Tapper Starts Soft; Asks Hillary What She’s Learned about Bill ‘You Didn’t Know 40 Years Ago’

Finally getting his chance to interview Hillary Clinton on Friday’s The Lead, CNN anchor Jake Tapper didn’t exactly measure up as while he did what other reporters failed to do in asking Clinton about her relationship with Sidney Blumenthal, he cozied up to her on the recent marking of her and Bill’s 40th wedding anniversary plus sarcastically asking he could “get your e-mail address.”

Right off the top, Tapper congratulated Clinton on a new poll from New Hampshire that finds her back ahead of Bernie Sanders and asked her “what the pundit in chief” in her husband “said to you after the debate.”

When Clinton brought up their wedding anniversary, Tapper chose to briefly dwelled on that and wondered in quite a loaded question: “[W]hat do you know about him now that you didn’t know 40 years ago?”

After some questions about her debate performance, Sanders proposals being “unrealistic” but “ambitious,” Tapper brought up gun control and specifically her flip-flop from 2008 when she attempted to run to the right of then-Senator Barack Obama on gun control.

In a portion of the interview that does deserve credit, Tapper got to Benghazi in the second half of the interview by referring to the security lapses in the tumultuous country that led to the deadly attack on September 11, 2012 (but featured zero follow-ups after this exchange):

TAPPER: I covered the Benghazi situation, the Benghazi tragedy when I was a White House correspondent and there's something I just never really understood and that is why did the State Department deny all those security requests? The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled in testimony asking for 12 new security agents and he was talking to a regional director who said he was asking for the sun, the moon and the stars. It got so bad, Nordstrom said that it said he was fighting the state department. It was like having the Taliban on the inside of the building. 

CLINTON: Well, the accountability review board that I commissioned went into this in great detail and they made some recommendations that – 

TAPPER: I know, but I guess the question is why weren't the security requests made?

Shortly thereafter, Tapper asked her this about her calculated decision to use a private e-mail:

With all your experience, why wouldn't you anticipate that over the course of four years handling very sensitive diplomatic negotiations, overseeing military interventions and surveillance, why wouldn't you anticipate that something classified, whether about North Korea or Iran or drones or an informant for the CIA that it wouldn't be e-mailed to you? And why wouldn't you consider that having it on your personal account with some server in Colorado might be a potential risk?

When Tapper hit Clinton for never considering how e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal contained “very sensitive information,” Clinton shrugged it off with the excuse that Blumenthal was not an official government worker and compared it to Clinton sending something to Tapper.

Capping off the interview, however, Tapper went gushy by joking with Clinton about obtaining her e-mail address: 

TAPPER: Can I get your e-mail address? 

CLINTON: Sure. You want to send me something that might be interesting? 

TAPPER: I'm just wondering for the future. I haven't had that kind of relationship with you, but if that was like a hidden offer. 

CLINTON: Yeah, sure and you can give me, you know, what you hear politically. I might make use of it.     

Looking back at seven television interviews Clinton has given since July 7, Tapper’s attempt stands in contrast to Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour drilled Clinton on October 7 about the administration’s policy to Russia, using an article by Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler to hit her on the e-mail server, and pushing her to denounce criticisms leveled against Sanders by her supporters. 

While it ended on a very soft note with Clinton tearing up, ABC’s David Muir posed this tough opening question on September 8's World News Tonight

When voters were asked, what is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton, words like liar, dishonest, untrustworthy were at the top of the list. Does this tell you that your original explanation about the private server, that you did it to carry one phone, out of convenience, that this didn't sit well with the American people?

Even in the Brianna Keilar interview on July 7, the presidential candidate was repeatedly pushed on her tumbling poll numbers and if she can “understand why” voters don’t believe her and if she “bear[s] any responsibility” for that happening.

The relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper on October 16 can be found below.

CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper
October 16, 2015
4:03 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: So, congratulations on this new poll number in New Hampshire showing that you're polling ahead of Bernie Sanders in a state where you've lagged a little. He's from neighboring Vermont. The reviews obviously very positive for many pundits. I'm wondering what the pundit in chief, your husband who was in Vegas, I'm wondering what he said to you after the debate.

(....)

TAPPER: As long as you bring it up, 40 years of marriage. 

HILLARY CLINTON: 40 years, Jake. 40 years. 

TAPPER: How – how – what do you know about him now that you didn't know 40 years ago? 

(....)

TAPPER: Turning to the debate, you said at the debate that you're a progressive but you're a progressive that likes to get things done. Sanders has plans that I think might be fairly called more ambitious than yours in terms of expanding Medicare for everybody, basically single parent health care, free college tuition and across the board expansion of Social Security benefits. Do you think he's being unrealistic when he makes these proposals in terms of what can actually get passed through Congress?

(....)

TAPPER: Why are his plans more ambitious?

(....)

TAPPER: You're talking a lot at the debate and on the stump about further restrictions on gun ownership, gun control. 

CLINTON: Uh-huh. 

TAPPER: I remember in 2008 during the primaries, you were positioning yourself to the right of President Obama – or then-Senator Obama on this issue. You talked about respecting how guns are part of the culture, sending out a mailer criticizing then-Senator Obama for pushing tougher gun laws. Now, you're coming at Bernie Sanders on this issue from the left. Did something change or is it just about who you're running against?

(....)

TAPPER:  I covered the Benghazi situation, the Benghazi tragedy when I was a White House correspondent and there's something I just never really understood and that is why did the State Department deny all those security requests? The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled in testimony asking for 12 new security agents and he was talking to a regional director who said he was asking for the sun, the moon and the stars. It got so bad, Nordstrom said that it said he was fighting the state department. It was like having the Taliban on the inside of the building. 

CLINTON: Well, the accountability review board that I commissioned went into this in great detail and they made some recommendations that – 

TAPPER: I know, but I guess the question is why weren't the security requests made?

(....)

TAPPER: I know Bernie Sanders said that, quote, “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.” But there are a lot of people who are not –

CLINTON: Well. [LAUGHS]

TAPPER: – including FBI officials looking into whether national security was compromised because of this server and this is something else that is very confusing to me. With all your experience, why wouldn't you anticipate that over the course of four years handling very sensitive diplomatic negotiations, overseeing military interventions and surveillance, why wouldn't you anticipate that something classified, whether about North Korea or Iran or drones or an informant for the CIA that it wouldn't be e-mailed to you? And why wouldn't you consider that having it on your personal account with some server in Colorado might be a potential risk?

(....)

TAPPER: But it never occurred to you when any of these e-mails coming in from Sid Blumenthal with very sensitive information – 

CLINTON: Sid Blumenthal was not a government employee or official. It would be like you sending me something, Jake.

(....)

TAPPER: Can I get your e-mail address? 

CLINTON: Sure. You want to send me something that might be interesting? 

TAPPER: I'm just wondering for the future. I haven't had that kind of relationship with you, but if that was like a hidden offer. 

CLINTON: Yeah, sure and you can give me, you know, what you hear politically. I might make use of it.


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