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Hillary ‘Facts’ Too Good to Check?


Last week, ABC Nightline co-anchor Cynthia McFadden conducted her latest supportive interview with Hillary Clinton, talking to her about how “endlessly fascinating” it is to speculate about her. The beginning of the interview was a set of questions and statements protesting the idea that she wouldn’t run for president again: “It’s just a little bit soon, somehow, having trying to keep up with you for the last few days. You don’t seem … you don’t seem tired. You don’t seem daunted. You don’t seem as if you were anywhere close to stopping.”

But the biggest howler around the interview didn’t occur on air. It was McFadden’s bald-faced assertion on the feminist website Women on the Web that “Clinton is the only secretary of state in the past 60 years, besides Ed Muskie, who comes from a political background.”

If this was strictly defined as serving in elected office, this might work, but not in the broader world of “political” background. The first secretary of state who occurred to me was Warren Christopher, who headed Bill Clinton’s search committee for a vice-presidential nominee in 1992, and then headed the Clinton transition.

But the name that really makes McFadden look shaky is James Baker — the man who managed the presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford (1976) and George H.W. Bush (1980 primaries, 1988). As Reagan’s chief of staff in 1984, he was seen by journalists as the de facto campaign manager that year.  He also ran for elective office once — losing a Texas attorney general’s race to Mark White in 1978.


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