A NewsBusters Special Report: Hillary Clinton’s Media Fan Club

On July 27, the Democratic Party will officially nominate Hillary Clinton to be their candidate for President this fall. Clinton’s supporters in the media have argued that her rise has been all the more remarkable because she has supposedly endured “unfair” and “hostile” treatment from the national media.

“She has run, essentially, for the last 20 years against — with the media in her face, right? She has run against the wind, against the tide of coverage,” MSNBC’s Joy Reid claimed during her network’s coverage of the New York primary in April. She added: “I think the media has a very negative relationship with Hillary Clinton and has... for 30-plus years.”

During a May 8 appearance on FNC’s MediaBuzz, CBS’s Lesley Stahl echoed Reid: “I think Hillary is getting a pretty tough press, and I think she will continue to get a pretty tough press because she is powerful now.”

These sentiments are hardly new. Back in June 2008, after Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, then-CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric complained at a Washington luncheon, in a quote later published by MediaBistro.com: “However you feel about her politics, I feel that Senator Clinton received some of the most unfair, hostile coverage I’ve ever seen.”

The notion that Clinton was uniquely oppressed by the press was also trotted out reject the idea that 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had a legitimate complaint about how she was treated by the media. “The simple fact of the matter is if Sarah Palin thinks that she’s had it tougher than anybody else, she’s been more harshly criticized, I have two words for her: Hillary Clinton,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Cynthia Tucker claimed on ABC’s This Week in July 2009, after Palin stepped down as Alaska’s governor. Tucker insisted: “Hillary Clinton was savaged for eight years.”

Hardly. While conservative columnists and commentators have certainly criticized Clinton’s liberal, big government policies — and her involvement in more major scandals than any national political figure other than her husband — the liberal media establishment has spent the past 25 years celebrating Clinton as an “icon of American woman-hood,” while fiercely attacking those who would challenge her ethics.

Far from impeding Hillary Clinton’s career with hostile coverage, the establishment media have enabled her political rise with what amounts to a 25-year-long infomercial on her behalf: admiring testimonials about her greatness, and nasty slams against her critics. The MRC has documented all of it; over the next eight installments, NewsBusters will be publishing the evidence.

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Today’s installment: journalists celebrating Hillary as the “successful,” “remarkable,” “fabulous,” “sexy” and “pious” “icon of American womanhood.” Links to the rest of the report below.

■ “Friends of Hillary Clinton would have you believe she’s an amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes....Fortunately, Hillary Clinton, the latest wife to be challenged to fit perfectly into the ill-defined role of political spouse, is more interesting than that.”
— Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Margaret Carlson writing in the January 27, 1992 edition of Time magazine.

■ “You might think Hillary Clinton was running for President. Granted, she is a remarkable woman. The first student commencement speaker at Wellesley, part of the first large wave of women to go to law school, a prominent partner in a major law firm, rated one of the top 100 lawyers in the country — there is no doubt that she is her husband’s professional and intellectual equal. But is this reason to turn her into ‘Willary Horton’ for the ’92 campaign, making her an emblem of all that is wrong with family values, working mothers, and modern women in general?”
— Beginning of Time cover story by Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Margaret Carlson, September 14, 1992 issue.

■ “It hasn’t been easy being the Woman in this Year of the Woman, everybody’s favorite target for all that’s dangerous about being independent, smart, impatient, articulate, out-spoken, ambitious — and while she’s at it, a three-fer: wife, mother, and successful corporate lawyer. By any standard, Hillary Clinton has been a handful for America to deal with.”
Washington Post reporter Donnie Radcliffe, October 30, 1992.

■ “In six speeches and rallies in Denver and Atlanta observed over two days, the woman whom Republicans tried to smear as a cookie-hating Lady Macbeth is being greeted more like an Eleanor Roosevelt. Like Roosevelt, she has overcome criticism from those who resent her independence, earning widespread affection and respect for doing just that.”
Chicago Tribune reporter Jessica Seigel, October 20, 1992.

■ “H.R. Clinton: Feminaut explores gender cosmos. The most fabulous woman in U.S. history?!?!”
Newsweek’s “Conventional Wisdom Watch” awarding Hillary Clinton with an “Up” arrow for her debut as First Lady, February 15, 1993.

■ “As the icon of American womanhood, she is the medium through which the remaining anxieties over feminism are being played out....Perhaps in addition to the other items on her agenda, Hillary Rodham Clinton will define for women that magical spot where the important work of the world and love and children and an inner life all come together. Like Ginger Rogers, she will do everything her partner does, only backward and in high heels, and with what was missing in [Lee] Atwater — a lot of heart.”
Time White House correspondent Margaret Carlson, May 10, 1993.

■ “She’s ecumenical but prefers Italian and Mexican. The President fixes her eggs with jalapeno peppers on the weekends. One Christmas she served black beans and chili as part of a buffet. She carries Tabasco sauce wherever she goes....Valentine’s Day at the Red Sage restaurant. Even at a romantic outing, the President can be the date from hell, talking to everyone but the girl he brung....Finally alone, they have ‘painted soup’ and the lamb baked in herbed bread. They exchange gifts and touch each other more in two hours than the Bushes did in four years.”
— Margaret Carlson writing about Clinton in the June 1993 issue of Vanity Fair.

■ “I saw a Hillary Clinton that I’d never seen before. She was funny, charming, sexy — yes, gang, sexy. We are both Scorpios, which tells you a lot. She’s informal — called me ‘Larry’ and told me to call her by her first name...Meanwhile, she’s earned the respect of everyone (except the wackos) with her handling of the health care issue. Indeed, she has gotten everyone (except the wackos) to agree that we need health care for everyone. This is a very formidable idea, ladies and gentlemen.”
— CNN/Mutual Broadcasting talk show host Larry King in his October 4, 1993 USA Today column, writing about his interview with the First Lady two days earlier.

■ “Hillary Rodham Clinton is as pious as she is political. Methodism, for her, is not just a church but an extended family of faith that defines her horizons...If the Kennedy era was Camelot and the Reagan White House a ranchero on the Potomac, the Clinton presidency — in the figure of its formidable First Lady — is Washington’s Methodist Moment.”
Newsweek reporter Kenneth L. Woodward, October 31, 1994.

■ “We are in the middle of a primal American saga and the important part is yet to come. Bill Clinton may be merely the prequel, the President of lesser moment except, so to speak, as the horse she rode in on....I think I see a sort of Celtic mist forming around Hillary as a new archetype (somewhere between Eleanor and Evita, transcending both) at a moment when the civilization pivots, at last, decisively perhaps for the first time since the advent of Christian patriarchy two millenniums ago toward Woman.”
Time’s Lance Morrow in a July 12, 1999 “Viewpoint” piece.

■ “It was hard in the summer of 1992 for a young woman to stay objective and not become enchanted by the promise of Hillary. I had spent my formative professional years undercover in the dark age of Reagan-Bush. Those were the days when women were not allowed to wear pants in the White House. Anita Hill had just been whomped. Anti-abortion judges were packing the Supreme Court. And here was a woman who had kept her own name!”
— Former Time reporter Nina Burleigh, who in 1998 said she would give Bill Clinton oral sex for keeping abortion legal, in the February 14, 2000 New York Observer.

Links to other installments:

Part Two: Journalists Cast Hillary as a Feminist Champion, Battling Sexist America
Part Three: Hating Hillary’s Enemies in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
Part Four: Journalists Saluting Hillary’s 'Dazzling Political Mastery'
Part Five: TV Reporters’ Top 10 Softball Questions for Hillary
Part Six: Journalists Help Hillary Overcome Her Many Scandals
Part Seven: Journalists Lead the Cheers for Hillary for President
Part Eight: Hollywood Celebrities Shake Their Pom-Poms for Hillary

 

Tell the Truth 2016

Research Tell the Truth 2016 2016 Presidential Feminism Time Newsweek USA Today Washington Post MediaBuzz History Larry King Margaret Carlson Nina Burleigh Hillary Clinton

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