Clinton advance aides create a rope line for the press, moving with the candidate pic.twitter.com/9S7CpVt7x4
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 4, 2015
It was a truly embarrassing spectacle, but not for Hillary Clinton. It was embarrassing for the press, because they willingly allow this nonsense to keep happening. It almost appears as though America’s political media are suffering from something approaching Battered Reporter Syndrome: yeah, she tied us up, but only once; she still respects us.
Hillary’s strategy in the face of an all-too-compliant media makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t she abuse and disrespect them if they’re just going to stand there and take it? She has every reason in the world to keep doing this to them. Thus far, the Clinton campaign’s strategy of either ignoring reporters entirely or using them to broadcast blatantly manipulated nonsense is working pretty well. If campaign reporters are going to allow themselves to be led around like leashed preschoolers on a field trip to the museum, Hillary would be crazy to not treat them like leashed preschoolers on a field trip to the museum.
Precisely. If you want to strain to blame Hillary for the press’s capitulation here, I suppose you could spin their behavior as a product of desperation. She’s spent three months on the trail ducking questions; submitting to the indignity of a moving rope line may be the only way for a reporter to get within shouting distance of asking her something. (Possibly because of the online uproar this weekend over the rope fiasco, Team Hillary’s now vowing that she’ll engage more with the press going forward.) But that doesn’t add up: This was a July 4th parade, surrounded by noise and attended by Hillary only for the pro forma photo op. No one was going to get an answer about her e-mail server shouting at her from 30 feet away behind a rope while she smiled at spectators. This was one of the lowest stakes appearances she’ll make as a candidate, in fact, something that could have been boycotted by the press with no risk of missing out on a newsworthy comment. Instead they submitted to this — for B-roll of her walking and waving. Why?
I’m not even demanding, as Davis is, that they stop covering her entirely until she’s more forthcoming, which is virtuous but unrealistic. I’m asking why they insisted on covering this zero of a public appearance even at the price of being treated like cattle. Is it pro-Democratic bias? Competition among media outlets to not miss a story, even when there’s no actual story? Is it the celebrity factor, the fact that she’s vastly more famous than any other pol in America, Obama excluded? Is it a function of scarcity — i.e. precisely because she’s hidden from the press since April, even the dumbest appearances in public qualify as “news”?
I like this idea on a gut level, but I’m wary:
Marco Rubio should assign handlers with rope to control any NYT reporter covering his events, wait for the outraged howls, and reply "See?"
— Popehat (@Popehat) July 6, 2015
If you want to make the press angry about being treated like animals, have a Republican try it. The question is, if Rubio pulled this same stunt on them and they erupted in indignation, how many outlets would even bother to note that he was merely following Hillary’s lead? Rubio himself would note it and some reporters would note it in passing, but there are ways to make Rubio’s sin seem worse to impressionable voters. Cable news channels could, for instance, note that both candidates had treated the media this way while only showing footage of Rubio’s rope line. They could invent distinctions to explain why it’s sort of understandable when Hillary does it but not when Rubio does (“the crush of media is worse for her,” “she’s already given hundreds of press interviews during her career while the newbie senator hasn’t”). Essentially, encouraging the GOP to pull this same tactic, even purely as a demonstration of how bizarre and untoward Hillary’s tactics are, might give the media too much credit in thinking they’d appreciate it. They might actually use it against us.
Update: Just a suggestion.
Hillary should choose two reporters at random from the pool to wrestle, with the winner granted an exclusive interview
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) July 6, 2015