Via the Media Research Center, I hope we can all agree that the proper way to cover a high government official dodging questions about a catastrophic security failure on her watch that led to a U.S. ambassador being murdered is by focusing on her polling and recovery from a blood clot. Turns out the story of yesterday’s testimony wasn’t Hillary’s outrageous evasiveness about Benghazi, it was her personal triumph in showing up at the hearing after being sick and concluding a glorious reign at State that accomplished nothing in particular by enduring six hours of questions from angry Republican cavemen. And the networks, compared to cable, were admirably restrained: MSNBC has been in full fainting swoon for at least 18 hours while Piers Morgan, ever eager to accuse his opponents of having nefarious motives, used last night’s show to fart out a theory of how misogyny might be behind it all. Our media is indescribably terrible and, as with our government, we probably deserve it.
Anyone want to offer a candidate for most slobbering print coverage of Hillary’s testimony? I’ll nominate WaPo. They started out strong yesterday with Erik Wemple’s piece exploding Hillary’s “what difference does it make?” dodge, but it’s been all downhill from there. A smattering of op-ed headlines since this morning: “Good for Hillary,” “In her Capitol Hill swan song, Hillary Clinton shines,” and “Hillary Clinton’s Capitol Hill tour de force,” in which Chris Cillizza lets it all hang out:
She [got through her testimony] without once making news — in a bad way — on an incredibly sensitive and divisive issue while displaying (in relatively equal measure) sadness, anger, humor and seriousness, not to mention an unquestioned depth of knowledge on the subject matter. And she did so having spent much of the last month out of the public eye as she sought to recover from a concussion and blood clot.
From a pure political performance perspective, it was a masterwork…
Because it feels like Hillary Clinton has always been a part of our public life, it’s easy to overlook just how difficult what she did on Wednesday actually is. But, try this exercise: Imagine anyone else weighing a bid for president in Clinton’s shoes on Wednesday…
Clinton, on the other hand, is like Kobe Bryant. Bryant is not only a unique talent but he’s been around long enough to understand the rhythm of an NBA season, to pick his spots, to figure out different ways to score now that he is older and his athleticism is fading. That’s Clinton.
The “what difference does it make?” line that was brutally fact-checked by Wemple in this same paper isn’t mentioned. Elsewhere, Dana Milbank explains how the testimony “provided a broader vindication of the one-time (and probably future) presidential candidate” while Richard Cohen, himself a Hillary critic in the past, casually wonders if maybe Hillary’s gender isn’t part of what’s driving interrogators like Rand Paul “nuts.” Anyone want to try to top that? I checked the Times cursorily, but I’m willing to give them a pass if only for including this line — an instant classic nearly on par with “fake but accurate” — in their news write-up of her testimony: “In essence, Mrs. Clinton’s approach was to accept the responsibility for security lapses in Benghazi but not the blame.”