Today Hosts Coddle Clinton: ‘How’s Your Pain?’

In a friendly softball chat with Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, NBC’s Today show co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer did their best to feel the pain of the failed Democratic presidential nominee, even calling her new book about the 2016 campaign a “literary cleanse” designed to heal the wounds of her defeat.         

Guthrie began the interview by comparing Clinton’s loss to the pain of childbirth: “I remember I gave birth nine months ago and afterwards they come to you and they say, how’s your pain, scale to ten, one to ten? How’s your pain? So I thought let’s start there, how’s your pain, how are you doing?”

 

 

After Clinton described writing her memoir, What Happened, as “cathartic,” Lauer chimed in: “Cathartic is an interesting word because people are using words to describe this book that they don't normally use in association with you, ‘unrestrained,’ ‘very candid.’ People say you’ve taken your political straightjacket off and been unleashed a little bit to say what you really wanted to say.”

“Did you view it as a historic document, or did you view it as kind of a literary version of a cleanse for you?,” the anchor wondered.

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Later in the exchange, Guthrie sympathized: “You talk about sexism....You talk about misogyny. And I don’t have to tell you as a female in public life, that’s something that a lot of female political candidates try not to talk about when they’re running for office. And yet, here you are and you lay it out.”

The host then asked: “I was thinking, this country did elect an African-American president twice. Do you think it’s harder for Americans to elect a woman than it is an African-American man?” Clinton replied: “I think there’s a lot of evidence, a lot of research supporting the idea that race is a much more motivating factor for voters than gender is.”

Lauer continued the pity party:

This word ‘likeable’ is such a simple word and yet it’s very complex....You write in the book about trying to come to terms with this idea that there are a lot of people in this country who simply don’t like you, not for political reasons, but it seems more personal reasons. At this stage in your life, does even having to ask yourself the question of why, hurt?

That teed up Clinton to whine about being “in the eye of the storm for a very long time in American public life” and having “a lot of stuff that’s been thrown at me year after year.” Reminiscent of a nearly 20-year-old interview with Lauer, she then dredged up tired rhetoric about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” being out to get her:

But a lot of it is, for whatever reason, the idea among some that I really do take seriously the threat posed from the right to this country, to our economic equality, to our civil rights. I take it really seriously. It’s not – it’s not just a political issue for me, and they are constantly trying to undermine me.

Wrapping up part two of the conversation in the 8 a.m. ET hour, Guthrie wondered how Clinton could even bear to listen to the news: “Donald Trump, when you hear – you were just watching our newscast the other day, or just a few minutes ago, and we say, ‘President Trump this, President Trump that.’ When you hear that, ‘President Trump,’ does it – what visceral reaction do you have?”

In part one of the sit-down, Lauer asked Clinton if she thought Trump “stole the election.”

The biased interview was brought to viewers by Sherwin-Williams, Ford, and Citi.

Here are excerpts of the September 13 discussion:

7:37 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I remember I gave birth nine months ago and afterwards they come to you and they say, how’s your pain, scale to ten, one to ten? How’s your pain? So I thought let’s start there, how’s your pain, how are you doing?

(...)

MATT LAUER: Cathartic is an interesting word because people are using words to describe this book that they don't normally use in association with you, “unrestrained,” “very candid.” People say you’ve taken your political straightjacket off and been unleashed a little bit to say what you really wanted to say. Did you view it as a historic document, or did you view it as kind of a literary version of a cleanse for you?

(...)

GUTHRIE: Can we talk about another issue you raise in the book? You talk about sexism.

CLINTON: I do.

GUTHRIE: You talk about misogyny. And I don’t have to tell you as a female in public life, that’s something that a lot of female political candidates try not to talk about when they’re running for office. And yet, here you are and you lay it out. I was thinking, this country did elect an African-American president twice. Do you think it’s harder for Americans to elect a woman than it is an African-American man?

CLINTON: I think there’s a lot of evidence, a lot of research supporting the idea that race is a much more motivating factor for voters than gender is.

(...)

7:45 AM ET

LAUER: This word “likeable” is such a simple word and yet it’s very complex.

CLINTON: Yeah, but it’s freighted.  

LAUER: I remember 2008, during one of the debates with Barack Obama, where he made that famous comment, “Hillary, you’re likable enough.” You write in the book about trying to come to terms with this idea that there are a lot of people in this country who simply don’t like you, not for political reasons, but it seems more personal reasons.

CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

LAUER: At this stage in your life, does even having to ask yourself the question of why, hurt?

CLINTON: No, it doesn’t, Matt, because, see, I think they’re tangled. You know, when I’m serving in an office, as I said, like Secretary of State, I have really high favorability ratings. But as I write in the book, you know, I have been, and I admit this, you know, in the eye of the storm for a very long time in American public life. And so, I have a lot of stuff that’s been thrown at me year after year, and I have tried to overcome it, stay focused on the job, do the best I could to help people, which is really why I’m motivated in this.  

And I write about how – like today the Benghazi tragedy. You know, I have one of the top Republicans, Kevin McCarthy, admitting, like, “We’re going to take that tragedy” – because now we’ve lost people, unfortunately, going back to the Reagan administration, if you talk about recent times in diplomatic attacks – but, boy, it was turned into a political football, and it was aimed at undermining my credibility, my record, my accomplishments. And, you know, I get why people will say, “Well, hey, you know, there’s all this noise around her all the time.”

And some of it is of my own doing. I mean, I’m a person, I know that. But a lot of it is, for whatever reason, the idea among some that I really do take seriously the threat posed from the right to this country, to our economic equality, to our civil rights. I take it really seriously. It’s not – it’s not just a political issue for me, and they are constantly trying to undermine me.

(...)

8:12 AM ET

GUTHRIE: Donald Trump, when you hear – you were just watching our newscast the other day, or just a few minutes ago, and we say, “President Trump this, President Trump that. When you hear that, “President Trump,” does it – what visceral reaction do you have?

CLINTON: Well, he is the president. I respect, you know, the fact that, you know, he is the president. I just wish that he were the president for all Americans. I wish that he was not engaging in a lot of the scapegoating and behavior in office that I think is bad for the country.

(...)


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