On the November 18 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, host Chris Matthews teased a discussion by asking, " 'She Devil?' Republicans are absolutely demonizing [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY]." While he spoke, an image of Clinton appeared on screen with the words “She Devil?” below it. Later, an image of Clinton with devil horns appeared on screen while Matthews stated: “We did poll our people and asked 12 of our regular panelists, is it smart politics for Republicans to demonize Hillary Clinton, get real personal about it? Eleven say yes. Just one say, no, it's not smart.”
From the November 18 edition of NBC's Chris Matthews Show:
MATTHEWS: “She Devil?” Republicans are absolutely demonizing Hillary Clinton. Rudy [Giuliani] openly mocks her, and Mitt [Romney] says she'll run the country into the ground. Are Republicans trying to win by branding a President Hillary as unthinkable?
MATTHEWS: Howard, of all the things we've ever talked about, you and I, over the years, this is the most complicated, and especially among the women we work with, our colleagues here. It is so -- I listen to it, and I don't get it. I see women who I've always thought were progressive on the issues, certainly feminists, who I would assume would be just taking a swan dive for Hillary, totally in love with her. It would be Thelma & Louise, “Let's go over the cliff together,” even. And yet they're going, “You know, there's something I want to think about here.”
HOWARD FINEMAN (Newsweek senior Washington correspondent): Well, her candidacy is historic, and it is complicated, and she's being shot at from all directions. She's got to do two things. She's got to show a sense of humor and show that she can live in this new world, in this new situation that she's helped to create. And she also has to counter the notion that she can't unify the country. There's a danger for her here of this becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you look at the polls, people want to unify the country. They want a unifying figure to bring change. If it's just a matter of her being attacked and attacked and attacked, and she attacks back, she fulfills the prophecy that she can't unify the country. She needs to take this big stage and embrace it somehow and not just react to it.
KATTY KAY (BBC correspondent): Looking at those debate clips, those moments when she seemed not to be doing well were often moments where she sounded shrill. Well, it's an unfortunate fact of a female voice.
DAN RATHER (anchor of HDNet's Dan Rather Reports): Americans -- male and female -- we pride ourselves as people -- we like fair play. So it's fair to attack her, and people will take it this way, where there's some substance to it, on a policy issue --
RATHER: -- or the way even she's handled things like Monica Lewinsky, what have you. But once it gets over that line, I feel very strongly it's to her advantage.
FINEMAN: But she can't get -- but she can't get defensive about it.
FINEMAN: It may be unfair, but that's the game she's in.
MICHELE NORRIS (host of NPR's All Things Considered): But --
KAY: And she does better when she uses humor.
FINEMAN: She can't be defensive.
NORRIS: She's an attorney, though.
NORRIS: And you know, she should step into the ring expecting that she's going to be attacked. And part of this is turning this around, and it's almost as simple as, you know, “What are you afraid of? Why are you attacking me?”
MATTHEWS: We did poll our people and asked 12 of our regular panelists, is it smart politics for Republicans to demonize Hillary Clinton, get real personal about it? Eleven say yes. Just one say, no, it's not smart.
Howard, you said yes. You know, I was just home a couple of weeks ago watching the local elections. Negative advertisements --
MATTHEWS: -- piling on TV the weekend before the elections because they work. Does this nastiness against Hillary, saying she's just unacceptable, going to work?
FINEMAN: It'll work if she doesn't figure out a way to surmount it, because they have only one chance to win this election, really. It's to raise fears about the commander in chief in the war on terror and to raise fears about Hillary if she's the nominee. She's got to say, “I can unify the country.” She's got to say, “I'm bigger than the attacks against me.” But in the meantime, it's working for them because it's the only thing that's unifying the Republican Party. It's really the only thing that they all agree on.