Conservative Media Run With Misleading Report That Bill Clinton Slammed Obama

Right-wing media repeatedly cited a misleading Tennessee newspaper report that took former President Bill Clinton out of context to claim that he criticized President Obama during a campaign speech for not doing enough to effect change in the country. In fact, full video of Clinton's remarks reveals that he repeatedly praised Obama's accomplishments and explicitly criticized those who claim that Obama didn't accomplish enough.

Tennessee Newspaper Reports That Bill Clinton Said Obama Isn't A “Change-Maker”

The Commercial Appeal Reports On Clinton Speech, Including Only Partial Transcript. After a February 11 campaign rally in Memphis, Tennessee, a local newspaper reported on Bill Clinton's comments regarding President Obama. The newspaper included only part of Clinton's remarks, characterizing President Obama as not a “change-maker.” The article has since been updated to clarify Clinton's remark, but still only offers partial transcript of his remarks about Obama:

But in talking about the struggles of middle-and lower-class America, Clinton was met with silence when he said President Barack Obama wasn't a “change-maker” like Hillary. He clarified a few sentences later that Obama has had accomplishments, including the Affordable Care Act.

“Yea, it's rigged,” he said, speaking of the financial system, “because you don't have a president who's a change-maker, who has a Congress who will work with him. But the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for.”

He wrapped up at about the same time the sixth Democratic debate started in Wisconsin. [The Commercial Appeal2/12/16; Twitter, 2/12/16]

Right-Wing Media Outlets Echo The Commercial Appeal To Claim Clinton Criticized Obama's Ability To Bring Change

Newsmax: Bill Clinton Says Obama Is “Not So Much” A "'Change-Maker.'" In a February 13 article, Newsmax quoted The Commercial Appeal's  article and claimed the former president said President Obama is not “a change-maker”:

Former President Bill Clinton said that the United States does not “have a president who's a change-maker” -- though he gave current President Barack Obama a muted compliment on his efforts to improve the nation's economy.


Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is “the best change-maker I've ever known,” the nation's 42nd president told voters Thursday at a rally in Memphis, The Commercial Appeal reports. "She's always making something good happen.

“A lot of people say you don't understand that it's rigged now,” he said of the nation's struggling economy. “Yeah, it's rigged now, because you don't have a president who's a change-maker, who, with a Congress who will work with him. [, 2/13/16]

Washington Examiner: Bill Clinton Agrees With Bernie Sanders That Obama Is Not A “Change-Maker.” The Washington Examiner  echoed The Commercial Appeal's story that Bill Clinton criticized Obama for failing to be a “change-maker.” Gehrke wrote that Hillary Clinton slammed rival Bernie Sanders for offering the same critique of the president during Thursday's Democratic debate:

Bill Clinton criticized President Obama's leadership abilities, blaming his Democratic successor for failing to bring equality to the financial system.

“Yeah, it's rigged,” Clinton said Thursday while campaigning in Tennessee, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "[That's] because you don't have a president who's a change-maker, who has a Congress who will work with him. But the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for."

The former president's comments echo a critique made by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bill Clinton made the remarks just as she was faulting Sanders for criticizing Obama's leadership abilities, potentially undermining his wife's effort to thwart Sanders' outreach to black voters. [Washington Examiner2/12/16]

Daily Caller Claimed Bill Clinton Is President Obama's “Biggest Critic.” In a February 12 article, the Daily Caller cited The Commercial Appeal's article to characterize Clinton's comments as a “not-so-subtle-slam of Obama”:   

Hillary Clinton criticized Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during Thursday night's Democratic debate in Milwaukee of being overly critical of President Obama. But it was the front-runner's husband, Bill Clinton, who issued the most stinging rebuke of the evening against the 44th president.

Speaking at an event in Memphis Thursday evening, the former president asserted that Obama is not the “change-maker” that Hillary Clinton is.


Bill Clinton's not-so-subtle slam of Obama, who ran in 2008 on the motto “Hope and Change,” came while his wife criticized Sanders for having publicly disagreed with the president in the past. She cited an interview Sanders gave in 2011 in which he said that Obama has been “weak” in his dealings with Republicans. [Daily Caller, 2/12/16]

Independent Journal Review: Bill Clinton Comments “Went Off-Message.” The Independent Journal Review wrote that Bill Clinton admitted what Hillary wouldn't when he criticized the president for not being a “change-maker” and working with Congress:

Hillary Clinton shamed Bernie Sanders for pulling “personal assessments and charges” on the president, but it looks like Bill Clinton is going off script.


However, just because Hillary won't admit it, doesn't mean Bill won't.

At a campaign stop at a high school stadium, President Clinton went off-message, saying of the financial system:

“Yeah, it's rigged because you don't have a president who's a change-maker, who has a Congress who will work with him.” [Independent Journal Review, 2/13/16]

Full Speech Shows Bill Clinton Repeatedly Offered Praise For Obama's Accomplishments, Criticized Those Who Claim He Didn't Accomplish Enough

Clinton Tells Crowd Obama Hasn't Gotten All The Credit He Deserves, “Don't You Forget It.” In a February 13 article, Mediaite's Tommy Christopher published a more complete transcript, along with video of Clinton's remarks during the rally in Tennessee, which show him repeatedly praising the job President Obama has done and the audience cheering him on:

Yeah, it's rigged because you don't have a president who is a change maker with a Congress who will work with him. But the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for. And don't you forget it!

(Applause so huge Bill has to wait for it to die down, then continue talking because it won't)

Don't you forget it! Don't you forget it! I've been there, and we shared the same feeling. We only had a Democratic Congress for two years. And then we lost it. And yet some of the loudest voices in my party said, it's unbelievable, said “Well the only reason we had it for two years is that President Obama isn't liberal enough!”

Is there one soul in this crowd that believes that? [Mediaite, 2/13/16]