The latest Washington Post poll released this week surveying the race for governor in Virginia found what virtually every poll has this season: Democrat Terry McAuliffe has amassed surprisingly large lead in a "purple" state and in a race that was supposed to have been a toss-up between the two parties.
McAuliffe's impressive campaign run represents what appears to be a certain Democratic victory and may be a bellwether for the 2014 midterm elections. But as a longtime confidante of Bill and Hillary Clinton, McAuliffe's imminent win can also be seen as yet another political triumph for the former president and first lady.
Yet that's not how the October 24 issue of The New Republic played the unfolding campaign. In a cover story that stressed McAuliffe's ties to the former president (he's "the consummate Washington insider, Clinton vintage"), the Beltway magazine presented an amazingly snide and insulting portrait of the Democratic candidate.
Depicted as shallow, dishonest rube who fit right in with his Clinton pals, the derogatory language used to describe McAuliffe was startling: He represents "so much of what some people find gross about the subspecies" of the Washington insider; the "shamelessness," and the fact he's "so ardent in his lack of earnestness." He's a man who "managed to sell a used car - himself - to the voters of Virginia."
Imagine the tone of the coverage if the Clinton intimate were losing the Virginia race?
The New Republic's nasty piling-on of McAuliffe is just more evidence that the press, once again, may be starting to declare something of an open season on the Clintons, and those who inhabit their political universe. As Hillary Clinton segues from Secretary of State to possible presidential candidate, the Beltway media, after focusing on the rise of Barack Obama and his administration for the last six years, is also transitioning.
Unfortunately, instead of new insights and fresh perspectives, we're seeing a new generation of writers adopt the same tired, cynical tropes that the Clintons, and news consumers, have been subjected to for two decades running: Bill and Hillary are phonies who keep fooling the American public. They're relentlessly selfish people, obsessed with lining their own pockets and the source of non-stop "personal dramas."
Of course, the "drama" surrounding the Clintons often springs from the media's endless obsession with the couple, married with today's click-bait business model for news.
Fox falsely claimed that as many people watched an episode of TLC's reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo as viewed former President Bill Clinton's September 5 Democratic Convention speech. In reality, more than 10 times as many people watched the Clinton speech.
Fox, in their haste to make President Clinton look less influential than a former Toddlers and Tiaras contestant, got the story completely wrong. In fact, Clinton's convention speech drew 25.1 million viewers across the seven networks that carried his speech. By contrast, Honey Boo Boo drew 2.4 million viewers. Only if you compare Honey Boo Boo's ratings with Clinton's ratings among the 18-49 demographic on one cable news network, CNN, did the two tie each other.
The total numbers for the evening as provided by Nielsen showed that not only did total coverage on all networks for Clinton far surpass the ratings for Honey Boo Boo as well as the ratings for Paul Ryan's speech from the same night of the week during the Republican National Convention, they also beat the ratings for the second half of the opening game in the NFL regular season.
But you'd never know that at Fox. Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson declared that Honey Boo Boo "one-upped" Clinton and that the two "tied in viewers with 2.4 million."
In a May 19 Human Events op-ed titled, "To Liberals, Every Woman Looks Like a Hotel Maid," Ann Coulter compared former President Bill Clinton to "rapists," alleged statutory rapists and alleged sexual predators. Fox Nation promoted Coulter's column in a May 19 post. From the op-ed:
Only in Hollywood movies are handsome lacrosse players from nice families seen as likely rapists. In real life, they look more like the 5-foot-2-inch Roman Polanski or pudgy, unathletic Bill Clinton -- or the homunculus 5-foot-2-inch Strauss-Kahn.
Coulter has previously pushed the falsehood that Bill Clinton is a rapist, as have various other right-wing media contributors.
From the July 7 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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On Fox News, Sean Hannity asserted, "Bill Clinton says that Barack Obama may not be ready to be president." But Clinton did not say that. Rather, during an interview with ABC's Kate Snow, Clinton said, "[Y]ou could argue that no one is ever ready to be president," adding, "I mean, I certainly learned a lot about the job in my first year." Clinton went on to praise Obama, saying that "[h]e's shown a keen strategic sense" and "he's smart as a whip."
Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler falsely asserted that former President Bill Clinton "said [Sen. Barack] Obama's candidacy was a 'fairy tale.' " In fact, Clinton's comment -- "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." -- referred to Obama's statements about his position on the Iraq war, not the Obama campaign itself, as Pickler herself has previously reported.