Reacting this week to the news that NBC had announced it's going to produce a four-hour, primetime miniseries dramatizing the political life of Hillary Clinton, Rush Limbaugh dismissed the simmering controversy surrounding the programming decision. Announcing that he was bored of talking about the Clintons, Limbaugh then spent a good chunk of his first hour on Monday's show discussing the Clintons.
Limbaugh insisted the former First Couple amuse him and he mocked the premise of the NBC miniseries; that there's widespread interest in Hillary's life story. The talker insisted that outside of Democratic circles the Clintons are viewed as "jokes."
Indeed, the NBC press release unleashed all kinds of bitter right-wing commentary about Hillary Clinton and the alleged biases that will be in play in the production. (How dare NBC cast a beautiful actress, Diane Lane, to portray Hillary??) The attacks were laced with angry demands that as part of the miniseries, NBC devote all kinds of time exploring the numerous "scandals" that have allegedly plagued Hillary's career, and especially the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outposts in Benghazi.
Based on 11 months worth of robotic and increasingly fantastic allegations about Benghazi, the Fox crew seems to actually believe that Clinton was part of a nefarious White House plot to let Americans die last September in an effort to secure President's Obama's re-election.
There are any number of ethical questions raised by NBC Entertainment producing a miniseries while NBC News continues to cover the production's topic. None of those questions have to do with whether the final product fails to cover "Cattle Futures-gate."
The indignant denunciations of NBC illustrate just how detached from reality the conservative press has become in terms of how it views Hillary Clinton, and the assumptions conservatives make about her image in America and around the world. (i.e. She's a joke.) Lashing out at NBC, one right-wing blogger claimed the network was "delusional" to think anyone cares about Hillary's life story.
The right-wing media have invested years (decades?) trying to define Hillary Clinton in the most ugly and mean-spirited way possible, and don't seem to understand the futility of their ways.
Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others really have dedicated incalculable hours trying to permanently brand the former First Lady as an angry, power-hungry hag whose political career has been a colossal failure. And with the allegation of a Benghazi "cover-up," they've tried to portray the former Secretary of State as having American blood on her hands.
That's the caricature of Hillary that the right wing holds near and dear and tries desperately to pretend that everyone else does, too. But the announcement from NBC suggests that portrait of Hillary as a political monster is not widely shared.
The programming decision to make the series, whatever the final product looks like (and certainly similar past productions have come in for widespread criticism), implies that Hillary's fame and stature transcends politics. Rather than seen as a shrew, Hillary is viewed as a figure compelling enough to attract the interest of a major TV audience.
In other words, conservatives are losing control of Hillary's image and with the NBC miniseries they fear losing even more. Outside of the radical confines of Fox News and other right-wing hot spots where she's universally viewed negatively, Clinton enjoys widespread respect. And as speculation mounts about Clinton's presidential aspirations for 2016, that failure to define her is only going to fuel even more resentment.
We certainly got a peek of that this week.
Actually, we've been getting a preview of that resentment for months now. Recall the behavior of the Clinton Crazies late last year when the State Department announced Hillary had suffered a concussion after becoming ill and fainting. The health scare was greeted with open guffaws on Fox News and elsewhere as her dedicated foes laughed it up about how the Secretary of State had faked her concussion in order to get out of testifying before Congress about Benghazi. (Who does that?!)
Here was the parody produced by Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard, making fun of Clinton's concussion:
Weeks later when doctors revealed they had found a potentially life-threatening blood clot in Hillary brain, the right-wing laughter died down a bit. Nonetheless, the sorry episode revealed not only a lack of common decency, but also the warped prism through which the conservative press views Clinton - as a national punch line.
So of course her obsessed critics objected to the NBC announcement. Via the American Thinker blog [emphasis added]:
In "Unfaithful," Diane Lane played an adulterous wife whose jealous husband, Richard Gere, bludgeoned her lover Olivier Martinez to death with a snow globe, which is what many Americans feel like doing to themselves when Chillary Hillary starts talking.
See? "Many Americans" want to kill themselves when the former First Lady starts talking.
In truth, according to recent polling data, Hillary Clinton remains among the most popular political figures in the country. And when pitted against prominent Republicans in hypothetical presidential match-ups for 2016, Clinton wins easily.
That's likely among the reasons NBC green-lighted the Hillary movie: She remains a political and cultural star, and one who is possibly still ascending to new, historic heights.
And that's likely why her critics are so upset this week.