Enemies list

We noted just yesterday that some Democratic political reporters seemed less than enthusiastic in their coverage of Senator Clinton. Now the author of one of those pieces the other day has a few additional things to say in a TNR piece called Bunker Hillary:

The New York Times published a front-page article titled, ONE PLACE WHERE OBAMA GOES ELBOW TO ELBOW. The feature detailed Barack Obama’s love for pickup basketball, his jersey-tugging style, even the time he hit a long game-winning shot after getting fouled. The Obama camp clearly welcomed the humanizing glimpse at Obama’s life; his rivals, probably not so much. In an ordinary campaign, that might have been it. But this is no ordinary campaign–not when Hillary Clinton is a candidate. And so, the Clinton team let Times reporter Patrick Healy, who covers the Hillary beat, know about their “annoyance” with the story, as Healy later put it…

Reporters who have covered the hyper-vigilant campaign say that no detail or editorial spin is too minor to draw a rebuke. Even seasoned political journalists describe reporting on Hillary as a torturous experience. Though few dare offer specifics for the record — “They’re too smart,” one furtively confides. “They’ll figure out who I am” — privately, they recount excruciating battles to secure basic facts. Innocent queries are met with deep suspicion. Only surgically precise questioning yields relevant answers. Hillary’s aides don’t hesitate to use access as a blunt instrument, as when they killed off a negative GQ story on the campaign by threatening to stop cooperating with a separate Bill Clinton story the magazine had in the works.

Reporters’ jabs and errors are long remembered, and no hour is too odd for an angry phone call. Clinton aides are especially swift to bypass reporters and complain to top editors. “They’re frightening!” says one reporter who has covered Clinton. “They don’t see [reporting] as a healthy part of the process. They view this as a ruthless kill-or-be-killed game.”…

Many in Washington believe the campaign feeds material to Brock’s site, as when Media Matters went after New York Times reporter Anne Kornblut last July after Kornblut misrendered a quote that led to an erroneous story claiming Hillary had criticized fellow Democrats. Not only did Clinton aides fume to the paper’s editors, but Media Matters pummeled Kornblut and the Times for several days. (A count of Media Matters stories from October found 39 headlines defending Clinton, compared to 15 for Obama and just one for John Edwards. A Media Matters spokesman strongly denied favoritism.)…

Kornblut was just back from a planned vacation she took after her story appeared when she ran into Hillary in a hotel. Referring to Kornblut’s casual attire, Hillary cracked, “Anne, I thought you left Barbados” — revealing an ominous awareness of the reporter’s movements. “That’s their imprimatur,” says the Democratic strategist with presidential experience. “When there’s a story they don’t like, they seize on it and turn it back on the reporter, and make it about the reporter.” (As First Lady, Hillary called for a public “frontal assault” against The Washington Post’s lead Whitewater reporter, Susan Schmidt, according to the Post’s Howard Kurtz, though the plan was never enacted.)…

the campaign spoiled the summer rollout of two Clinton biographies, Gerth and Van Natta’s Her Way and Bernstein’s A Woman In Charge, by obtaining advance copies and leaking them to The Washington Post on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend…Scoring embargoed galleys is a Clinton specialty. Sally Bedell Smith, author of the recent Clinton biography For Love of Politics, says she was “thunderstruck” to learn from Clinton friend Terry McAuliffe, weeks before the book’s release, that Bill Clinton had already read it. “It was unnerving that he could have gotten a copy at that stage,” she says.

Some members of the press seem to feel scared and to have been personally targeted by the Clinton campaign. (In this context, is Kathleen Willey’s claim that her manuscript was stolen from her home more believable or less?) Where are the Cubans? Where are the plumbers?

UPDATE

In a follow up that is a tad eerie given all that is written above, Media Matters today features the non-denial denial (a term made famous during Watergate) by Anita Esterday, the waitress who was allegedly stiffed by the Clinton campaign, as it appeared in the NYT:

“You people are really nuts,” she told a reporter during a phone interview. “There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”

“Who cares about tips? Can’t you see there’s a war going on?” Now that’s pretty good spin that you just can’t coach or pay for, or can you?

2 Responses to “Enemies list”

  1. JMB Says:

    Odd to see you bring up Watergate in the update. My thought as I read was that I hadn’t seen that kind of paranoia since Nixon. Add the war rhetoric, and the whole thing makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

    I suppose I should take some kind of solace in the fact that psychopathology isn’t confined to one political party or another.

  2. CherylT Says:

    This article made me cringe and continues to do so. The Clinton machinery works its magic through promises of power, riches, and undying loyalty. There is little wonder why Clinton virtually announced her campaign with a spoof on The Sopranos finale. Coincidence? I think not.

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