In her June 20 column (subscription required), New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about an online video produced by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign that features Sen. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton spoofing a scene from the series finale of HBO's The Sopranos. Dowd wrote that Sen. Clinton, like Tony Soprano, “is so power-hungry that she can justify any thuggish means to get the prize.” While Dowd used the occasion of the Sopranos spoof to make an explicit comparison between Sen. Clinton and a fictional character who has engaged in acts of murder and torture, her column is hardly the first to portray the Clintons and their staff as ruthless and even violent. Dowd herself, as well as numerous other media figures, have characterized them in that way before.
The June 20 column marked the second consecutive piece by Dowd that has mentioned Clinton in connection with a mob boss. In her June 17 column (subscription required), she wrote that "[t]he Clintons act high-minded and do-gooding, while employing a staff of hit men" and went on to pose the “big question” raised by Sen. Clinton's recent financial disclosures: “As long as a guy was willing to give them millions, would it matter if his name were Al Capone?” Dowd has made similar comparisons between the Clintons and the Sopranos in columns on June 6, 2004, May 16, 2001, and April 16, 2000 (subscription required).
Additionally, Dowd has warned Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) about Clinton, writing in her December 13, 2006, column (subscription required) -- titled “Will Hillzilla Crush Obambi?” -- that Clinton's “campaign will be ruthless in stomping on Obambi.” And in a March 3 column (subscription required), Dowd wrote that "[a]s a woman, she [Clinton] clearly feels she must be aggressive in showing she can 'deck' opponents," and referred to Clinton aide Howard Wolfson as “her pinstriped thug.”
Dowd's latest comparison -- that “like Tony,” Sen. Clinton “can justify any thuggish means” -- recalled right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh's scurrilous suggestion that Sen. Clinton had then-deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster murdered while she was first lady. Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances (here, here, and here) of Limbaugh insinuating that the Clintons were involved in the death of Foster, who committed suicide in Northern Virginia's Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993. Limbaugh has also advised a caller to “go to Fort Marcy Park” on the caller's upcoming visit to Washington, D.C., and "[s]ee if you get out alive."
On the January 24 broadcast of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, discussing the potential 2008 presidential candidates who attended President Bush's State of the Union address, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asserted: “Hillary Clinton was situated immediately behind Barack Obama, making it easier for her to actually place the knife into his back, if that's what she was trying to do.” Later, on the January 24 edition of MSNBC News Live, Milbank repeated his line to host Chris Jansing. Jansing opined: “I don't think [director] Martin Scorsese could have staged this one better, Senator Clinton sitting right behind Senator Obama during the State of the Union.” Milbank called Clinton's seat “a perfect spot” and stated: “She could have inserted the knife right there without even being detected.”
On the April 24, 2005, edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, host Chris Matthews referred to Sen. Clinton as “sort of a Madame Defarge of the left” -- a slur previously advanced by conservative syndicated columnist and former CNN host Robert Novak and MSNBC host Monica Crowley.
Madame Defarge is a villainous character in Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities. According to BookRags.com, a website that provides study guides for classic novels, Madame Defarge is “a cruel, vengeance-seeking agent of the [French] revolution ... [who] spends her days knitting a 'register' of names of people she has marked for death.”
On January 19, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck discussed a baseless allegation by InsightMag.com that the Clinton campaign had falsely alleged that Obama was educated at a madrassa. In reference to that accusation, Beck stated that if “you hear a strange grinding noise coming from the Clinton estate, it could be Hillary Clinton sharpening her knives in the basement.”
On the December 22, 2006, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fox News contributor Dennis Miller advised Obama that “if Michael Corleone's admonition about where to keep your enemies is true, well, Obama should have one Clinton skin grafted on.” Miller added: “The Clintons will put the long knives in on Obama when they need to, and one hopes that he doesn't have that startled 'Et tu, Bubba?' look on his face when they do it.”
In his December 18, 2006, column commenting on a potential race between Sen. Clinton and Obama, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund predicted that Clinton and “her side will haul out the brass knuckles to stop him.”
On the October 27, 2002, edition of the Chris Matthews Show, Newsweek chief political correspondent Howard Fineman said that “the people who are running the Democratic campaign behind the scenes are Bill and Hillary Clinton and all of their friends from the Clinton years,” a group he described as “basically the Corleones and the Barzinis.”