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Hillary And The Media, Cont'd


I think the Hillary camp's gripe that they've drawn harsher coverage than the other candidates may be true, at least as it applies to the past few weeks. But that also comes after a long stretch where Hillary could do no wrong in the eyes of the press. And each narrative sets up its own counter-narrative. So, after Hillary was made out to be a flawless candidate, the idea that her campaign was in turmoil was just too counterintuitively delicious for reporters to pass up.

Incidentally this also applies to coverage of Bill, which has gone south in fairly surprising fashion. For a couple of years now the media could only gush about Bill's magic touch. But that story got boring, and now reporters only seem interested in the opposite one--that he's a walking disaster who makes a gaffe every time he speaks. I watched Bill's entire Charlie Rose interview and didn't think it was a quarter as chaotic as the summaries made it out to be. Some people said that Bill's face reddened and his hands shook; I didn't see that. And it's true that Bill's staff began pressing Rose to wrap up the interview. But isn't it possible--likely, even--that in the thick of a campaign they simply had a schedule to keep? Finally, MSNBC devoted a long segment this morning to what a train wreck Bill was during that Des Moines supermarket stop with Hillary. His crime seemed to be lingering to talk to reporters a bit. It's funny, sure. But I don't see evidence of real political harm--except insofar as Bill's playing into a story the press wants to tell about him for some reason.

For what it's worth, Hillary has largely owned the last news cycle or two. I'm not sure what Magic Johnson can really tell us about who should run the country. But the combination of Hillary, Bill, a giant black man and a helicopter was absolute catnip for TV and newspapers this past weekend. Whereas Obama had a very low media presence.

P.S. I suppose I'm glad Howie Kurtz quoted my Obama story from October--but I found myself cringing at the split infinitive. Apologies to the purists out there.

--Michael Crowley