Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Pinksuit Press Conference of 1994

The media is full of faux outrage over Hillary holding a presser. In truth she had one a few weeks ago, but the Beltway pundits have decided it wasn't one because it didn't have their specifications.

First of all, let me be clear about pressers. The media tries to dress this up in a question of public interest, of transparency.

But let me suggest this mind blowing point: a presser doesn't necessarily equal transparency.

For instance, there's Trump. He gets credit for giving more media access. Though I can't get anyone in the media to tell me when Trump last gave a presser. We know from the press that a 'gaggle' does not equal a presser.

So I'd be curious to know how many pressers  has given that meet the Beltway's exacting specifications.

But again, a presser doesn't necessarily equal transparency. Trump according to Politifacts lies egregiously 70% of the time. So if he gives a presser that is 70% pants on fire how does watching it increase public transparency?

Matt Yglesais makes the point that even if she hasn't done a presser since December-though I'm not ready to grant that what she did two weeks ago wasn't a PC-we know all her positions on the issues like the back of our hands.

So she is transparent in that we know exactly where she stands on things like the minimum wage, taxes, Social Security, college debt, etc.

With Trump we have no clue as he

1. Lies 70% of the time

2. Comes out with absurd and contradictory policies

3. Constantly flip flops.

Hillary and her team have chosen as a strategy not to do too many pressers this time. The sad truth for the national press is she doesn't need them.

But she has given plenty of press conferences in the past. Like in 2008. And believe it or not, she once gave a 70 minute presser.

Charles Pierce has a great piece on it.

HT: Nanute

Here's how Pierce would solve the Hillary Clinton Press Conference 'Problem':

"Step 1: Get over your own journalistic entitlement."

"Because fck you, that's why."

"This is not an answer that an ambitious pol should give to the question of why said pol has not had a formal press conference in 263 days, but I guarantee you that it's the answer most of the pols I've ever met wanted to give. The endless calls for Hillary Rodham Clinton to submit to unscripted questions long ago moved from journalistic curiosity to journalistic entitlement."

"No, kids, she doesn't have to hold a press conference. In fact, as regards some sort of duty to democracy, she has less obligations to answer your questions than she has to answer the questions of a terrified Iowa farmer or the mother of an opiate addict in New Hampshire. As a member of the craft, I think it would be best for all concerned if she did but, at this point, the whining is setting off the alarms at NORAD and any press conference she held would result in a general square-dance of self-congratulation in every Green Room inside and outside the Beltway."

I'm glad he mentioned Iowa farmers and mother of an opiate addict in NH. When the Hillary team points out she has done 350 interviews, the media grouses that many of them weren't to national journalists like them.

"On the other hand, a good chunk of the 350 interviews Clinton gave did not involve people I'd consider journalists or shows I consider news."

So in his world all that matters are national journalists. It's more in line with democracy for her to talk to Beltway journalists than actual people. Strange definition of democracy. You know, what counts is kissing the ring of Andrea Mitchell, of Chris Cillizza, of Morning Joe, Iowa farmers and the mother of an opiate addict be damned.

As for those who think she gets bad coverage because she won't do a presser, this is an illusion.

Nicole Wallace-yep, of the W. Bush Administration-is acting pious about pressers. The Bush Administration was exemplary in it's transparency to be sure.

"Leaving aside the fact that, like anyone else in that bubonic plague of a presidency, Nicolle Wallace has not cleaned enough bedpans at Walter Reed to be allowed back in polite politics, the idea that one press conference (or two, or 105) would put the carefully crafted "perception" to rest is laughable. (It is the idiot cousin of the argument that, had Bill Clinton copped to his affair, he wouldn't have been impeached.) It is belied not only by the experience of her own husband's presidency, but also by a nearly forgotten episode during her time as First Lady."

"It was called the "Pink Suit Press Conference." It was a 70-minute performance piece in which HRC answered questions about the phony cattle-futures scandal and the phony Whitewater scandal. (You can watch a piece of it here, if you have no life of any kind.) This took place in 1994. Subsequent to that, there was a summer of endless, baffling hearings in the House and the Senate in which 29 Clinton administration officials testified and nobody was charged with any wrongdoing. (This was during the period in which Al D'Amato was a United States Senator and nobody was embarrassed by that fact.)"

"That August, Ken Starr replaced Robert Fiske as the special prosecutor. And everything, of course, went downhill from there. So I think that we can safely say that the Pink Suit Press Conference did not put all the questions to rest, and that anyone who thinks that another press conference on the trail in 2016 would eliminate the "perception" that exists out there is either a charlatan or a fool."

"(Also, I am inexcusably tardy in pointing out that Tiger Beat On The Potomac ran a piece in 2015 about HRC's previous press conference and hired to write it Jeff Gerth, the guy whose botched report on Whitewater started the whole business. Well played.)"

Giving them a presser won't change the media's attitude. So if there is any reason for her to give one-I'm skeptical-it's not to get better coverage.

This is the same trap with shutting down the Clinton Foundation. This would be terrible for poor children, AIDs victims, the world over. And she'd get no long term political benefit from it anyway. 

Just see the reaction to the changes the Clinton Foundation just announced. 

"I thought my head was gonna explode. Bill says we'll close foundation if she elected, then THAT becomes the scandal."

"Of course the challenge is that a shutdown only "proves" to the press that secret, undiscovered corruption really existed. @JamesCarville"

"exactly. There is no out. Either way the narrative remains the same."

"That's why they should leave it open. After all if the narrative remains the same no matter what then keep it open and at least the 11.5 million AIDs victims that the organization helps won't lose their medication."

Remember, it's never about the public interest. It's always the national press' own bloodthirsty desire to destroy the Clintons that has been frustrated for 25 years.

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