Debate moderators allowed Giuliani to misrepresent Clinton statement on free markets

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

During the October 9 Republican presidential debate, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and CNBC's Maria Bartitomo did not challenge Rudy Giuliani's claim that Sen. Hillary Clinton "once said that the unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America." In fact, in a 1996 interview, Clinton said she agreed with the quote, "The unfettered free market has been the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation."

During the Republican presidential candidates debate on October 9, the debate moderators -- MSNBC host Chris Matthews and CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo -- did not challenge former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani after he repeated his claim that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "once said that the unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America." In fact, in a 1996 C-SPAN interview, Clinton agreed with author Aren Ehrenhalt's characterization of the "unfettered free market" as "the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation" -- not the "most destructive." Clinton went on to say that the "market is the driving force behind our prosperity" but that it "cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives."

As Media Matters for America previously noted, Giuliani made a similar claim during the May 15 Republican presidential debate -- that Clinton said she "agreed" that "the unfettered free market is the most disastrous thing in modern America" -- and several media outlets uncritically reported his misquotation. Additionally, in an August 13 CNBC interview, Kudlow & Co. host Larry Kudlow did not challenge Giuliani's assertion that Clinton "agreed with the statement, 'The unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America.' ... That's got to tell you her ideology, right? She agreed with that statement a few years ago."

From Clinton's March 3, 1996, interview on C-SPAN's Booknotes:

BRIAN LAMB (host): There's a quote here. I want to ask you if you agree with this. This is from Alan Ehrenhalt, author of "The Lost City" -- you put it in your book. "The unfettered free market has been the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation."

CLINTON: I believe that. That's why I put it in the book. I think if you look at the argument we've had in our political life in the last several years, it's been a false debate. We've pitted the government against everything else. Well, I don't believe the government has had as big an impact as commercial television, as a lot of the decisions made in the marketplace about how we're going to pay and compensate people, about downsizing corporations and making workers more insecure. And I just believe that there's got to be a healthy tension among all of our institutions in society, and that the market is the driving force behind our prosperity, our freedom in so many respects to make our lives our own but that it cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives as well.

From CNBC's coverage of the October 9 Republican presidential debate:

MATTHEWS: Mayor Giuliani, the private equity firms are making billions of dollars. I guess it's a mystery to me, and you could explain this to a New Yorker -- where do these billions of dollars come from? Where were they before? And is there any downside to this amazing bonanza in the hedge fund and the private equity firms?

GIULIANI: Well, I mean, the market is a wonderful thing. I mean, the free market is our -- one of our greatest assets. The leading Democratic candidate once said that the unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America. I mean, just get an idea of where that philosophy comes from. The free market is the asset that has allowed us to -- the sky's the limit. The reality is that what we have to do is look at the fundamentals. A president can't be a economic forecaster. The president's not going to be any better an economic forecaster than you are a baseball forecaster. And I'm not a particularly good baseball forecaster this afternoon. So, the reality is, the president has to work on the fundamentals. What are the fundamentals? Keep taxes low, keep regulations moderate, keep spending under control. That's an area where we need a lot of help. And, make sure you do something about legal reform so that our legal system doesn't -- it's 2.2 percent of our GDP [gross domestic product] now is spent on all these frivolous lawsuits. It's double any other industrialized nation. If we don't get control of that, that's another way in which we're going to eat up our future. So, we've got a prospect on the Democratic side of overspending, overtaxing, over-regulating, and over-suing. And I think you need a Republican alternative to that, which is an emphasis on the pillars of growth that I mentioned.

MATTHEWS: Just to test your forecasting ability, Mr. Mayor, will [New York Yankees manager Joe] Torre keep his job?

GIULIANI: God willing. Joe Torre is the best manager in the history of the Yankees, at least in the modern era, so -- and he's my friend.

Posted In
Economy, Trade
Network/Outlet
CNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Stories/Interests
Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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