Have Media Made Hillary Clinton a Dead Candidate Walking?

June 1st, 2006 12:00 AM

As published at The American Thinker and read on air Wednesday by Rush Limbaugh:

For Hillary Clinton and her terminally unfaithful husband, last week must have seemed like a Wes Craven version of an old musical comedy reworked and entitled “A Ghastly Thing Happened on the Way Back to the White House.”

With Hillary leading in most polls as the prohibitive favorite to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, many party loyalists and typically favorable media members appear to be jumping off her bandwagon. At the same time, these very folks are falling over themselves to assist in the makeover and revitalization of former vice president Al Gore.

Coincidence? Unlikely. In fact, this is starting to resemble what these same folks did to Howard Dean during his 2004 presidential run.

For those that have forgotten, Dean was riding high in the polls in the winter of 2004. However, few top-ranking Democrats believed that he could beat President Bush in November. As a result, Time and Newsweek both ran cover stories on January 12, 2004 questioning his “electability” beyond the primaries. As Eric Boehlert wrote in Salon on January 13:

“The former Vermont governor remains the front-runner among Democratic voters, but he’s gotten increasingly caustic treatment from the media, which has dwelled on three big themes—that Dean’s angry, gaffe-prone and probably not electable—while giving comparatively far less ink to the doctor’s policy and political prescriptions that have catapulted him ahead of the Democratic field. Newsweek’s critical Jan. 12 cover story, ‘All the Rage: Dean’s Shoot-From-the-Hip Style and Shifting Views Might Doom Him in November,’ achieved a nifty trifecta that covered anger, gaffes and electability, all three of the main media raps against Dean.”

The minefield having been properly laid, candidate Dean less than a week later stepped on an IED in Iowa. Having just lost the caucuses there, with video cameras rolling, candidate Dean performed his now infamous “I Have A Scream” speech. The media played this video over and over for a week as if it were a hit record with a bullet literally ending Dean’s presidential quest.

With the successful assassination of the Dean candidacy behind them, the media quickly jumped on the John Kerry bandwagon. Newsweek did a cover story about Kerry on February 2, 2004 entitled “Bring it On”; Time was even more resolute with its February 9 cover story, “What Kind of President Would JOHN KERRY Make?”

Yes, Time really did capitalize Kerry’s name in the headline. Some gall, huh?

Now, more than two years later, the left and their drive-by media minions appear to be again throwing one well-polling presidential candidate who they believe is unelectable over for another. Yet, this time, they’re not waiting until ten months before Election Day. Instead, it seems Democrat insiders want Hillary out of the way more expeditiously to allow her challenger ample time to mount an effective campaign.

Let’s look at some of the facts. The pre-Memorial Day week began poorly for the Clintons, as one of their major media cheerleaders, Chris Matthews, started the May 21 Sunday installment of the show bearing his name:

“First up, tanned, rested and ready. After narrowly losing the presidency but winning the popular vote Al Gore grew a beard and went into political hibernation popping up once in a blue moon to blast Bush but he ducked at chance for a rematch in 2004 endorsing Howard Dean just before Dean flamed out. But now we’re seeing a new more confident Gore.”

Matthews then posed this to his panel:

“The backdrop seems to have changed. The war’s turned very unpopular. A majority of the people now clearly say it was a mistake to go. Hillary Clinton still in the pro-war camp vaguely, somewhere over there. Does this create an opportunity on the left of Hillary in the Democratic Party that could end up being the explosive winner of the nomination?”

NBC’s David Gregory, a huge Clinton supporter and apologist, chimed in:

“I do think that there’s some frustration in—among Democrats that Hillary Clinton is running kind of a general election campaign already before she’s gotten the nomination, and Al Gore’s got the credibility, foreign policy experience, been opposed to the war for a long time, connected with the so-called net roots of the Internet and all of that.”

At the end of the show, Time’s Joe Klein, another Clinton cheerleader, said:

“Hillary Clinton may be running for president, but she also may not be. And I just want to be on the record as saying that it is very…it is very—I think that there’s a strong possibility that she is so happy and so successful in the Senate that she will not want to take the risk.”

Imagine that: three major Clinton devotees downplaying a Hillary presidential run while praising Al Gore in the same half hour. Seems almost unthinkable. Nevertheless, it happened.

Yet, that wasn’t the only bombshell to be lobbed at the Clintons last week. The New York Times did a lengthy piece two days later about their peculiar marital relationship: “When the subject of Bill and Hillary Clinton comes up for many prominent Democrats these days, Topic A is the state of their marriage — and how the most dissected relationship in American life might affect Mrs. Clinton’s possible bid for the presidency in 2008.”

Adding insult to injury, the following morning, NBC’s Katie Couric invited Al Gore on to the Today Show to discuss his new movie about global warming. As reported by NewsBusters, Couric gushed all over her guest: “I think in this movie, at different turns, you are funny, vulnerable, disarming, self-effacing and someone said after watching it, ‘if only he was like this before, maybe things would have turned out differently in 2000.’”

This certainly wasn’t the only television sighting of Al Gore recently. Far from it. As chronicled by a May 24 Business & Media Institute article:  “He has appeared or been mentioned on 23 news and news-related shows in just the last month (April 23-May 23) on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN.”

Since then, Gore was the subject of a piece by CNN’s Bill Schneider during the May 24 installment of The Situation Room:

“Wolf, the new Al Gore movie opens today. Is it a star is born or could it be a political star is reborn? Could this be Al Gore’s moment?”

The following evening on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams brought on former anchor Tom Brokaw to talk about – you guessed it – Al Gore and his new movie. As reported by NewsBusters, Brokaw stated: “Gore’s high-profile involvement in this film and in other public appearances these days is causing a political buzz.”

You bet it is, Tom. But the Gore cheerleading wasn’t even close to ending.

The next day, as reported by NewsBusters, conceivably one of the strongest Clinton proponents in the media, Eleanor Clift, said on May 26’s McLaughlin Group: “He’s campaigning to awaken the political leadership to the threat of global warming, but it’s a campaign that can easily turn into a campaign for himself if he sees an opening.”

Yet, Hillary’s worst day of the week, and not so coincidentally Gore’s best, might have been Sunday, May 28. The bizarre cocktail of two parts assassination with one part coronation began early in the morning in Frank Rich’s New York Times op-ed:

“It was just after Mr. Gore appeared on ‘Saturday Night Live’ to kick off his movie’s publicity campaign that long-rumbling discontent with the party’s presumptive (if unannounced) presidential front-runner, Hillary Clinton, boiled over. Last week both New York magazine and The New Yorker ran lead articles quoting party insiders who described a Clinton candidacy in 2008 as a pox tantamount to avian flu. The Times jumped in with a front-page remembrance of headlines past: a dissection of the Clinton marriage.

“If Senator Clinton is the Antichrist, might not it be time for a resurrected messiah to inherit (and save) the earth? Enter Mr. Gore, celebrated by New York on its cover as ‘The Un-Hillary.’’‘

Powerful stuff from The Times to be sure. But, the best was yet to come as Chris Matthews and his friends mysteriously excoriated Hillary for the second Sunday in a row. Matthews began the May 28 program by referencing and reading from Tuesday’s New York Times article: “This week Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Bill became front page news all over again.”

After the set-up, Matthews asked Time’s Mike Duffy: “Is it true, the main part of their story, that big shot Democrats are buzzing about this topic?”

Duffy answered, “No question.” Then, CBS’s Gloria Borger, another major Clinton supporter, chimed in:

“I think they’re very worried, not only about the Clinton marriage but also the notion of just the Clintons. Is this, as Mike says, a step backward? How will the Clintons portray themselves? You know, Bill Clinton is no Laura Bush.”

The death knell came from Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter who claimed that he knows someone “very close to the [Clinton] family” who “needs ammo to go to her, in his case, urge her not to run for president. He wants some help from the press, and this begins to provide it.”

Matthews agreed:

“If this story portends more press coverage and scrutiny, which I think it does. It takes-I think, big organization news organizations-are already assembling stories and deciding when to run them about Bill Clinton’s private life, if you will, and how it’s going to affect this campaign.”

Duffy then spoke a truth that seems to be boiling to the surface with all this negative coverage of the Clintons last week: “The Times could have been more transparent because a lot of people who are talking and buzzing about this aren’t for her and aren’t for him, they’re for other people in the race and they want her actually out of it.”

Could the other person be Al Gore? Does this mean that Hillary is a dead candidate walking? Well, just consider that the last time the media spent a solid week publicly eviscerating a Democrat, he ended up as the chairman of the party instead of its presidential nominee.