Craig Crawford: "[M]any of us in the media tend to gang up on the Clintons"
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On the January 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, NBC News political analyst and Congressional Quarterly columnist Craig Crawford reacted to co-host Joe Scarborough's earlier criticism of former President Bill Clinton, saying: "I think there's a tendency here -- I know what's going on. It's all about an old journalistic rule, which is we afflict the comfortable. And so I think that's why many times, many of us in the media tend to gang up on the Clintons. Because they're very comfortable, they're very powerful, and I think sometimes we're actually a little unfair to them, but maybe that's just how it goes."
From the January 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
SHUSTER: So we've been talking a lot this morning about this sort of battle between the [Sen. Hillary] Clinton [D-NY] campaign and [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] regarding some remarks that Barack Obama made. It set off Bill Clinton. He made some statements about Barack Obama. And then Joe earlier hammered Bill Clinton. However, we want to just clarify what the remarks were that Barack Obama said, because Bill Clinton was talking about Obama saying that there were no great ideas from Democrats the last 15 years. And Joe said, "That's not what Obama said." Well, let's clarify. Here's the clip of Barack Obama that we think Bill Clinton was actually referring to. Watch this.
OBAMA [video clip]: I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there, over the last 10, 15 years. In the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.
SHUSTER: "Challenging conventional wisdom." Well, he clarified that a little bit. But still, I think you can understand, Mika, why Bill Clinton and the Clintons, for that matter, would go off on that, to suggest: "Wait a second. With all the things that Bill Clinton did -- as [Clinton adviser] Lanny Davis pointed out, the creation of 24 million jobs, turning budget deficits into budget surpluses -- that challenges the conventional wisdom." And I think the Clintons were therefore justified to go after Barack Obama.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): Well, it was a nice, spirited debate between Lanny and Joe. And I think it's fair also to bring up that sound bite as well.
SHUSTER: And yet, Craig Crawford, it's probably not a bad general-election strategy for Barack Obama, who's hoping to try and get independents and Republicans to join him, to talk about Ronald Reagan, to a certain extent. And yet this is a Democratic primary right now.
CRAWFORD: I know. On the political level, I think those are grand things for him to be saying, as you say, and probably good stuff for a general election. But when you're trying to get those hard-core partisans out to a caucus, which is a very difficult thing to do, and only the most, you know, faithful party partisans generally show up, even though others can show up, it's kind of a weird message to be, you know, just politically speaking, to be putting out.
I'm glad you clarified that. I was going a little nuts earlier this morning when Joe was reacting there to Clinton, because Clinton was not reacting to the tape that you were showing earlier. And it was the comment where -- that you just now showed -- that Clinton was reacting to. And I think there's a tendency here -- I know what's going on. It's all about an old journalistic rule, which is we afflict the comfortable. And so I think that's why many times, many of us in the media tend to gang up on the Clintons. Because they're very comfortable, they're very powerful, and I think sometimes we're actually a little unfair to them, but maybe that's just how it goes.
SHUSTER: Well, I think some people are certainly unfair. There was another cable-news organization that rhymes with "clocks" that said that Bill Clinton had completely lost his cool and blown up at a reporter there from Oakland, when, in fact, when you see the clip of Bill Clinton reacting to that reporter, he's just being very firm. But, you know, that's their standards, and we have ours.