By Dave Andrusko
Before I talk about a different story that appeared in the Hill newspaper yesterday, let me quote from a story in the same publication by Alexander Bolton that ran today:
Democratic senators, anxious over Hillary Clinton’s inability to pull away from Donald Trump, have some advice for their nominee: Be more open, show your soul, focus on the economy and talk about blue-collar jobs.
Recent polls show Trump within striking distance of Clinton in the presidential election, defying predictions in Washington that he is doomed in November.
The Republican nominee’s ability to stay competitive while running an unconventional campaign has underscored what Democratic lawmakers see as the need for Clinton to improve in certain areas.
These lawmakers, who served with Clinton in Congress and have known her for years, say her public persona is too guarded.
They struggle to reconcile the charismatic, warm and funny woman they know in private with Clinton’s public persona, which can come across as stern, aloof or annoyed.
Well, that “charismatic, warm and funny” woman was not on display yesterday when she gave a brief, brief news conference in which she sternly lectured reporters about what they could and could not investigate about her and what they should (for sure) critique about Donald Trump.
I only saw a little bit of the 15-minute long press conference (which was conducted on a tarmac), so I’m relying on “Five takeaways from Clinton’s press conference,” by Jonathan Easley and Jonathan Swan.
By the way, takeaway #3 is that reporters musn’t ask about the email scandal or the growing scandal over the intersection of her job as Secretary of State and the (considerable) fortunes of the Clinton Foundation. This is not the least bit surprising, given the other four takeaways, and given that she bullied/cowed them into submission. (She and her campaign are rolling out the heavy artillery: criticism/coverage is evidence of the dreaded charge of “sexism.” See below.)
For example, for a few crumbs of access, “there are strings attached.” Such as don’t you dare cover rumors about her health and why aren’t they hammering NBC “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer, who, in fact, has been crushed for not being “tough enough” on Trump.
And, of course, the coverage should be about Trump. “The chief reason Clinton held the press conference was because she wanted to bash Trump’s temperament before a nationally televised audience,” Easley and Swan report.
Clinton is unliked and considered untrustworthy, so the conversation ought to be about “Trump and his temperament — rather than a debate about her own shortcomings, particularly perceptions about her honesty and trustworthiness.” Like ducklings, reporters at the prestige media outlets have spent the last two days following Clinton’s lead in eviscerating Trump.
The 5th takeaway is the most transparent. Easley and Swan tell us
Political watchers fully expected Clinton to embrace the historic nature of being the first woman to be a major party’s nominee.
She’s done that to an extent, and on Thursday expressed common cause with a top female journalist, MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell.
“I love you, Andrea, you’re indefatigable, you’re my kind of a woman,” Clinton said.
But Clinton also passed on a moment where she could have blasted her critics as sexist.
Of course, her campaign didn’t “pass on a moment” nor did her legion of supporters in the media and on blogs.
The closer the race gets (see “End of the week look at the tightening presidential polls”), the more Clinton and her campaign will lecture the media that any focus on her considerable shortcomings and laundry list of investigations is ipso facto proof of sexism.
Charges of sexism–the last refuge of a floundering feminist pro-abortion candidate.