Washington Post's Milbank on Hillary Clinton: "The press will savage her no matter what"


On CNN's Reliable Sources, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that "[t]he press will savage her no matter what." Indeed, Milbank himself has smeared Clinton or propagated misinformation about her.

On the December 30 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, Washington Post national political reporter Dana Milbank said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) that "[t]he press will savage her no matter what." He made the comment in response to a question from Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, the Reliable Sources host, about whether the media would "savage her as a loser" if she "gets edged out by 1,000 votes" in the Iowa caucus. Milbank went on to characterize Clinton's relationship with the press as "poisonous" and "venomous," and said that journalists "dislike" her.

Neither Kurtz nor Milbank mentioned instances in which Milbank himself has smeared Clinton or propagated misinformation about her. Following the 2007 State of the Union address, on the January 24 broadcast of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Milbank said: "Hillary Clinton was situated immediately behind [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL], making it easier for her to actually place the knife into his back, if that's what she was trying to do." As Media Matters for America noted, Milbank, who repeated the comment later that day, was echoing a familiar media characterization of Clinton as ruthless.

As Media Matters also documented, in his December 19 "Washington Sketch" column, Milbank wrote that Clinton "divulged some startling news: She was dispatching across Iowa 'people who have known me, who can talk about what I do when the lights are off.' As luck would have it, Bill Clinton was campaigning with his wife in the Hy-Vee, and he was asked what he and the senator do in their, um, downtime." But, describing Clinton's statement as "nearly a case of Too Much Information," Milbank left off the rest of Clinton's sentence, which made clear that she was not insinuating what Milbank suggested.

From the Nexis transcript of the December 30 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

KURTZ: I had the impression it was a camp reunion when I was out there in Iowa. And it is great, the retail campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire. It is fun to cover and it is real, but it's -- when the votes are counted and we decide who did well -- for example, Hillary Clinton, let's say she doesn't win Iowa. Let's say she gets edged out by 1,000 votes. Is the press going to savage her as a loser?

MILBANK: The press will savage her no matter what, pretty much.

KURTZ: If she wins?

MILBANK: Well, obviously if she wins by any great margin -- the press with Hillary Clinton, it's a poisonous relationship. And I visited the various campaigns out there. It's a mutual sort of disregard. And they really have their knives out for her, there's no question about it out there. So --

KURTZ: And to what extent do you think that is affecting the coverage of Senator Clinton?

MILBANK: I think it unquestionably is. And I think Obama gets significantly better coverage than Hillary Clinton does, and given an equal performance he'll come out better for it.

KURTZ: Is this because journalists like Obama better than Hillary or --

MILBANK: It's more that they dislike Hillary Clinton. There is a long history there, her antagonism towards the press. It's returned in spades. And it is a venomous relationship that I see out there.

KURTZ: Interesting. All right.

Dana Milbank
Reliable Sources
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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