Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume and Hannity & Colmes, as well as MSNBC's Live with Dan Abrams, all featured segments in which the authenticity of emotions expressed by Hillary Clinton at a recent campaign event was questioned, repeating a pattern in which media figures baselessly claimed that Clinton's actions during a previous emotional moment just before the New Hampshire presidential primary were not “genuine” or were “pretend.”
Following what the Associated Press described as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) “emotional reunion” during a February 4 campaign event “with a colleague from the early days of her legal career as a child advocate,” several media figures questioned whether Clinton's actions were genuine:
- On the February 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, correspondent Major Garrett reported that "[f]or the second time just before a big election, Clinton choked up for the cameras" and went on to assert that Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) “gain among women [voters] made Clinton's display of emotion today appear at least as strategic as genuine.” Host and Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume introduced Garrett's report as follows: “Obama is putting on a press, of course, now to win the women's vote, which has been considered crucial to Senator Clinton's prospects. Meantime, she appears to have become a little weepy again,” a reference to Clinton's earlier emotional moment one day before the January 8 New Hampshire presidential primary.
- On the February 4 edition of MSNBC's Live with Dan Abrams, nationally syndicated radio host Stephanie Miller said of Clinton's emotional moment earlier that day: “I have to say the second time, Dan, right before a big voting day, I'm a little bit suspicious. I'm just saying, if you're a girl crying to get out of a speeding ticket? Yes. ... Crying to be president? No.”
- On the February 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity asked syndicated columnist Dick Morris: “Two national polls now have Obama winning in this race ... And then here we are on a primary eve, what does Hillary do? She cries the day before the primary. What is this pattern that's emerging?” Morris replied, “It worked once.”
- A panel on the February 4 edition of MSNBC's Hardball also pondered the reasons Clinton “tear[ed] up” during the event at the Yale Child Study Center, with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson remarking: "[W]ith some people it's sad movies; with some people, they see a puppy, they want to -- with Hillary Clinton ... it's an impending primary. It just breaks her down."
Media Matters for America previously documented several media figures who, after the January 7 incident, baselessly claimed that Clinton's actions were not “genuine” or were “pretend.”
From the February 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
HUME: And welcome to Fox News election headquarters in New York. I'm Brit Hume. The start of the biggest political day of the political season so far is but hours away, and heading into the primary bundle called Super Tuesday, the latest RealClearPolitics polling average for Democrats puts Hillary Clinton now just slightly ahead of Barack Obama, 44.4 to 41.9. Obama is putting on a press, of course, now to win the women's vote, which has been considered crucial to Senator Clinton's prospects. Meantime, she appears to have become a little weepy again. Correspondent Major Garrett reports.
[begin video clip]
GARRETT: For the second time just before a big election, Hillary Clinton choked up for the cameras. The trigger this time: an introduction at Yale from a former law professor.
PENN RHODEEN (public interest lawyer): So welcome home, dear friend. We are so proud of you.
CLINTON: I said I would not tear up. Already, we're not exactly on that path.
GARRETT: The Associated Press captured this photo of Clinton doing just that. Barack Obama has gained steadily on Clinton and campaigned today in New Jersey, once thought untouchable.
OBAMA: How is it going, New Jersey? I have said repeatedly, I love you back.
GARRETT: According to the most recent Gallup national poll, Obama has pulled into a virtual tie with Clinton, gaining 11 points in less than three weeks. This is one indicator Obama may surprise Clinton and score significant Super Tuesday victories. If he does, one part of the electorate may play a key role.
KIRSTEN POWERS (Fox News political analyst): She has the women vote. It's all been sort of divided, but what you've seen is he's started to cut into that slowly over time. She used to have an enormous lead there by 40-plus points.
GARRETT: Obama's gain among women made Clinton's display of emotion today appear at least as strategic as genuine. Regardless, Team Obama is countering Clinton among women with the endorsement of California first lady Maria Shriver.
SHRIVER: And there's a woman I admire, and I have her quote above my computer in my office at home. It's Eleanor Roosevelt. And it says, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor, wherever you are, this is my one thing for today.
From the February 4 edition of MSNBC's Live with Dan Abrams, with host Dan Abrams and Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Peter Beinart:
ABRAMS: During a campaign stop in Connecticut today, Hillary Clinton fought back tears for the second time in as many months as she was introduced by her former boss.
[begin video clip]
RHODEEN: So welcome home, dear friend. We are so proud of you.
CLINTON: I said I would not tear up. Already we are not exactly on that path.
[end video clip]
ABRAMS: You may remember Clinton got emotional the day before the New Hampshire primary, a moment many think helped turn that election in her favor. She got hammered for it by Obama adviser and retired Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak over the weekend. He told the L.A. Times, quote, “Obama doesn't go on television and have crying fits. He isn't discovering his voice at the age of 60.” Ouch.
The Obama camp quickly distanced themselves from this, and McPeak was forced to retract his remarks. It seems to me, Stephanie Miller, that that would be a blunder by team Obama?
MILLER: Well, yeah, at first I thought it was, Dan, but now after the second time I have to say there's no crying in baseball, and there's no crying in politics. I defended her the first time. My male co-hosts were like, “Oh, that was so manufactured.” And I was like, “No, it wasn't, and you're making me cry just saying it.”
But I have to say the second time, Dan, right before a big voting day, I'm a little bit suspicious. I'm just saying, if you're a girl crying to get out of a speeding ticket? Yes.
ABRAMS: But see --
MILLER: Crying to be president? No.
ABRAMS: But the point is, Peter, when you're, as Stephanie puts it, a “girl” -- I put that in quotes -- you can more freely -- you can more freely criticize another, in quotes, “girl” than a boy criticizing a girl about crying. That doesn't work in politics.
BEINART: Yeah. And you know, the Obama campaign has also made a big point of the fact that they don't want to get into this petty stuff, that they want to be above it. So it doesn't seem to me like that statement really helped them at all.
From the February 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
ALAN COLMES (co-host): You said something early on which I didn't agree with, and now it seems it's more and more likely, that if Hillary gets the nomination, she might choose Barack Obama as a running mate because of the numbers, the sheer numbers.
MORRIS: Well, I think Hillary would probably like to choose [New Mexico Gov. Bill] Richardson, but she might have to choose Obama. But right now, I don't think we should be talking about Hillary's running mate. I think -- if I had to absolutely guess right now, I would think that maybe the advantage is more with Obama.
HANNITY: I would actually agree with you, Dick. And welcome back to the program. Two national polls now have Obama winning in this race, two of them. And then here we are on a primary eve, what does Hillary do? She cries the day before the primary. What is this pattern that's emerging?
MORRIS: It worked once. But I think that -- I think that from the Republican -- the other thing that's going on is that Republicans, rightly or wrongly, are believing that [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ] is winning, so a lot of independents are going to say," I don't need to vote in the Republican primary for McCain. I can vote in the Democratic primary for Obama because my central interest is in stopping Hillary."