Until Chris Hayes stepped in: Last Thursday night, Bill Clinton was saying some very nice things about Barack Obama.
Granted, some politics was maybe perhaps involved. For one thing, former president Clinton was speaking on behalf of Candidate Clinton, who, as you know, is his wife.
That said, Bill Clinton, speaking in Memphis, was explaining a basic problem President Obama has faced. He said Obama deserved more credit than he sometimes gets because of this particular problem.
As Clinton made these nice remarks, the crowd applauded--a lot. You can watch the tape here:
BILL CLINTON (2/11/16): She’s always making something good happen. She’s the best change maker I’ve ever known.Ever since the end of his second year, Obama has had to battle a Republican Congress who won't work with him, Clinton said. He then ridiculed "voices in our party" who say Obama lost the Congress because he wasn't liberal enough.
A lot of people say, "Oh well, you don’t understand. It’s different now. It’s rigged." Yeah, it’s rigged—because you don’t have a president who is a change maker who, with a Congress who will work with him. But the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for. And don’t you forget it!
Don’t you forget it! Don’t you forget it!
Look. Don't you forget it.
Let me just tell you. I’ve been there, and we shared the same gift. We only had a Democratic Congress for two years. And then we lost it.
There's some of the loudest voices in our party say, it’s unbelievable, say, “Well the only reason we had it for two years is that President Obama wasn’t liberal enough!”
Is there one soul in this crowd that believes that?
AUDIENCE: No. No.
There was a certain political tilt to the former president's remarks. That said, he was saying nice things about Obama—until Chris Hayes stepped in.
Right at the start of last Friday night's All In, Hayes played tape of Clinton's remarks. But he did one of those hideous mid-sentence "edits," making it look like Clinton had actually been dissing Obama!
Good grief! As he started his show, Hayes noted that Hillary Clinton has been criticizing Candidate Sanders for being critical of Obama in the past. He then said that Bill Clinton had gone off-message—and he doctored the Memphis videotape like this:
HAYES (2/12/16): Now if that's Clinton's strategy, she might want to make sure her husband is in the loop. Bill seemed to go a bit off message last night in Tennessee, while campaigning for his wife.Full stop! Hayes cut the videotape of Bill Clinton right there. He made a face about what Clinton had said, then moved to a different topic.
BILL CLINTON (videotape): She’s always making something good happen. She’s the best change maker I’ve ever known.
A lot of people say, "Oh well, you don’t understand. It’s different now. It’s rigged." Yeah, it’s rigged—because you don’t have a president who is a change maker.
That's one of the worst edits we've ever seen. Just watching the tape of Hayes' show, as you can do here, it's obvious that Clinton has been cut off in mid-sentence. And uh-oh! The edit completely changed the meaning of what he said.
It's a type of dead-stop, mid-sentence edit that used to be fairly common on the Maddow Show, though only to distort the things that Republicans said. In fairness, though, the Maddow Show doesn't seem to feature this type of edit any more.
(Olbermann used to edit BillO this way. It was all for the good of the team!)
Over at Mediaite, Tommy Christopher did the original critique of this presentation by Hayes. His judgment? "This is an edit so egregious, it rivals the worst in dishonest political ads, and surpasses them."
Christopher goes on to say this: "I have nothing but affection and respect for Chris Hayes, so I’m happy to assume that this was the work of some overly-zealous producer and Hayes was too busy to check it."
Everything is possible! It will be interesting to see if some sort of correction is offered tonight. That said, there's no excuse for "failing to check" an edit like that, especially if you plan to open your program with it.
Unfortunately, Hayes has sometimes displayed a tin ear for this sort of thing. In the immediate wake of Benghazi, he quickly threw Susan Rice under the bus in line with GOP propaganda. One week later, he had to take back the things he had said.
Last summer, he oohed and aahed about the "bombshell" the New York Times had delivered through its ginormous news report about the "scary uranium deal."
In our view, that report may have been the most ludicrous bit of hard-right agitprop the Times chose to run with all year. To the tin ear of Brother Hayes, it seemed like a bombshell.
Last Friday night, he did it again! Christopher might consider the wisdom of The Original and Great Carter Family, who famously lamented a certain type of disappointment and self-delusion:
"I woke from my dreams, my idol was clay.
All portions of love had all flown away."
Who knows? Maybe it was just bad staff work! We'll see what gets said tonight.