The Corner

Politics & Policy

Behold the World’s Lowest Bar!

I’ve spent much of my life observing and writing about media bias, so you’d think nothing could surprise me at this point. But the fawning, deferential coverage of Hillary Clinton really is amazing.

Hillary Clinton went to Chipotle yesterday. ABC described this as an “adventure” as Patrick notes below. An. Adventure. 

No wonder she thinks she’s named after Sir Edmund Hillary, they’re both such bold risk takers, pushing the envelope. 

On Morning Joe earlier, Mark Halperin offered a somewhat more serious analysis of Indiana Clinton and the Raiders of the Ohio Chipotle: “Her problem is not to prove to people that she’s ready for president . . . The two words she needs are ‘fun’ and ‘new.’ And part of why yesterday was so successful is, she looks like she’s having fun and she’s doing, for her, new stuff. We’ve never seen her get a burrito before.” 

Good Lord, what are we in for? I mean there are a lot of things we’ve never seen Clinton do before. That doesn’t mean if she does them in front of cameras it will be exciting, politically savvy or, you know, news. “Hillary Clinton seen buying dental floss, news at 11:00!” “Report: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is said to have put splenda in her Starbucks coffee.”

Now, to a certain extent, Halperin’s point has some merit. Hillary Clinton is uninspiring save to those who have an ideological fixation with electing a female president or are otherwise smitten with the Clintons. Being seen as fun and new would be a huge political win for Clinton because she needs to be more likable. 

The problem with Halperin’s analysis is that it discounts the hugely important fact that he and his colleagues in the media are treating a trip to Chipotle as if it’s a really exciting, fun, and new thing — an adventure even. This is a gift, and Halperin & Co. don’t seem to want anything in return. Personally, I’d find it sexist and condescending to marvel at the fact an older lady can still figure out how to buy lunch, but apparently the rules say that only inconvenient or negative coverage of Hillary Clinton is sexist.

Of course, this whole road trip is a manufactured stunt (as most campaign “happenings” are). The press knows this. But even Chuck Todd is calling it a savvy bit of spontaneity. Maybe it would be unfair or premature to cover Hillary’s road trip with the sort of cynicism and skepticism I have for it, but it’s no less biased for the press to let their personal giddiness over her burrito trip color their analysis. The press is covering her Chipotle adventure so positively because they are having fun with it (or perhaps because they’re eager to curry favor with the Clinton communications shop). I don’t expect the MSM to treat Hillary the way it treated another older, out-of-touch politician she’s being compared to a lot these days. The press, specifically the New York Times, fabricated a storyline when it savaged the first president Bush over his polite surprise at a checkout scanner at a trade show. But that does raise a worthwhile standard: at least tell the truth. That means explaining how carefully scripted this thing is. Or at least get the little facts right: she didn’t order a burrito, she ordered a burrito bowl. That means Halperin has something exciting to look forward to, because we’ve still never seen Hillary Clinton get a burrito. 

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