Brokaw misquoted and misrepresented Bill Clinton remark he described as "pretty provocative"

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI, MATT GERTZ & LAUREN AUERBACH

Misquoting and misrepresenting what he described as a "pretty provocative" remark by former President Bill Clinton, Tom Brokaw claimed that Clinton said, "[Y]ou've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X, you agree with everything that he stands for, but you have some real doubts about his experience. Candidate Y only believes in half the things but you really trust his experience -- who you gonna vote for?" But Clinton did not raise the issue of "experience" in his remarks, and Brokaw did not mention -- as he did when discussing Clinton's remarks earlier on MSNBC Live -- that Clinton said the hypothetical he described "has nothing to do with what's going on now."

On the August 26 edition of MSNBC Live, Tom Brokaw misquoted and misrepresented what he described as a "pretty provocative" remark by former President Bill Clinton. Referring to comments Clinton made earlier that day at a National Democratic Institute for International Affairs forum for former world leaders, Brokaw asserted: "He said, '[Y]ou've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X, you agree with everything that he stands for, but you have some real doubts about his experience. Candidate Y only believes in half the things but you really trust his experience -- who you gonna vote for?' I mean, that's what he said in Denver." Brokaw then said, "That's pretty provocative," suggesting that Clinton had been talking about the current presidential race. In fact, Clinton did not raise the issue of "experience" in his remarks. Moreover, Brokaw did not mention -- as he did when discussing Clinton's remarks earlier on MSNBC Live -- that Clinton said the hypothetical he described "has nothing to do with what's going on now."

At the August 26 forum, titled "Ensuring Democracy Delivers Real Dividends: A Perspective from Former Presidents and Prime Ministers," Clinton said:

CLINTON: Whether a government can actually deliver becomes quite important. It becomes, in a way, the question. Suppose, for example, you're a voter, And you've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don't think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues, but you believe that on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom will you vote? This is the kind of question that I predict -- and this has nothing to do with what's going on now -- but I'm just saying, if you look five, 10, 15 years from now, you may actually see this delivery issue become a serious issue in Democratic debates, because it is so hard to figure out how to turn our good intentions into real changes in the lives of the people we represent. Therefore -- and this is a really good panel, I think this is a subject that -- it may be starting on this stage, but I would like to see debated in a consistent way on every continent across all major issues for the next 10 years. When I set up my foundation when I left the White House, and then we started the Clinton Global Initiative, along with the U.N., I had a very simple idea: I wanted to help people turn good intentions into positive changes.

While discussing Clinton's comments during an interview with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell earlier in the 4 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live, Brokaw stated: "Now, in fairness, he went on to say -- perhaps mindful of how his off-the-cuff remarks might have been taken, this has nothing to do with what's going on now." But Brokaw ignored the remainder of Clinton's statement and concluded: "It's pretty hard to believe it doesn't have anything to do with what's going on now."

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the August 26 edition of MSNBC Live:

BROKAW: Republicans are pointing not just to Hillary Clinton but also to her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Here's what he had to say today in Denver. "Suppose you're a voter and you've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don't think that candidate can deliver on anything at all. Candidate Y, you agree with on about half the issues, but he can deliver. Which candidate are you going to vote for?" Now, in fairness, he went on to say -- perhaps mindful of how his off-the-cuff remarks might have been taken -- this has nothing to do with what's going on now. It's pretty hard to believe it doesn't have anything to do with what's going on now, Governor.

RENDELL: Well, I think Bill Clinton will have a -- also have a chance to state his agenda and what he feels tomorrow. And look, obviously, what's said has been said. But we can point out a lot of things that Republicans said about Senator McCain during the campaign if we wanted to play that game. I think it's a little childish. Bill Clinton will make it clear that the agenda that Barack Obama has set out is his agenda and Hillary Clinton's agenda. Can Barack Obama get it done? You bet he can. And I believe President Clinton's going to say this is about vision and leadership. And listen, Barack Obama has created a vision and carved out a path for America, I think, second to none. That's his strong suit. I think he can get it done. Bill Clinton's going to surprise the heck out of people tomorrow.

[...]

AL HUNT (Bloomberg News Washington editor): Tom, I don't think that Hillary Clinton is nearly as big a problem for Obama as Bill Clinton. I think Hillary Clinton will do that tonight. I think she also will be a good soldier during the campaign and will try to rally her troops. Whether they'll all come along is another question. But Bill Clinton, for reasons that I honestly don't understand, is angry, he's simmering. Everyone I've talked to who's talked to him -- and I have not talked to him -- tells me the same thing.

BROKAW: Here's what he said today here in Denver. He said, you've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X, you agree with everything that he stands for, but you have some real doubts about his experience. Candidate Y only believes in half the things, but you really trust his experience -- who you gonna vote for? I mean, that's what he said in Denver. That's pretty provocative.

JUDY WOODRUFF (PBS NewsHour senior correspondent): But don't you think when it comes down do it, what Hillary Clinton says is going to matter more to these delegates and the people watching than what Bill Clinton says?

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Tom Brokaw
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Bill Clinton, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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