New York Times Magazine writer Mark Leibovich paints a bleak picture of the press covering Hillary Clinton‘s every move in her quest to win the White House in 2016.
They’re vultures, bullies and shouters. They’re self-aggrandizing.
They care about stupid things — like what she ate for lunch at a Chipotle in Ohio — and seem to cause Clinton, in turn, to ask absurd questions while touring a microbrewery in New Hampshire. She wanted to hold grain in her hands. She asked, “Where does the Barley come from?”
But it’s a vicious circle isn’t it?
In his story, Leibovich describes a press team surrounding Hillary that says things that force a reporter to reveal the ridiculous depths her staff will plunge to in order to control her image.
When Leibovich visited her Brooklyn campaign headquarters to meet with Robby Mook, her campaign manager, a press aide, Jesse Ferguson informed him that the office space would be off-the-record. Leibovich refused to honor it. Hilariously, Ferguson said he didn’t want guests devolving into a tweeting contest (you know, with the throngs of people who want to visit the building and brag on social media that they were there).
Ferguson ultimately wanted anything Leibovich saw “embargoed” until his piece published. Embarrassingly, he even buttered the reporter up by telling him that this “still means you’re the first reporter who can report anything from the office.” (Oh boy, really?)
Leibovich abided by a no-tweeting rule, but refused to keep a 40,000-foot space off record. That said, he didn’t really see anything juicy there unless you count spotting President Obama‘s former body man Reggie Love. (A little Zzzzzzz.)
Even the way the NYT writer landed the interview became part of his lengthy profile.
“Her campaign at first declined to make her available for an interview. It did offer me an ‘off the record’ meeting, which is highly irregular: an off-the-record sit-down with a profile subject who happens to be running for president, and who is not exactly new to these rodeos. (I demurred on the off-the-record sit-down, at least at first.)”
Leibovich ultimately agreed to an off-the-record meeting and ultimately landed his partial on-the-record interview.
On one hand he shows FNC’s Ed Henry bragging about getting Hillary to finally answer questions from reporters to shouts of “DO YOU HAVE A PERCEPTION PROBLEM?” But on the other, he depicts Hillary’s handlers as people who regularly treat members of press like “cattle” that they literally corral with rope.
The writer makes fun of the notion that this was somehow appalling. He also notes that the national media made sure it became the day’s big news.
“That image became the day’s takeaway, at least in the national media: proof, supposedly, of Clinton’s running scared from the ‘tough questions,’ thwarting press freedom on this day of our independence.”
But maybe it isn’t reporters who occasionally deserve to be treated like animals.
The most startling scene comes at a fourth of July parade when a smiling Hillary walks a parade route and telling a reporter what a “great time” she’s having. Meawhile, there’s Leibovich watching her face down Benghazi signs and shouts from complete strangers calling her a “LIAR” and a “CARPETBAGGER.”