CNN's Camerota Actually Raises 'Enabler' Charge in Hillary Interview

On Wednesday's New Day, CNN's Alisyn Camerota surprisingly broached the issue of Bill Clinton's sordid sexual past during her interview of Hillary Clinton — something that the Big Three morning newscasts skirted doing in their Wednesday interviews of the Democratic presidential candidate. Camerota noted how Donald Trump raised the "allegations from your husband's past," and pointed out that "he's going further, actually, than that. He's making it about you. He's saying that you are an enabler of bad behavior and of sexual assault." She asked, "What's your response to Donald Trump?" [video below]

When Mrs. Clinton replied, "I have no response," the anchor pressed the former secretary of state on the issue: "But when someone accuses you of being an enabler of sexual assault, don't you need to respond to it...particularly since this is an issue that you wanted to talk about on the campaign trail — campus sexual assault — you say that survivors need to be believed, and they need to be heard. So when he's accusing you of doing something that is the antithesis of what you want to talk about, don't you need to address it?"

Camerota raised the subject during part three of a largely-softball interview (each part aired before the bottom of each hour of the newscast). The former New York senator replied to the "enabler" question with her "I have no response" line, and continued by going on the offensive against Trump: "I have deep disagreements with what he's proposing. His tax plans would cut trillions of dollars of taxes from the wealthy and corporations. He doesn't believe in equal pay. He thinks that American workers are already making too much. So, I'm going to draw the contrast with him that I think the American people are interested in seeing."

When the CNN journalist followed up by bringing up how Mrs. Clinton has campaigned on the campus sexual assault issue, the Democratic politician merely gave a one-sentence answer: "I'm going to let the voters decide what's relevant and what's not relevant in their decision as to who they're going to support."

Camerota ended the third part of the interview by tossing softballs about how her daughter Chelsea "believes that you becoming a grandmother is a driving force behind your campaign. How so?" She also wondered, "When you think about your grandchild's future, are you worried or hopeful?" [video below]

The transcript of Alisyn Camerota's questions to Hillary Clinton from her interview of the Democratic presidential candidate on the January 13, 2016 edition of CNN's New Day — including some of Mrs. Clinton's answer's for context:

ALISYN CAMEROTA (from pre-recorded interview): Thanks so much for sitting down with us here in Iowa.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: So, we're in Ames, Iowa....where the temperature, as we speak, is one degree....And I know that you have been going to countless campaign events here. And I'm wondering, when you get up in the morning in Iowa, if there are ever times that you question your life choices.

CAMEROTA: So let's talk about the tightening race between you and Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders was speaking to reporters on Monday night here in Iowa; and he said that your campaign is in — quote, 'serious trouble.' Is that how you feel?

CAMEROTA: There is a new Quinnipiac poll in which Bernie Sanders is now beating you in Iowa. It is 49 percent to 44 percent. It's the first time that this has happened — that he's been beating you in Iowa — since September. We're 20 days out. Does he have more momentum than you?

CLINTON: Well, the funny thing, Alisyn, is after that poll came out, about an hour later, there was a PPP poll where I was leading him by the same margin — about six points up. I don't pay any attention to this. I don't feel that it's a good reflection about who will actually come out on caucus night. I can only tell you that the energy; the enthusiasm; the excitement of my volunteers, my organizers, the voters who come who sign up on 'commit to caucus' cards, is just building. That's my experience.

So, I'll let people poll and try to figure out who's going to actually show up. I'm looking at people who are showing up, making up their minds, and trying to — you know, convince them to come out and caucus for me.

CAMEROTA: Why don't you feel that the polls are a good reflection of what's going to happen in the caucus?

CLINTON: Because they're so unpredictable — and it's gotten increasingly difficult to poll; and I think you would have to add a degree of difficulty to polling for a caucus. So, that's been my experience. I've watched this a long time. I've had a prior election where I campaigned in Iowa. So, I just put that aside. I'll let pundits and others worry about who's up and who's down. I just get up every day, like we were saying — going out there, making my case, drawing the contrast — because I have the highest regard for my two opponents — but there are real differences, and we need a spirited debate — because after the first of the year, a lot more people start paying attention. And now, I know it's — you know, the make or break time. People make up their minds.

CAMEROTA: Bernie Sanders is also winning in New Hampshire — not surprising. He's from the neighboring state. Have you considered what would happen if he wins in Iowa and New Hampshire — what your plan is?

CAMEROTA: Vice President Joe Biden offered his thoughts to CNN on why he thinks Bernie Sanders is resonating. He said that he thinks it's about Senator Sanders's positions on income inequality. And the Vice President said — quote, 'It's relatively new for Hillary to talk about that. That's been Bernie's. No one questions Bernie's authenticity on those issues.' What's your reaction?

CAMEROTA: And since you have been devoting much of your career to talking about this, why do you think the Vice President would say it's more in Bernie's wheelhouse; and it's about his authenticity?

CLINTON: Oh, I don't know. But I — you know, I have a lot of regard for the Vice President, and I think he clarified what he said; and said he was talking about me when I was secretary of state. Well, when I was secretary of state, I couldn't talk about domestic policy. There's an unwritten rule. You do not meddle in domestic policy when you are secretary of state; or, for that matter, secretary of defense.

So yes, for four years, despite a long career — both in and out of public service, where I have been relentless in talking about these issues — there were four years when I did not. I talked about how we're going to get Iran to the negotiating table, and try to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon; how we're going to — you know, deal with a rising China; what we're going to do about women's rights — something that goes to the heart of inequality. So, I had a different agenda because I had a different job.

CAMEROTA: So, you didn't take Biden's comments as a slight?

CLINTON: No — not at all.

CAMEROTA: Okay. You are introducing your tax plan. One of the headlines is that you would impose a four-percent surcharge on incomes over $5 million. And I believe that that would raise about $150 billion over ten years. Does that go far enough in addressing income inequality?

CAMEROTA: Another point of conflict between you and Senator Sanders is on gun policy....We just watched this very emotional event that you were involved in, where this mom who lost two children to gun violence got up and spoke. And it was really heartbreaking to hear her. It sounds like she lost her children to criminals. So how would you stop that?

CAMEROTA: I want to talk about an issue that Donald Trump wants to make an issue in this campaign — and that is — are allegations from your husband's past. He's going further, actually, than that. He's making it about you. He's saying that you are an enabler of bad behavior and of sexual assault. What's your response to Donald Trump?

CLINTON: I have no response. I'm going to let him say whatever he wants to say. He can run his campaign however he wishes. I'm going to keep talking about what the next president will have to do — starting January 20, 2017. I have deep disagreements with what he's proposing. His tax plans would cut trillions of dollars of taxes from the wealthy and corporations. He doesn't believe in equal pay. He thinks that American workers are already making too much. So, I'm going to draw the contrast with him that I think the American people are interested in seeing.

CAMEROTA: But when someone accuses you of being an enabler of sexual assault, don't you need to respond to it? I mean, particularly since this is an issue that you wanted to talk about on the campaign trail — campus sexual assault — you say that — that survivors need to be believed, and they need to be heard. So when he's accusing you of doing something that is the antithesis of what you want to talk about, don't you need to address it?

CLINTON: I'm going to let the voters decide what's relevant and what's not relevant in their decision as to who they're going to support.

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump again — he was on The Tonight Show. He was asked about the possibility of you two running against each other — if that's how this all plays out in November. He said that would be — quote, 'an amazing thing.'

CAMEROTA: Let's say you get the nomination. Let's say you win the presidency

CLINTON: Yes, let's say that! (laughs)

CAMEROTA: Let's say it. And on day one, you walk into the Oval Office. What's the first phone call you make?

CAMEROTA: Before I let you go, I definitely want to ask you about your granddaughter. I know that you talk about her on the campaign trail. I believe Chelsea is making her first appearance on the campaign trail....And she said that she believes that you becoming a grandmother is a driving force behind your campaign. How so?

CAMEROTA: And when you think about your grandchild's future, are you worried or hopeful?

CLINTON: I'm always hopeful, Alisyn. I'm always hopeful. I think this is the greatest country. When I listen to the negative comments made about our country on the campaign stage, predominantly by the Republicans — I mean, look at what we've come back from. It was a Republican administration under which we had the great recession. That is just a fact. President Obama inherited an economy that was losing 800,000 jobs a month. I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for digging us out and getting us standing again. So, I know that choices really matter in politics, but I am absolutely committed to the belief, the conviction that I have that our country is resilient; we're strong; we're smart. Given the right leadership, we can do anything. That's why I actually am quite optimistic and confident about the future.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center