Perhaps it was an apology for giving Hillary Clinton a tough interview last week, but NPR decided to make it up to her this week, with a long-winded gushy, self-flagellating interview by Fresh Air host Terry Gross, that let Clinton lay all the blame for losing the election on every one of her dozens of excuses, including the media.
After mutually commiserating about misogyny and sexism and the “legitimacy” of the election, Gross attempted to be a critic, and asked Clinton common sense questions about things she could’ve done differently. Clinton provided bizarre excuses for as to why she’s not responsible for anything that went wrong in her campaign, even remarking that there was nothing wrong with Bill Clinton meeting Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a private meeting.
Gross began the interview by apologizing to Clinton for their last interview together in 2014, where Gross pushed Clinton on her earlier stance against same-sex marriage. “My questions were a little unclear and unfocused,” Gross offered penitence. But, she added, “I think you were a little evasive.”
Gross then offered Clinton and the media a way out of who was to blame for Clinton flip-flopping on her gay marriage stance. It was the right-wing’s fault (of course!):
TERRY GROSS: It [the 2014 interview] actually went viral because of a right-wing website called America Rising. They had it up before we even had it up on our website, and America Rising's goal was to take quotes from the mainstream press and use them against you.
So the excerpt of our interview was taken out of context; it no longer had the context of you being a forceful LGBTQ advocate as secretary of state, and really you were definitely going to be stronger on LGBTQ rights than anyone America Rising would likely support for president.
So here was the right trying to turn your base against you, the right attacking you from the left. So my question to you is, did you know that America Rising was behind pushing it out and helping it go viral?
This wasn’t the first time Gross put the focus on the evil right wing during the interview. Later on, she brought up Trump’s team, and their work against the Clintons over the years, with the Clinton Cash book and Conway’s husband being part of the legal team that represented Paula Jones.
Despite all of the scandals Gross hinted at being legitimate criticisms of the Clintons, Gross sympathetically asked, “Were you expecting that if you ran for president, that the longtime anti-Clinton operatives would be part of your opposing campaign?”Which gave Clinton the perfect setup to boast of the good, moral work her and Bill have been doing for decades against the evil right wing:
“Terry, I have to say that the Republicans have been afraid of my husband and me for many years, and I think part of it is we don't go away, we don't give up, because we understand what's at stake," Clinton whined.
She went on to claim her husband fought bigotry and prejudice in politics, suggesting that those evils were part of the Republican party they had fought for so long against:
They fear us in large measure because my husband was a master politician who came out of the South, who understood and had been fighting against a lot of the same bigotry, bias, prejudice, paranoia that has been at work in American politics. When he was a governor he took on the NRA. He took on race. He stood up against a lot of these forces, and then he did so again when he was president…...So I view it as a perverse compliment from these really dedicated right-wingers, because they know that I know what they're really up to. They want a constitutional convention to rewrite America's Constitution to better favor business, to favor religious beliefs, to tear down the wall between church and state.
After blaming the vast right wing conspiracy against the Clintons, Gross shifted blame between Russia, Comey, and the press yet again, for covering the email scandal. Gross actually asked Clinton if there was anything the media “could’ve done” to help Clinton combat her many scandals:
What do you think the press could've done? I mean, once the information is out there, it's going to be reported on. What would you have liked to see the press have done?
After basically going through every one of Clinton’s excuses, from the right, to the press, to mysogny, to Comey, to the Russians, Gross speculated whether or not the election could be called “illegitimate” at some point. Would you “challenge” the election results? Gross posed. After Clinton gave a roundabout answer, Gross pressed again:
GROSS: I want to get back to the question, would you completely rule out questioning the legitimacy of this election if we learn that the Russian interference in the election is even deeper than we know now?
CLINTON: No. I would not. I would say —
GROSS: You're not going to rule it out.
CLINTON: No, I wouldn't rule it out.
But the most bizarre parts of the interview came when Gross attempted to be neutral and asked Clinton some questions she didn’t like. The NPR host tried to get Clinton to admit that her husband meeting the attorney general on the tarmac, while she was under FBI investigation, was not wise. Clinton wouldn’t even admit that much, denying that anything she or her husband did was wrong or even appeared unscrupulous:
GROSS: I want to ask you about Comey and the email investigation. Comey has said that he felt he needed publicly to say that the FBI was investigating your email server to protect the credibility of the investigation, after your husband spoke with then-head of the Justice Department Loretta Lynch, when their planes were on the tarmac together, and your husband went over to her plane and chatted with her.
I have no idea what they said, but it raised the question of conflict of interest and she was overseeing the investigation into the emails. So you paid a big price for that chat — we don't know what the outcome of the investigation would've been had it not been for that chat. So in assessing what went wrong with your campaign and with the election results, how much do you trace back to Bill Clinton's conversation with Loretta Lynch, and is that something you talk to him about?
But Clinton refused to shoulder any blame for anything, yet again, calling the accusations of impropriety “phony” and going on a long-winded rant against James Comey:
CLINTON: You know Terry, I think it was a phony rationalization by Comey for the following reasons: Both Loretta Lynch and Bill immediately said they talked about grandchildren; there was no subject raised that had any legal significance. That's No. 1.
No. 2: There's a chain of command in the Department of Justice. The deputy attorney general, Sally Yates, who I think people recognize as an incredibly experienced woman with great integrity, was next in line. So there was no reason why Comey could not have gone up the chain, which was what the protocol required....
But I do give him credit for recognizing there was no case. Where I part company is when there is no case that is all that's supposed to be announced. He had to go and do a press conference and indict the entire State Department...
Where I part company with him — and think he violated every rule in the book as an FBI director — was what he did on Oct. 28, because what he did then was to send a letter acting like he was reopening an investigation that had been closed to Congress, knowing it would be immediately leaked. And later on when asked, "Well, weren't you also conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign and their connections with Russia?" Yes. "Well, why didn't you tell the American people that?" Because it was too close to the election...
But Gross, rightly wanted a real answer on why Clinton didn’t think there was anything inappropriate for her husband meeting the attorney general for a private meeting. Clinton again bizarrely claimed innocence and naivete. This excuse coming from a couple who has been in politics for over 30 years?
GROSS: Just getting back for a second to the tarmac thing. Whether or not Comey was justified in his reaction, probably your husband shouldn't have gone onto that plane, right?
CLINTON: You know what? I don't think either he or Loretta Lynch — they never thought about it. It never crossed their mind! They both said that. Of course they said, in retrospect, for people to blow it up and make all kinds of innuendo out of it, they would never have done it.
They knew each other. Their planes were parked next to each other. They were exchanging pleasantries. I don't think my husband ever for a minute thought, "Oh my gosh, how is this going to look?" It never crossed his mind! And then obviously he and she wished it hadn't happened, because it was used to raise questions that — even if they had been legitimate — could've been handled in a different way.
After pressing again, Clinton didn’t have any more excuses so she again shifted blame to Comey:
GROSS: The thing with conflict of interest is it's about the appearance of conflict as much as it's about conflict, and that's one of the rules of journalism, the appearance of conflict is a conflict in and of itself.
CLINTON: He [Comey] could've said, "I'm really sorry the attorney general did this, and I'll take her at her word, nothing was said, but I ask her to recuse so I can go to the deputy attorney general." And he would've been told, "You don't have a press conference when you're saying there's no case."
Last Friday, PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff also asked Clinton about the secret tarmac meeting, asking if her husband had made a “costly mistake.” Clinton denied any culpability again:
"Judy, I just don't buy that. I honestly reject that premise, partly because there's a chain of command in the Justice Department. There's a deputy attorney general. We all now know who it was, Sally Yates, a woman of experience and integrity,” Clinton said, before saying it was James Comey’s fault, yet again.
Getting back to the NPR interview, Terry Gross also asked Clinton what she thought about the “lock her up” chants. Clinton, again, pulled out the naivete card, saying she thought, "What are they talking about and why are they saying this?" She continued to say it was “wrong” and there was “obviously” “no basis for it.”
At one point, Gross brought up another point of criticism, saying that “a lot of people” aren’t “comfortable” with Clinton “justifying” herself, saying she should’ve won the election:
GROSS: I think what some people are trying to figure out about your book and your tour, your book tour, is how much of it is about trying to defend our democracy — which you think is under attack, both by Russia but also by part of the right wing in America — and how much of it is just self-justification, like you lost, you're angry, you're specifically angry at some people, and Russia, and, like, where is the line? And I think a lot of people [are] more comfortable with the part where it feels like you're defending American democracy and less comfortable where you feel like you're just in it to justify yourself and to say, "I should've won, I did really win, and I'm really angry that I didn't."
Again, Clinton showed no remorse or any sense of self-reflection, saying she was justified in complaining about the election results, because, “democracy,” misogyny, Comey, Russia, Wikileaks, yada yada yada:
CLINTON: But I think they go hand in hand. Because I don't think you could know the story without me also saying, "Look, I made mistakes", and I talk about ...
GROSS: You do.
CLINTON: All of the mistakes that I made, my campaign made, and I'm happy to acknowledge those, because that was part of the retrospective that I had to go through to write this book. I don't think you can understand what I am most worried about in defending democracy unless you follow along with what happened.
So yes, I do think sexism and misogyny played a role, and it's not just about me — I make that clear. I think voter suppression played a much bigger role than people are acknowledging. That is not going away. I think Comey cost me the election, but it was aided and abetted by Russia, WikiLeaks and all the other things we've now found out about Russia.
So take me out of the equation. I'm not running again. I'm not going to be on the ballot. So take me out of the equation and say, "OK, the mistake she made, maybe we can learn from that, etc., etc. But what do we have to worry about?" I think I do a very clear job of saying here are the things we need to worry about going forward. And I also try to say, "Hey this is something that we all have a stake in." I am fundamentally optimistic about our country, but I am not naive, and I don't think we can change things unless we take it seriously.