FLASHBACK: Media Roll Over For Hillary on Her Book Tours

It’s already started: CBS’s Jane Pauley rolled out the red carpet for Hillary Clinton, in her first book tour stop promoting What Happened. The CBS Sunday Morning host treated the 2016 loser with kid gloves as she tenderly laid up softball after softball, feeling Hillary’s pain: “So, I’m wondering: How are you?...Can we talk about election day. Did you have any clue what the outcome of that day would be?”

Of course, this is the kind of book tour treatment Clinton has grown accustomed to, whether she was hawking a book as First Lady, first year Senator or presidential candidate.

It all started in 1996 when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton was pitching her book It Takes A Village. While questions swirled about her personal involvement in the Whitewater and Travelgate scandals, Clinton sat down with NBC’s Maria Shriver on the Today show, where she had to endure such hard-hitting questions like: “You also quote a letter in there that Nelson Mandela wrote to one of his daughters while he was in prison....he wrote that there is no personal misfortune that one cannot turn into a personal triumph if one has the iron will and the necessary skills. You clearly have an iron will, you clearly are skilled. How are you going to turn this personal misfortune into a personal triumph?”

For her 2000 book tour – as Clinton was preparing to enter the Senate – Today show anchor Katie Couric peppered Hillary with such hardballs as: “What are you most looking forward to? Obviously getting to work, but when you think of the array of possibilities before you?” and, “[Senator Trent Lott] said, I’ll tell you one thing when this Hillary gets to the Senate... she’ll be one of a hundred and we won’t let her forget it. Didn’t sound as if he was putting out the welcome mat for you, did he?”

In 2003 ABC’s Barbara Walters tried to help Hillary sell Living History by inviting her onto her special where she gushed: “You became First Lady like no other First Lady before you....No First Lady had done that without being severely criticized. Did you realize what you were getting into?...I don’t think people realize how strong your faith is.”    

On the eve of her 2014 book tour for Hard Choices, Clinton laughably claimed she and her husband left the White House “dead broke,” but this didn’t stop the media from carrying the water for the eventual 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. CBS’s Jane Pauley practically begged for Clinton to get into the race in her stop at CBS Sunday Morning: “I was stunned. It takes two pages to cover the list of countries that have already had a woman leader....If not you, who? Who is the viable woman of either party who could win a primary nomination in 2016 if not you?”

The following is a look back, via the MRC’s archives, of the gushiest suck-up Hillary interviews from her various book tours over the past 21 years: 

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2014

Pleading With Hillary to Run: “If Not You, Who?”

 

 

“I was stunned. It takes two pages to cover the list of countries that have already had a woman leader....It includes Bangladesh, Indonesia, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, of course. Are we waiting for alphabetical order?...If not you, who? Who is the viable woman of either party who could win a primary nomination in 2016 if not you?”
CBS Sunday Morning contributor Jane Pauley to Hillary Clinton in an interview for her book Hard Choices, aired June 15, 2014.

 

Don’t Criticize Hillary — Just “Enjoy” Her “Refreshing” Gaffes

Host Alex Wagner: “Is this a good rollout? Do you think that Clinton World thinks this is a necessary early step in terms of neutralizing controversy?”
New York Times national political reporter Amy Chozick: “I think political reporters who covered her in 2008 sort of enjoy these past couple gaffes, if you’ll call them that, because it says she is not as scripted, she’s not polling every single response that comes out of her mouth. And I think that that is sort of a refreshing sign from the candidate.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner, June 10, 2014.

“I actually welcomed the slip-ups, because I thought that signaled that if she’s a candidate in 2016, maybe she won’t be so scripted and everything that she says is polled, to figure out how Americans feel about it before she utters every line. I kind of found the gaffe sort of refreshing in a way, at least as a political reporter.”
— Chozick a few hours later on PBS Newshour, June 10, 2014.

 

How Objective: Starting Interview by Reading Laudatory Poem

 

 

“Few people have spent the past 20 years in the public eye as much as she has. She has been First Lady, United States Senator and then Secretary of State....Maya Angelou, the late Maya Angelou wrote a poem about her during the 2008 presidential campaign. It contains these lines: ‘There is a world of difference between being a woman and a being an old female. If you’re born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the times she takes up and the space she occupies. Hillary Clinton is a woman.’ Some say she may be the first woman in the White House. I am pleased to have Hillary Clinton back at this table. Welcome.”
— Host Charlie Rose setting up an interview with Clinton on his PBS program, July 17, 2014.

 

Imagine ABC Asking Mitt Romney These Questions

 

 

“You and your husband have very intense schedules. How much quality time — let’s say how many days in the month are you actually able to be together as a family?...You’re going to be a grandmother in the fall. Have you offered any names to Chelsea?... Politician you’d let babysit your future grandchild?... Game 3 of the NBA finals. Heat or Spurs? So you gotta go with Texas or Florida. That’s tough.”
— ABC’s Robin Roberts to Hillary Clinton on Good Morning America, June 10, 2014.

 

2003

Hillary’s Grueling Chat with Babs

“You became First Lady like no other First Lady before you. You had your own interests, you got involved in public policy. No First Lady had done that without being severely criticized. Did you realize what you were getting into?”...
“I don’t think people realize how strong your faith is.”
— Questions Barbara Walters posed to Hillary Clinton in a June 8, 2003 ABC special promoting her book, Living History.

 

Hillary’s Little Helper

“She [Senator Hillary Clinton] should thank you, Barbara, because after you did the interview, after you did that interview with ABC News with Hillary, first time she was speaking out about the book, talking about it, the next day 300,000 copies flew off the shelves of that book. So Barbara, she owes you a big thank you.”
— Former CBS News correspondent Meredith Vieira to Barbara Walters on ABC’s The View, July 10, 2003.

 

Ken Starr’s Vast Sexist Conspiracy

“In the book you have a lot to say about forgiveness. Have you forgiven Ken Starr?
Is the ‘vast, right-wing conspiracy’ bigger than you thought when you brought that term into our vocabulary?”
Time’s Nancy Gibbs in an interview with Hillary Clinton published in the June 16, 2003 issue.

“But were you surprised at the backlash? The really vitriolic, violent backlash against you in many ways? Do you think it was good old-fashioned sexism?” 
— Katie Couric to Hillary Clinton on Today, June 10, 2003.

 

No Skepticism of “Candid” Clinton

“Senator Clinton reveals how she learned the painful truth about her husband and Monica Lewinsky....She’s very candid about a very personal matter.”
— NBC’s Katie Couric on Today, June 4, 2003.

“Bombshell new details are emerging this morning from Hillary Clinton’s book going on sale next week. In it Mrs. Clinton writes candidly about the moment her husband admitted he’d been unfaithful.”
— NBC’s Sara James on Today, June 4, 2003.

“Months earlier, when he [Bill Clinton] made his famous public denial, he was also lying to his wife in private. Mrs. Clinton believed him and, famously, went on national television, unwittingly repeating his lies and denouncing the reports about Lewinsky as the product of a vast right-wing conspiracy.”
— CNN’s Jonathan Karl on Inside Politics, June 4, 2003.

2000

Hillary, You Are Our Hero

“What are you most looking forward to? Obviously getting to work, but when you think of the array of possibilities before you?”...
“Let me ask you for your reaction to a statement Trent Lott made recently. Because it was quite interesting. He said, I’ll tell you one thing when this Hillary gets to the Senate... she’ll be one of a hundred and we won’t let her forget it. Didn’t sound as if he was putting out the welcome mat for you, did he?”...
“You obviously enjoyed the domestic aspects of your role as First Lady, but wasn’t it hard to balance being an activist First Lady and the responsibilities of a more traditional First Lady?”
— Katie Couric to Hillary Clinton, live from the White House to promote Hillary’s new book on White House entertaining, Today, November 28, 2000.        

 

1996

Maria Shriver: Did the Homework, Failed the Test

Tim Russert: “How long did you take to prepare for that interview?”
Maria Shriver: “A couple of weeks, about two or three weeks, and I read everything. I memorized that book up and down. I memorized everything that was written about Whitewater, about Travelgate, about Hillary Clinton, about First Ladies....You want to admire her, and yet you’re a journalist and you have to ask her these tough questions, you have to be skeptical, and you can’t just come on and do this like ‘Oh, you’re so wonderful’ interview.”
—  Maria Shriver on her interview with Hillary Clinton for her book It Takes a Village, CNBC’s Tim Russert, February 4, 1996.

Reality Check:

“What’s this week been like for you personally?”

“...In the book, you write about preparing your daughter Chelsea for the negative things people might say to her about her father, but you don’t say in the book about preparing her for the negative things people might say about her mom. What’s this past week, two weeks been like for her?”

“...You also quote a letter in there that Nelson Mandela wrote to one of his daughters while he was in prison, and I’m paraphrasing a bit, but he wrote that there is no personal misfortune that one cannot turn into a personal triumph if one has the iron will and the necessary skills. You clearly have an iron will, you clearly are skilled. How are you going to turn this personal misfortune into a personal triumph?”
—  Some of Shriver’s tough questions to Hillary Clinton, Today, January 16, 1996. 

“I think it’s been a pretty good week for Mrs. Clinton. I think that a lot of people even listening to the program so much today keep saying ‘What’s the crime? What did she do so wrong?’ It’s a little bit like the budget. Mr. Clinton’s protecting us and everybody is against him. I think there is beginning to be the feeling of she’s being harassed too much.”
—  Barbara Walters on This Week with David Brinkley, January 14, 1996.


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Research NBDaily Robin Roberts Jane Pauley Charlie Rose Hillary Clinton