROBERTS: What do say we talk to Hillary Clinton, who’s good enough to join us this morning on a very important and busy day. Thank you so much for doing that. So, do you have the victory party all set for tonight?

(...)

ROBERTS: There are so many similarities between what is going on right now and eight years ago. You, again, are – unexpected challenge that you are facing, what are the differences and similarities between what you are experiencing now and what happened eight years ago here in Iowa?         

(...)

ROBERTS: All 99 counties you have crisscrossed and we have seen you and we’ve seen your husband and we’ve seen your daughter as well.

(...)

ROBERTS: Well speaking of listening to Iowans, we have Jon Karl, he is out and about, and he is with some voters. And you know, a third of voters here are undecided, and let's hear what one voter has to ask you. Jon?

JON KARL: Hello, Robin. Hello, Secretary Clinton. We're with Rob here from Denison, Iowa. Incredible thing about this, Rob, you are undecided between Hillary Clinton and John Kasich.

ROB: Yes.

KARL: So you don’t even know which party. What’s your question for Secretary Clinton?  

ROB: Good morning, Secretary Clinton. My question for you is, as a liberal Republican – it seems to be a dying breed anymore – I want to know how you’re going to work bipartisanly with a very partisan Congress and a seemingly polarized nation?

KARL: Good question.

HILLARY CLINTON: That’s a really great question, thanks for asking it, because I get asked that a lot. You know, I have a record of working with Republicans...

(...)

ROBERTS: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much. We appreciate you joining us on this very busy and important day. Thank you.


Today
7:17 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let's get back to politics here. What does caucus day have in store for Hillary Clinton? The former secretary of state is with us now. Secretary Clinton, good morning to you....You have been campaigning for about 300 days now, and today is the day that Iowans get to tell you how they're feeling. Did you wake up this morning excited, nervous, anxious, what?

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: It is a tight race here. You know, some of your Democratic allies, Democratic leaders, have said point-blank that Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist, as he describes himself, cannot win a general election, that Republicans cannot wait to have an ad that has the hammer and the sickle. You have kind of tiptoed around it. But this is crunch time. If you believe it, why not come right out and say it? “Bernie Sanders, you may love him, Iowa voters, but he cannot win a general election”....Are you saying it?

(...)

LAUER: You talk about differences, Secretary Clinton. Seems like one of the differences, you're embracing President Obama's legacy. And I was at an event for Bernie Sanders last night, and he says, “I'm a supporter of President Obama, but I find the last eight years to have been disappointing.” Why is he wrong?

(...)

LAUER: Secretary Clinton, I know it's a busy day for you and your team, so we thank you for joining us this morning.


CBS This Morning
7:32 AM ET

NORAH O’DONNELL: There’s no predicting what Iowa Democrats will decide at tonight’s caucuses. A weekend poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by three points. That is within the survey's margin of error.

CHARLIE ROSE: The candidates made their final pitches on Sunday in Iowa. Clinton urged voters to come out to the caucus and, quote, “Stick with me.” Sanders predicted he will win tonight if there is a large voter turnout. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is with us now from Des Moines. Secretary Clinton, good morning.

(...)

ROSE: It's getting intense out there as the final countdown takes place. The Sanders' campaign, over the weekend released a commercial that said – suggested you were in the pockets of Wall Street and said that, in fact, the e-mails could render you unelectable.

(...)

O’DONNELL: And on the campaign trail, how do you answer that charge that Senator Sanders has made that you're in the pocket of Wall Street or beholden to their interests?

(...)

GAYLE KING: Bernie Sanders says that a large voter turnout today, Madam Secretary, works in his favor. What do you think works in your favor in terms of the turnout and the type of voter that needs to go today to caucus for you?

(...)

ROSE: You got a big endorsement from The New York Times saying you are one of the best qualified people to run for president in a long time. There is also the tough competition and success of Bernie Sanders. Do you believe that he, who suggests he needs to raise taxes for some of the programs he would like to see the country have, and because he is a Democratic socialist, can be elected?

(...)

ROSE: Let me go back to politics. Suppose you lose tonight and suppose the margin that he has in New Hampshire stays. Do you have a firewall after that in South Carolina and the states that follow that, the S.E.C. states that will give you a strong finish?

(...)

O’DONNELL: Alright, well, Secretary Clinton, thank you for your time. It's wonderful to watch democracy in action on both sides of the aisles and thank you for joining us this morning.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC