Media figures claimed Clinton's emotional moment in NH was "pretend[]," not "genuine"

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Discussing a recent campaign event during which Sen. Hillary Clinton's voice broke while answering a question from the audience, several media figures have baselessly claimed that Clinton's actions were not "genuine" or were "pretend[]," including Glenn Beck, who said of the incident, "Hillary Clinton isn't just running for president, but she's also making a run for the best actress nomination." Michelle Malkin wrote that "[a]nyone who believes Hillary spontaneously teared up and got emotional on the campaign trail has been in a coma the last three decades."

While discussing a recent campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) voice broke as she talked about why she is seeking the presidency, several media figures have baselessly claimed that Clinton's actions were not "genuine" or were "pretend[]." For example, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck said of the incident, "Hillary Clinton isn't just running for president, but she's also making a run for the best actress nomination," while New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, in her January 9 column, quoted an anonymous Times reporter's assertion: "That crying really seemed genuine. I'll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand." Further, right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin wrote: "Anyone who believes Hillary spontaneously teared up and got emotional on the campaign trail has been in a coma the last three decades."

As Media Matters for America documented, Weekly Standard editor and New York Times columnist William Kristol similarly claimed on Fox News that "[s]he pretended to cry, the women liked it," adding, "The women were sorry for her, and she won." Other media figures have also accused Clinton of insincerity in the incident, invoking a common characterization in the media of Clinton as calculating.

During the January 8 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, Beck opened the program by asserting that the "[b]ig news from New Hampshire tonight is: It cries." During his recurring "The Point" segment, Beck asserted:

BECK: I don't buy the hype of the tears. I don't think you should, either. Apparently, Hillary Clinton isn't just running for president, but she's also making a run for the best actress nomination. And here's how I got there.

Believe me, I know what it's like to get caught off guard and break down occasionally. I mean, I cry on this freaking show like every 10 minutes, so don't get me wrong here. I get it. And I appreciate somebody who can cry. But I'm a big sissy in a purple shirt, and I'm not running for the leader of the free world. You know what I'm saying?

After airing a clip of Clinton saying, "You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards," Beck said, "Is it just me? Maybe because I just don't buy any of her bullcrap anyway." Later in the segment, Beck added:

BECK: Hillary, we see what's happening here. You're losing, and this is some sort of bizarre, last-ditch strategy to ingratiate you with women, maybe? Or make you seem less like the Terminator? I mean, I've -- I wouldn't put it past you to have your eye fall out and this little red light coming out of your eye socket. I'm just saying.

For those -- for those of you who thought those tears were for our country, I think you're mistaken there. Maybe, I think, if the tears were real, they were just because of the grind that she is under right now.

In her Times column, Dowd wrote: "When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes." Dowd added that one "reporter joked: 'That crying really seemed genuine. I'll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand.' He added dryly: 'Crying doesn't usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships.' "

In her January 9 syndicated column, Malkin wrote of the incident: "So long, feminist hero. Hello, weeping willow. Anyone who believes Hillary spontaneously teared up and got emotional on the campaign trail has been in a coma the last three decades." Malkin later added that Clinton "can't tolerate someone else out-politically-correct-ing her. This was supposed to be her year. Her triumph. Her her-story. Maybe a few of those tears welling up in her eyes were real after all. Expect more as this contested race -- a race she thought would be a cakewalk -- continues."

From the January 8 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Well, hello, America. Big news from New Hampshire tonight is: It cries.

After spending decades stripping away all trace of emotion, femininity, and humanity, Hillary Clinton actually broke down and actually cried yesterday on the campaign trail. So, I guess, here's "The Point" tonight.

I don't buy the hype of the tears. I don't think you should, either. Apparently, Hillary Clinton isn't just running for president, but she's also making a run for the best actress nomination. And here's how I got there.

Believe me, I know what it's like to get caught off guard and break down occasionally. I mean, I cry on this freaking show like every 10 minutes, so don't get me wrong here. I get it. And I appreciate somebody who can cry. But I'm a big sissy in a purple shirt, and I'm not running for the leader of the free world. You know what I'm saying?

Let's a take minute here just to look at the Hillary episode where she was responding to the question, "How do you do it?"

CLINTON [video clip]: You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards.

BECK: Is it just me? Maybe because I just don't buy any of her bullcrap anyway. I just -- wow. You might want to go grab the tissue if you need one, because the waterworks is just beginning. The tough-as-nails attorney and political animal tried to choke back the tears and dig deep for the words, and she offered this.

CLINTON [video clip]: This is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening. And we have to reverse it.

BECK: OK, that part I was OK with. But then she went into, and you know, some people just aren't prepared. And it just seemed like more of the same old-same old.

Hillary, we see what's happening here. You're losing, and this is some sort of bizarre, last-ditch strategy to ingratiate you with women, maybe? Or make you seem less like the Terminator? I mean, I've -- I wouldn't put it past you to have your eye fall out and this little red light coming out of your eye socket. I'm just saying.

For those -- for those of you that thought those tears were for our country, I think you're mistaken there. Maybe, I think, if the tears were real, they were just because of the grind that she is under right now.

From Dowd's January 9 New York Times column:

When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes.

A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched it over and over, drawn to the "humanized" Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. "We are at war," he said. "Is this how she'll talk to [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il?"

Another reporter joked: "That crying really seemed genuine. I'll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand." He added dryly: "Crying doesn't usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships."

Bill Clinton was known for biting his lip, but here was Hillary doing the Muskie. Certainly it was impressive that she could choke up and stay on message.

She won her Senate seat after being embarrassed by a man. She pulled out New Hampshire and saved her presidential campaign after being embarrassed by another man. She was seen as so controlling when she ran for the Senate that she had to be seen as losing control, as she did during the Monica scandal, before she seemed soft enough to attract many New York voters.

From Malkin's January 9 syndicated column, as published in The New York Post:

Many will point to Hillary's watery-eyed performance at a Portsmouth rally on Monday as a watershed moment. Down in the polls and facing imminent defeat, the erstwhile anti-Tammy Wynette turned on the spigot and played damsel in distress: "It's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backward, you know?"

The steely voice -- infamous for uttering profanities at staffers, state troopers and her Secret Service detail, bellowing at the Bush administration and Rush Limbaugh, and imitating a fiery Southern drawl -- turned drippy: "You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political; it's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it." Insert heartfelt pauses and choke-ups as directed.

So long, feminist hero. Hello, weeping willow. Anyone who believes Hillary spontaneously teared up and got emotional on the campaign trail has been in a coma the last three decades.

Bill Clinton's diarrhea of the mouth didn't help. He flailed at reporters for putting his poor, poor wife at a "breathtaking disadvantage" (never mind the countless regal magazine covers of his wife and softball coverage over the years); lamented that he can't turn her into something "younger, taller, male," and whined that "the wealthier have more right to free speech than the rest of us" (never mind their $100 million war chest).

[...]

You can't fake a core. You can't fake charm. And you can't fake humility. Mannequin Hillary tried during the ABC News debate in New Hampshire over the weekend when questioned about her likeability. "Well, that hurts my feelings," she coyly purred in attempted mock self-effacement.

One problem: The Clintons are too steeped in the politics of self-entitlement to pull off credible self-effacement. Seated next to a rival who has stolen her liberal thunder and who might make history as the nation's first black president, Hillary couldn't help declaring: "I am an agent of change, I embody change. I think having the first woman president is a huge change."

She can't tolerate someone else out-politically-correct-ing her. This was supposed to be her year. Her triumph. Her her-story.

Maybe a few of those tears welling up in her eyes were real after all. Expect more as this contested race -- a race she thought would be a cakewalk -- continues.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, The New York Times, CNN
Person
William Kristol, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Maureen Dowd
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck Program
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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