I never had a problem with the media’s hands-off attitude with Chelsea Clinton while her father was President. Children of Presidents should be left alone by the media, which might be a good idea even for adult children of Presidents, a position the media most decidedly did not take during George W. Bush’s two terms in office. Nor do I have much of an issue with the adult-age children of former Presidents becoming media figures themselves; Jack Ford and Jenna Bush have both done it, as have Michael and Ron Reagan on opposite sides of the opinion media.
Somehow, though, the hiring of Chelsea Clinton by NBC as a “special correspondent” feels both hypocritical and gimmicky:
The appointment is immediate. Ms. Clinton will show up at the news division offices on Monday morning, said Steve Capus, president of NBC News, and will begin work on stories that NBC expects to use as part of its “Making a Difference” series, which runs on “NBC Nightly News.” …
“What we talked about was if she were to come on board that’s the kind of thing she would be interested in doing. We knew she wasn’t going to do the lead story. But having somebody who was going to do really captivating feature assignments for the ‘Making a Difference’ franchise really kind of synced up,” Mr. Capus said.
Those feature reports, which have become popular on NBC’s evening newscast — and which may be added to NBC’s new prime-time newsmagazine program, “Rock Center With Brian Williams” — spotlight people who are making volunteer commitments to improve the lives of others in their community.
The difference between NBC’s hiring decision here and the other cases of presidential progeny turning into media figures is that the others didn’t demand to be left alone as adults. Two years ago, Chelsea refused to speak to the press, even when the “press” turned out to be a 9-year-old cub reporter for Scholastic News, The Anchoress reminds us:
It’s one thing for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign to turn down interview requests for the candidate’s daughter, Chelsea. But can’t a 9-year old reporter catch a break?
Sydney Rieckhoff, a Cedar Rapids fourth grader and “kid reporter” for Scholastic News, has posed questions to seven Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls as they’ve campaigned across Iowa this year. But when she approached the 27-year-old Chelsea after a campaign event Sunday, she got a different response.
“Do you think your dad would be a good ‘first man’ in the White House?” Sydney asked, but Chelsea brushed her question aside.
“I’m sorry, I don’t talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you’re cute,” Chelsea told the pint-sized journalist.
Now Chelsea wants a gig at NBC, getting people to, er, talk to the press. And it doesn’t appear that her new job has changed her policy much, at least not yet (emphasis mine):
NBC said Chelsea Clinton wasn’t available for an interview, but issued a statement: “People who imagine and implement solutions to challenges in their own lives, in their communities, in our country and in our world have always inspired me.”
I have no problem with people maintaining their privacy from the media, but isn’t this a little like Greta Garbo doing a daytime talk show?