Press Biased Against Hillary Clinton?

Bob Somerby, Matt Yglesias, Garance Franke-Ruta, Greg Sargent, and Kevin Drum agree that the press is horribly unfair to Hillary Clinton, holding her to a much higher standard of intellectual consistency and integrity than is expected of other politicians.

No, really.

The crux of the complaint, initiated in this instance by GFR, is that Barack Obama is being lauded for courage for taking a position on Iran that is rather similar to a position for which Hillary Clinton is taking flack. This is somewhat diffused, however, by the fact that none of the people cited as praising Obama criticize Clinton (except perhaps by omission in one instance) and none of those attacking Clinton are praising Obama.

In the more general sense, it strikes me that Clinton is being treated no worse by the press and her opponents than any other frontrunner in recent memory and no worse by her critics in the blogosphere this go-round than Rudy Giuliani or John McCain and better than Mitt Romney or, goodness knows, Dennis Kucinich.

Clinton is constantly lauded in the press for her brilliance, discipline, and work ethic. Aside from the more obscure elements of the conservative blogosphere, the scandals of her pre-Senate tenure are seldom mentioned. That she is eminently qualified to serve as president is simply presumed, despite a complete lack of executive experience and having served only one term as a Senator, to which she was elected almost entirely on the force of the celebrity she gained from being married to Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has been a polarizing figure her entire career and is now the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination and favored to win the presidency in 2008. That, quite naturally, puts the spotlight on her. She’s the candidate her Democratic opponents and their supporters will train their fire on. She’s also the natural whipping gal of the Republicans.

It won’t get any easier from here on out. Indeed, it’s barely started.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Media, The Presidency, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    No, really.

    That’s gotta be the laugh of the day, James.
    Thanks for it.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I’d say the posts are a trifle more focused than that, James. They appear to be complaining that the press has been tough on HRC on Iran although her stance on the subject isn’t notably different from that of Edwards or Obama. Where I disagree with their point is in the reference to “Clinton rules”.

    I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I think that the press can’t forgive HRC for a) voting in favor of the AUMF and b) not calling for withdrawing from Iraq immediately. Otherwise, she’d already have been canonized.

  3. It is a shame that I lack the ability possessed by Bob Somerby, Matt Yglesias, Garance Franke-Ruta, Greg Sargent, and Kevin Drum to see the political brilliance that radiates from Ms. Clinton’s very being. I’m trying, really I am, but it just isn’t happening. Maybe I need more cowbell, or Kool-Aid, or something.

  4. The “media” treatment of Hillary Clinton may seem harsh due to the relatively neutral treatment of Giuliani and the unqualified adoration previously afforded Obama. Those who ardently support Hillary would find any criticism harsh.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Dave: Agreed that the Iran issue is the launching point for these posts but the statements are much more broad-based than that.

    GFR begins: “I have, over the past few months, found myself in the increasingly uncomfortable position of being one of the few people who writes for a lefty blog willing to say anything nice about Hillary Clinton. This is not because I have any special affection for Clinton, whom I have never met or interviewed, but because the attacks on her are often so floridly off-base or flat out wrong that it offends my sense of fair play.”

    Sargent’s post is entitled Patrick Healy’s Over-The-Top Coverage Of Hillary Continues”

    Yglesias begins: “It’s quite true as GFR and Greg Sargent point out that Hillary Clinton, like her husband, seems to get uniquely bad treatment at the hands of the MSM.”

    Drum jumps off on the specific Iran thing from GFR’s post without any caveat.

  6. floyd says:

    She’s a “media darling”. Absolutely no doubt.

  7. Bandit says:

    You can sum up her accomplishments in the middle of a donut.