The Corner

Politics & Policy

On CNN, Keilar Wrestles the Cloud Named Hillary Clinton

Earlier this hour, CNN aired Hillary Clinton’s first major televised interview of her campaignabout three months after the (first) announcement.

Before the interview, CNN revealed a preview of her hitting Donald Trump for his comments on immigration — an easy lay-up for Hillary, who’s eager to win the Latino vote and paint Republicans as nasty xenophobes. Conservatives on Twitter braced for the worst softball questions from CNN reporter Brianna Keilar. Some on the right recalled Keilar’s past seemingly way-too-cheery coverage of Hillary’s trip to Chipotle; on the other hand, Hillary’s allies at Media Matters for America whined about Keilar’s past statement that “Clinton is ‘without major achievements’” and that she “has struggled to clearly articulate concrete examples of her success.”

Today’s interview is about what we should expect from Keilar; nowhere near as bad as conservatives feared, but also nowhere as tough as they wanted to see. She asked questions on most of the topics on conservatives’ minds – Hillary’s personal e-mail, the Clinton Foundation, the fatal consequences of San Francisco’s decision to be a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants – but the lack of follow-up questions and specifics let Hillary filibuster with her particular brand of eye-rolling clichés. Today, Keilar attempted to wrestle a cloud.

Keilar’s persistent early focus was on why polling indicates that increasing number of voters don’t trust Hillary. Perhaps the interviewer was hoping for a sign of contrition or assumption of responsibility; Hillary blamed a “barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the right” — a faint echo of her claim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” in 1998 as the Lewinsky scandal broke. In fact, Hillary almost acknowledged she was recycling her blame-throwing, declaring that untrustworthiness “has been a theme that has been used against me and my husband for many, many years.” Indeed, why would they keep doing that if it is so baseless, Hillary?

Keilar will face some legitimate complaints about the lack of tough follow-up questions, but at least here she had a good one, asking Hillary, “Would you vote for a candidate you didn’t trust?”

Hillary said, on her e-mails, “everything I did was permitted and I went above and beyond what was expected,” which is just flat-out not true, and it would have been nice if Keilar had cited federal record-keeping requirements and some of the Sid Blumenthal e-mails. She could have asked about Hillary’s decision to use Blumenthal after Obama forbid him to work at the State Department. She could have asked whether Blumenthal’s reports influenced her policy recommendations to the president on Libya. She could have cited the DIA chief’s assessment that foreign intelligence services have her e-mails. She could have pointed out that the documents were under subpoena from Congress.

Hillary’s generically disapproving response to the stomach-turning, outrageous recent tragedy in San Francisco, where an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times killed an innocent woman, indicates national Democrats will probably not spend a lot of time defending the “sanctuary city” policy or echoing California attorney general Kamala Harris’ declaration that “our policy should not be informed by our collective outrage about one man’s conduct.” But Clinton appears to think this is some sort of bureaucratic snafu, instead of a natural, foreseeable consequence of a city’s declaring it will no longer cooperate with federal immigration-enforcement authorities. Democrats will sigh and shake their head, “If only the city had listened to the Department of Homeland Security!”

We don’t know how much time Hillary permitted for the interview, but CNN finished airing it within a half-hour. If that was all the Clinton team would allow, the lighter questions about Saturday Night Live and which woman should go on the $10 bill should have been scrapped.

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