Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” reads like a therapy session in which the losing presidential candidate works through the five stages of grief in real time.
There’s plenty of anger, oodles of denial, bouts of depression, some desperate bargaining and finally a modicum of acceptance. But not before she’s thrown everyone from President Obama to Bernie Sanders under the bus for her loss to Donald Trump.
Among her many laments? “I don’t think the press did their job,” as she tells Vox’s Ezra Klein.
Expanding on that, she told him the press obsessed over Trump because she was talking policy while he was “good TV,” and the decision was “let’s cover the other guy ‘cause he’s a lot more fun.”
Further, she insists, the left doesn’t “control the media environment the same way the right does, it’s harder for our message to get out.”
There’s more, but before we go any further, this deserves some serious unpacking — because what she’s saying is patently absurd. It makes me wonder in what country, or even on what planet, she was running for President.
First, let’s take that part about the press not doing its job. For the past nearly 30 years, the media has obsessed over the Clintons. For worse, certainly, but also very much for better, the press has covered Bill and Hillary like they were royalty.
Both took on a revered status despite years of ugly scandals and questionable moral judgment. For years he has been portrayed flatteringly on magazine covers like GQ, Vanity Fair and Esquire, where a representatively glowing 2012 headline read “Bill Clinton and 78 Other Things We Can Agree On.”
Likewise, even despite right-wing media’s incessant pounding, Hillary Clinton was America’s “most admired woman” a record 20 times, according to Gallup polling, thanks in no small part to magazines like Time putting her on their cover countless times with fawning headlines like “The Ascent of a Woman,” “Hillary Clinton and the Rise of Smart Power,” “The Fighter,” and the now laughable “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?”
Perhaps second only to Barack Obama, few politicians have benefited from the positive attention — and defense — of the press like Hillary Clinton.
What she objected to, maybe, is that in the 2016 election cycle, many in the press actually started to do their jobs . . . for the first time. She still had plenty of defenders, but instead of crying sexism on her behalf at every turn, most in usually friendly media circles thought that rang hollow this go-around.
Instead of brushing off her email scandal as part of that vast right-wing conspiracy, the consensus was — even in the New York Times and on MSNBC — this was a very bad mistake. And when she cut off access, refused to do press conferences and put reporters covering her behind moving rope lines, the love fest was over. What she considered a dereliction of duty was really just the fair scrutiny that comes with running for the highest office in the land.
She obviously also believes that the press, in spending an admittedly inordinate time covering Trump’s every impolitic utterance, was favoring him somehow. But while the media was newly woke to Clinton’s flawed candidacy, it was also still, by and large, aghast at Trump’s.
What seems obvious to everyone but Clinton is that the media wasn’t over-covering Trump “ ‘cause he’s a lot more fun,” but because it assumed the more he was exposed, the more voters would run the other way.
That presumption was indeed a failure of the mainstream media. But not the one she’s talking about.
Finally, Clinton’s assertion that the left doesn’t “control the media environment the way the right does” is bordering on delusional. The most powerful microphones — the Obama White House, Hollywood and liberal media stalwarts at the major networks and newspapers — were all backing Hillary or Bernie, not Trump. Trump, by contrast, had his Twitter account, Fox News and assorted internet outlets (and Russian fake news) in his corner.
To put a final punctuation on Clinton’s hysterical blindness over the media, she also complains to Vox: “When you get 32 minutes in a whole year to cover all policy, how does that work?”
It isn’t the media’s job to tell voters what should matter to them. That’s the candidate’s job. Trump just did it better.
Contact Cupp at thesecupp.com.
This column first appeared in the New York Daily News.
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