Chuck Todd, editor-in-chief of National Journal's The Hotline, asserted that aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) would “never admit” what “certainly seems” to be the truth -- that her campaign accelerated the timing of her presidential candidacy announcement in “reaction” to that of Sen. Barack Obama, (D-IL) four days earlier, “and the frenzy that is surrounding Obama.” In a report about Clinton's announcement on the January 20 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News by NBC News correspondent Chip Reid, Todd said, “It's hard not to view this decision as somehow a reaction to Obama and the frenzy that is surrounding Obama. I think that that sped up her timetable. They'll never admit it, but it certainly seems that way.” As presented in Reid's report, Todd offered no support for his suggestion first, that Clinton did set up the announcement in response to Obama, and, second, that her aides were not being honest in refusing to “admit it.”
By contrast, several other media outlets have reported that Clinton aides say that the timing was planned far in advance to take advantage of media attention in the weekend preceding the president's January 23 State of the Union address. Indeed, CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood made that point on the Nightly News immediately after Reid's report. Asked by Nightly News anchor John Siegenthaler why Clinton had “announce[d] this way,” Harwood said that Clinton's “aides had long targeted this weekend just before the State of the Union address because all this publicity puts her on the national state right next to George W. Bush. That underscores her status as Democratic frontrunner.”
Likewise, a January 21 Los Angeles Times article reported that, according to "[s]everal Clinton supporters," Clinton's “decision to run had been planned more than three weeks ago, with a target date carefully slotted to fall after she returned from last week's fact-finding trip to Iraq and Afghanistan and before President Bush's State of the Union speech.”
Moreover, Todd's claim about the timing and his suggestion that Clinton spokespeople were being dishonest are undermined by reports preceding the announcement. Several news reports in the preceding weeks -- here, here (subscription required) and here -- said that Clinton was expected to announce her candidacy in January. For example, a December 28 Washington Post article reported that Clinton, as well as other possible candidates like Obama, “are expected to announce their candidacies in January.”
Todd is only one of the most recent media figures to suggest dishonesty or lack of candor on the part of Clinton, while citing no support for the insinuation. As Media Matters noted on January 17, New York Times reporter Anne Kornblut suggested that Clinton may have faked a cell phone call to avoid reporters' questions.
From the January 20 edition of NBC's Nightly News:
REID: Her announcement comes just four days after Democratic Senator Barack Obama [D-IL] announced he's exploring a run for the White House.
TODD: It's hard not to view this decision as somehow a reaction to Obama and the frenzy that is surrounding Obama, and I think that that sped up her timetable. They'll never admit it, but it certainly seems that way.
REID: Today in a statement, Obama said: “I welcome her and all the candidates, not as competitors, but as allies in the work of getting our country back on track.”
SIEGENTHALER: NBC's Chip Reid in Washington for us tonight. Chip, thanks very much. With more on Senator Clinton's announcement this morning is John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent. John, why announce this way, on a Saturday, over the Internet?
HARWOOD: A website release allowed her to maximize the element of surprise and control, just as Barack Obama had done a few days earlier. And her aides had long targeted this weekend just before the State of the Union address because all this publicity puts her on the national stage right next to George W. Bush. That underscores her status as the Democratic frontrunner.