Media Blog

“Cruella de Hil”

The Newsweek behind-the-scenes book confirms the press had it in for Hillary:

Throughout the fall of 2007, Clinton was hailed as “inevitable” by a good portion of the press corps. Even so, her campaign was suffused with a sense of grievance—that Obama was getting a free ride and that reporters were itching for her or her husband to trip up. At a debate in Philadelphia in late October, Hillary, looking sick and exhausted, stumbled on a question after parrying with her opponents for more than an hour. Asked whether she supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, she answered yes, no, maybe. Sen. Chris Dodd, then John Edwards, pounced. The Clinton campaign posted a video it dubbed “Piling On,” a rapid-fire montage of the men onstage attacking Hillary in the debate. The press accused her of playing the victim, which just heightened the sense among the Clintonites that she was a victim—of a double standard that judged women more harshly than men, especially one particular black man. The feeling deepened a couple of weeks later when Obama, at another debate, botched the same question on immigration and went unscathed by the press.

The Clintonites were not entirely wrong about the press. At the final Iowa debate, on Dec. 13, Obama was asked how he could really present himself as the candidate of change when so many of his advisers had worked in the Clinton administration. As he professorially cleared his throat (“Well, you know, I …”), a sharp laugh erupted from Hillary, who exclaimed, “I want to hear this!” Obama allowed himself a bit of drollery, remarking, “Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well.” Reporters watching in the press area began debating whether Clinton’s laugh was really a “cackle” and cracking jokes about “Cruella de Hil.”

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