September 13 on ABC’s The View, failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made her first talk show appearance since the election ten months ago, to promote her recently released memoir, What Happened. She sat at the table for over 40 minutes, fielding mostly friendly questions from the hosts.
While libertarian co-host Jedediah Bila asked Clinton some hard questions, the rest of the panel mainly fan-girled over Clinton, along with their adoring audience. Co-host Joy Behar even revealed when Clinton lost the election, she felt like a friend had died. “I went into mourning,” she gushed, showing a photograph of herself wearing a black veil.
Host Whoopi Goldberg began the interview by giving Clinton a warm welcome, along with sharing some bitterness over her election loss:
So many Americans were absolutely sure they'd be celebrating the first female president in U.S. History last November and, if you're still wondering what the hell happened right now this lady provides a lot of insight in her new memoir What Happened. Please welcome in her first talk show appearance since the debacle, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As Clinton walked on stage, a Kelly Clarkson song which said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” played loudly on stage. The audience was so excited they started whooping amidst their cheers and applause. One woman yelled out as the noise quieted down, “Thank you!” to Clinton.
“It’s been ten months since you know,” Whoopi started before covering her face. “Since the debacle!” Joy Behar helpfully added. They then asked Clinton why she wanted to “relive all this” by writing a book.
Clinton answered that the title of the book was one of the most common questions she received. After a while, she said, she decided it was time to be as “open, candid and self reflective as possible,” in figuring out what went wrong:
So I would write or read research and then I would go lie down. I wanted to pull the curtain back because it wasn't just in my mind a story about me and losing an election. It really was a story about our country. A story about resilience. A story about where do we go from here. The more I worked on it and wrote, the more I became convinced I had a pretty good idea about what happened, all the different factors and it really was cathartic.
“It’s so good and it’s so raw and it’s so transparent,” host Sunny Hostin gushed, before quoting White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' criticism of the book as filled with “false and reckless attacks.” Hostin invited Clinton to bash Sanders for those remarks.
The audience booed as Clinton dismissed the criticism. “I honestly don’t pay much attention to what she says,” she stated to audience applause.
“I think unfortunately -- I don't say this with any kind of glee we're not getting the kind of information from this White House we should have. Whether you agree or disagree whatever your party affiliation might be. This goes to a deeper and larger question that I write about in a book. A democracy depends on people debating and disagreeing but on the basis of reality. On the basis of facts and evidence,” Clinton added.
Jedediah Bila had the first critical question for Clinton, telling her that Democrats also had strong criticism for the book. “Democrats have come out and said,” that “[t]his book puts us in the past and we want to move forward, we want to figure out where to take this party, how to succeed in the future and this places us in the past,” Bila stated, before asking Clinton to respond to that critique from her peers.
Clinton said the book was just not about the past, but about the future and “Russia meddling with our elections.” Beyond that, she blamed the “suppression” of “African American and young voters,” “sexism” and “misogyny” as issues that affected the election that “we ought to start talking about,” she said, to cheers and applause.
Joy Behar agreed, before gushing to Clinton about how upset she was on election night.
“We agree with that. We totally agree with that.I was sure that you were going to win. Let me take you back to that night,” she began.
“So was I,” Clinton said, touching Behar’s arm sympathetically:
BEHAR: I know you were. We were so -- we were talking before about that night when anxiety started to get to me. I was positive you were going to win. Everyone was. Then when I saw that you weren't, we showed a picture. I went into mourning. I had a veil. [picture of Behar with black veil over her face]
JEDEDIAH BILA: This is a true story.
BEHAR: People were crying. It was like at a certain moment we were on the air when I realized you were not going to win. I felt like I had lost a friend or something. When did you actually connect that point that you were not going to win?
CLINTON: Election night.
BEHAR: Was there something that happened?
This gave Clinton the perfect opportunity to give a rant about why she lost the election:
CLINTON: Yes. I argue in the book and I am pleased that other independent analysts have reached the same conclusion. I would have won but for Jim Comey's letter on October 28th. Now people say but why would it have been so close? We have close elections. That is the reality of our politics right now. That stopped my momentum and it really did cause enough people to move away from me. Some moved to Trump. Some moved to third parties. Some didn't vote. The net effect was pretty clear. I thought I had gotten through it. I knew it hurt. I had no illusions about that. As you said, Joy, everybody -- not just our analysis our research, everybody thought--
BEHAR: Trump himself thought you were going to win.
CLINTON: Pollsters and he--they were seeing the same information we were seeing. It was a shock. I mean, I can't describe it any other way because what I thought was going to happen is it would be a close hard fought campaign, but I would win. Then I was looking forward to and had thought a lot about what I would do. It wasn't until that night that it really hit me that some of the results came in that were contrary to what me and everybody else thought.
But Behar wanted to know if her “friend” felt the same pain that she experienced.
“Did you cry? Did Bill cry?" she asked sympathetically with a chuckle. Clinton answered:
No. We didn't cry that night. Let me put it that way. First of all, I say in the book and I write really painfully about what happened that night. I felt like I had to, you know, be strong for my family and friends and my supporters. I hadn't spent any time thinking about a concession speech. I had to write one and deliver it the next day. It wasn't until that was over and Bill and I got into the back seat of our car and began to drive that I felt like ugh. The adrenaline was just gone.
After Whoopi added that it was difficult for a Democrat to follow a two-term Democratic president, Clinton agreed, before Behar added: “You did win in fact!”
“Well, I won the popular vote,” Clinton said to cheers and applause before they went to a commercial break.
About halfway through her lengthy appearance on the show, Jedediah Bila asked Clinton the first truly hostile question:
Secretary Clinton I'm a conservative. I have read your back cover to cover because I was really interested in your perspective and still am. One thing that bothered me, if I’m being honest with you, I felt there was some tone deafness as to why--when you say why the race was so close to begin with. I was talking to people throughout the country, I have Trump supporters in my family, that were saying we're frustrated with rising Obamacare costs we're frustrated with government overreach, we’re frustrated that we had a president that couldn't utter radical Islamic extremism with the ease that we wanted him to. Some of those people were voting for Trump based on real issues. Do you acknowledge that? That that was happening?
“I do acknowledge that for some people those were real issues. I of course take issue with them, because I was Secretary of State,” she began, before defending the Obama Administration’s handling of Islamic terrorism:
CLINTON: There was a very good reason the president and everyone around him was careful about the way you talked. You don't want to zero in and defeat the terrorists, you don’t want to inflame a religion of a billion people. [applause] So I really understand what the point was.
From here, somehow Clinton segwayed into blaming the media for not covering the policy differences between herself and Trump, as another reason as to why she lost. Instead, she said, they paid more attention to him to earn higher television ratings because he was “outrageous” and “inflammatory”:
CLINTON: There's a decent debate about this. That's what I wanted in this campaign. I don't think we got it. We got a reality TV show campaign. [Applause] I think that it was really hard. When you have a presidential campaign and the total number of minutes on TV news which is still how most people get their information covering all of our policies, climate change, anything else, was 32 minutes. I don't blame voters. Voters are going to hear what they hear because somebody is telling them. If they only hear one side, it's understandable that they only believe one side. If they don't get a broad base of information to make judgments on. So I think it's not only important to look at candidates and campaigns and frankly what the government has to do to deal with this Russian threat. The press has to say how are we going to cover candidates going forward who may take a page out of Trump's book. The more outrageous you are, the more inflammatory you are --
BEHAR: The higher the ratings.
CLINTON: The higher the ratings. At some point it isn’t a reality TV show. It's reality. We have to get back to people understanding and voting on that.
Sunny Hostin then praised Clinton for “taking responsibility” for the election loss, while at the same time asking her about her blaming Bernie Sanders:
You get a lot of criticism and you have when people say well she won't take responsibility for the loss. I read your book. You clearly took responsibility for the loss. You've always taken responsibility for the loss. But you claim others share responsibility as well. You've talk about Bernie Sanders and you say he shares responsibility. What do you mean by that?
Clinton rehashed her concerns about Sanders and his supporters not endorsing or supporting her after she was elected as the Democratic candidate. Bila wondered if the DNC leaks had anything to do with Sanders supporters not getting behind Clinton. Clinton downplayed the leaks, and boasted of her long career as a Democrat:
It shouldn’t surprise anybody that a lot of Democrats supported me and voted for me in very large numbers. What did surprise me there was this concerted effort by the Russians to turn not just Sanders supporters but a lot of voters using propaganda against me. That has never happened before. We've got to sort all this out. Because at the end of the day, what matters most is what happens next.
Towards the end of the interview, Hostin was the first host to take the questions to a more personal level, raising questions about Clinton’s marriage while making another dig at Republicans:
HOSTIN: The Republicans -- the Republican party bills itself as the party of family values. However, many Republicans have been very critical of your staying in your marriage. They say that it is a marriage of political convenience.
BEHAR: Is that in the book?
HAINES: There's a lot of good stuff in the book!
HOSTIN: As opposed to saying that staying in a marriage is a family value? What is your response? Why did you stay in your marriage?
CLINTON: I wrote about it. I hope everyone reads it, whoever has asked themselves this question. Basically I say, I hear that. People say they have an arrangement. Yeah, it's called a marriage.
HAINES: I have one of those.
HOSTIN: Me too.
CLINTON: There have been a lot more happy days than sad or angry days. I'm very proud and grateful that I'm married to my best friend. That he has been my biggest source of encouragement and support over all the years, many more than some of you have been alive that we have been together. It is important for people to recognize also that this whole idea of -- as you started out saying “family values” can be used as such a sword to hurt people.
CLINTON: You know, oftentimes nobody really knows what is the fact. I think it's time that we really tried to support people in their decisions and give them more understanding and compassion.
BEHAR/WHOOPI: And to mind your business.
CLINTON: And to mind their own business. [Cheers and applause]
They ended the show with Behar inviting Clinton to bash Trump for “stalking her” during one of the debates. She responded, “At the end of the day people were going to say this is a big job. It's a really hard job. Let's go with the person who was the adult in the room. I was hoping that would be me.”
Behar then presented a sweatshirt with the words “Back up” as a gift to Clinton, that she could wear next time she saw Trump, which she chuckled at.