In Friday's Post Politics Hour on washingtonpost.com, Anne Kornblut, the Post political reporter deployed to travel with Hillary, suggested that now that the Clinton-juggernaut image has been junked, it's funny that Hillary didn't make any verbal mistakes, that the mistakes could be attributed more to Bill and her staff. (Her ice-queen personality and wooden vocal delivery and persistently high negatives had nothing to do with it?)
McLean, Va.: Anne: We were told by any number of reporters and pundits (including -- ahem -- you, I believe) that the Clintons had this awe-inspiring, flawless political machine set to roll through the primaries. Given that they've blown their lead (not to mention their aura of inevitability), care to re-evaluate?
Anne E. Kornblut: Good point! The Clinton team always told us they weren't as masterful as people thought, and it looks as though they were right. What is interesting is that Clinton herself did not make any "for it before I was against it" blunders -- most of the problems have come from her husband, her campaign staff and her surrogates. But it is not, to be sure, the flawless machine, you are absolutely right.
Now that Hillary’s campaign is flagging, it’s worth remembering that the Clinton "machine" certainly hasn’t had to deal with much Clinton-scandal reporting or revisiting. From the Kornblut chat on February 4, these questions:
Nokesville, Va.: The right-wingers are charging "whitewash" of Hillary Clinton. They say nobody goes back and demands answers on what Hillary did in Whitewater, the Travel Office firings, her weird $100,000 capital gain in the cattle-futures market, etc. If she becomes the nominee, will the press go back and look into those again? They haven't so far.
Anne E. Kornblut: That's a hard one to answer. A lot of time and energy (and public dollars) were poured into those investigations in the 1990s and yielded little in the way of charges. But if the conservatives press the case, or launch other charges from more recent years, your guess is as good as mine.
And, from a pro-Hillary liberal:
Clinton investigations yielded little in the way of charges: I think you meant to say the investigations found little evidence to back a prosecution. If I recall correctly, there were charges leveled repeatedly against the Clintons. In fact, pretty much every day there was an attack published in The Post and New York Times.
Anne E. Kornblut: So I guess what I should have said is...there would be a lot of relitigating what happened in the 1990s, regardless of who was right?
Kornblut in these answers deploys the classic liberal-journalist trope on the Clinton scandals. Hillary was not indicted, therefore she never did anything sleazy that was worth digging up again for the voters. This is hardly the standard the Post had for Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson.
When asked about that day's story by Howard Kurtz in the Post, about how journalists like Roger Simon at Politico.com thought the media were clearly favoring Obama, Kornblut replied:
I have spent much, much more time covering Clinton than Obama, so I am in less of a position to measure than a (wonderful) reporter like Roger, but I can say that the level of hostility within the Clinton press corps is really very low. Certainly compared to the combativeness that you saw between Al Gore and the press in 2000 -- not to mention between Bill Clinton and the White House press corps that he loathed in the late 1990s-- the Clinton "bubble," as it's referred to, has been reasonably tame. Now, how that translates into stories is a different matter, and I think that is more what Kurtz/Simon were talking about.