Consider what Kasie Hunt said: Does the mainstream press corps actually work from a set of “Clinton rules”—rules which are unfair to Clinton and Clinton?
This past Monday at Vox, Jonathan Allen became the latest reporter to say that the press does play by such rules. We’ll probably discuss his piece next week—but in this post about Allen’s claim, Kevin Drum even named an apparent malefactor in this long-standing war!
When professional journalists start naming names, you know they’re getting serious.
Does the press corps really play by the so-called “Clinton Rules?” There’s no simple way to answer that question. But as an example of the way the press corps often portrays the Clintons, consider what Kasie Hunt said on The One True Channel this past Thursday night.
Who the heck is Kasie Hunt? She’s the youngish, perfectly competent “political correspondent” for MSNBC.
She went to high school on the Philly Main Line, graduating in 2003. Subsequently, she graduated from George Washington University and attained a master’s degree from The University of Cambridge—the one over there in England!
We’re going to guess that Hunt is not a secret hidden “right-winger.” We also assume that she’s completely well-intentioned in her work on the air.
For those reasons, we were struck by something she said on Thursday evening’s Hardball. To watch the whole segment, click here.
Blessedly, Steve Kornacki was serving as substitute host. Kornacki played tape of President Clinton and President Bush the Younger interacting nicely at several recent events.
During the discussion which followed, Kornacki asked Hunt if the harmony and good humor could possibly last.
Kornacki asked a reasonable if pointless question. Could this era of good feeling survive another Bush-Clinton race, should such a thing happen next year?
Kornacki asked a sensible question. The analysts screamed and writhed in pain when they heard Hunt’s reply:
KORNACKI (7/9/15): Kasie Hunt, let me just quickly ask to you play this out a little bit. If a year from now we’re talking about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and Jeb Bush, the Republican nominee, how much of this good will survives something like that?Hunt continued on from there. But good God! What a reply!
HUNT: I mean, Steve, you know as well as do I, and anyone else who’s watched the Clintons in public life, to know that they don’t exactly take hits lightly necessarily. They tend to have long memories.
So I think that if this campaign gets really nasty and goes to questions of character, then you know all bets might be off...
Kornacki wanted to know if the Bushes and the Clintons could still be friendly in the event of a Bush-Clinton race. Hunt’s answer came straight from the files which define The Clinton Rules.
You know how those Clintons are, the youngish scribe basically said.
“They don’t exactly take hits lightly,” she said. “They tend to have long memories.” Because of the way the Clintons are, if this campaign gets really nasty, then all bets may be off!
Good God! Where do we get these people?
Hunt worked straight from the press corps script in which the Clintons “will do and say anything to win.” This script was seamlessly transferred to Candidate Gore in 1999 and 2000 as the entire liberal world politely sat and watched.
It didn’t seem to have entered Hunt’s head that the Bushes have a bit of a history in the general realm of playing to win, nasty character attack-wise.
Willie Horton disappeared from view in Hunt’s reply. So did Candidate McCain’s alleged black child in the South Carolina primary during Campaign 2000.
Candidate Kerry was never Swift-boated. In 1992, President Bush didn’t raise suspicions about Candidate Clinton’s visit to the Soviet Union as a Rhodes Scholar in 1969, when he was over in England.
The unlawful rifling of Candidate Clinton’s passport files also didn’t occur. The once-famous voter purge in Florida? It no longer existed.
We’re not suggesting that Hunt was deliberately voicing the kind of script which animates The Clinton Rules. But these scripts are so ubiquitous that youngish reporters, no matter how fresh-faced and telegenic, will often blurt them out without so much as a thought.
We’ll probably look at Allen’s piece on The Clinton Rules next week. But the relevant scripts are everywhere, and they’re deeply destructive.
Also, this prime talking-point: By Friday morning, the analysts had begun to recover from Hunt’s unfortunate construct.
But then, dear God, it happened again! The fresh-faced and youngish Michael Barbaro churned a famous old talking-point in the New York Times.
What if Il Duce Trumpolini decides to run a third-party campaign? Just like that, we were hearing the famous old piddle concerning Ross Perot:
BARBARO (7/10/15): [A]ny top-down campaign by Republicans to marginalize Mr. Trump might encourage him to follow through with a threat to run on a third-party ballot, a scenario reminiscent of Ross Perot's 1992 campaign, which diverted crucial votes from President George Bush. Many in the party still blame Mr. Perot, who won 19 percent of the vote, for Mr. Bush's defeat to Bill Clinton.Did Candidate Perot divert precious votes from President Bush in the 1992 election?
''Perot's intensely nationalist and protectionist politics resonated with a lot of center-right voters that otherwise would have voted Republican,'' said Dan Senor, a former Bush administration official who advised Mr. Romney's campaign. ''And the environment today is even more intensely populist. If Trump were to run as an independent, who knows what impact he could have in what will otherwise be a close election?”
More to the point, did Perot cost Bush that election? Is that how Clinton reached the White House?
Everything is always possible, of course. But the most basic information we have says that claim is bunk.
Republicans have always pushed the claim that Perot cost Bush the election. Fresh-faced young scribes may be inclined to throw it in print.
That said, the exit polls in 1992 paint a different picture. In those exit polls, Perot voters split right down the middle as to who they would have supported, Clinton or Bush, had Perot not been in the race.
Those exits pols are the only hard evidence we have on this tired old question. They strongly suggest that Candidate Perot did not cost President Bush the race, certainly not in the way Senor describes.
According to the exit polls, Clinton lost as many precious votes to Ross Perot as Bush did. Still and all, the GOP never misses the chance to tell that other story.
Perhaps in thrall to the Clinton rules, fresh-faced scribes at the New York Times tend to just type her right up!