Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thank you, Ma'am. May we have another?

The New Republic examines Hillary Clinton's love-hate relationship with the media. To put it briefly, the media does the loving, and Hillary does the hating:

Reporters who have covered the hyper-vigilant campaign say that no detail or editorial spin is too minor to draw a rebuke. Even seasoned political journalists describe reporting on Hillary as a torturous experience. Though few dare offer specifics for the record--"They're too smart," one furtively confides. "They'll figure out who I am"--privately, they recount excruciating battles to secure basic facts. Innocent queries are met with deep suspicion. Only surgically precise questioning yields relevant answers. Hillary's aides don't hesitate to use access as a blunt instrument, as when they killed off a negative GQ story on the campaign by threatening to stop cooperating with a separate Bill Clinton story the magazine had in the works. Reporters' jabs and errors are long remembered, and no hour is too odd for an angry phone call. Clinton aides are especially swift to bypass reporters and complain to top editors. "They're frightening!" says one reporter who has covered Clinton. "They don't see [reporting] as a healthy part of the process. They view this as a ruthless kill-or-be-killed game."

Despite all the grumbling, however, the press has showered Hillary with strikingly positive coverage. "It's one of the few times I've seen journalists respect someone for beating the hell out of them," says a veteran Democratic media operative. The media has paved a smooth road for signature campaign moments like Hillary's campaign launch and her health care plan rollout and has dutifully advanced campaign-promoted themes like Hillary's "experience" and expertise in military affairs.

Charlie Sykes suggests, somewhat facetiously, that this is an example of Stockholm Syndrome. Looking deeper, though, Michael Crowley raises an excellent point a little later in the article:

It's enough to make you suspect that breeding fear and paranoia within the press corps is itself part of the Clinton campaign's strategy. And, if that sounds familiar, it may be because the Clinton machine, say reporters and pro-Hillary Democrats, is emulating nothing less than the model of the Bush White House, which has treated the press with thinly veiled contempt and minimal cooperation. "The Bush administration changed the rules," as one scribe puts it--and the Clintonites like the way they look.

To say that the media has not rewarded the Bush administration's treatment of reporters with favorable coverage would have to merit one consideration for understatement of the year, if not decade. So this naturally raises the question: Why is the media bending over for Hillary?

TNR being TNR, the article doesn't even bother to try to answer the question (though given TNR's readership, Crowley may have assumed the answer to be a given).

For the rest of us, it should give some inkling of just how badly the mainstream media wants a Democrat in the White House--with Hillary the Inevitable (TM) being their first choice.


No comments: