Media Pans Clinton Campaign's First Week: Phony, Controlled, and Staged

April 20, 2015

Hillary Clinton ran as the bold frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2008, and the result was a stunning defeat by an upstart Illinois junior senator rather than the coronation she expected.

Her handlers have perhaps learned that putting Clinton front and center for her own campaign might clue voters in to her vast deficiencies as a candidate, whether it be the Clinton Foundation's scandalous acceptance of money from foreign governments, her beleaguered record as secretary of state, or her advanced age.

Thus, her launch last Sunday came in the form of a "substance-free" YouTube video and a tweet before embarking on a folksy van tour to Iowa to meet so-called "everyday Americans" and take essentially no questions from the assembled press.

Clinton's usual media defenders and supporters expressed frustration and derision all week with her attempts at authenticity.

"Hillary Clinton has barely been seen, apparently by design," Nightly News anchor Lester Holt said. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd said she was "desperately" trying not to look presidential.

Clinton fan Andrea Mitchell complained that "this is so controlled" and there were no opportunities to ask her any substantive questions, and liberal pundit Rachel Maddow said Clinton's platform was bland enough that anyone could have unveiled such trivialities as wanting to build "an American economy for the future" and "defend the nation from threats."

Former Democratic congressional candidate and The Cycle co-host Krystal Ball said this listening tour felt "particularly staged and inauthentic."

"She has basically been living in a protective cocoon for 30 years," said political reporter Mike Barnicle.

How hard is Clinton working to not face the media? Look no further than a clip that went viral of press members sprinting after Clinton's van to just get a glimpse of her sneaking in the back of an education center in Monticello.

It got sad enough that news of her eating at an Ohio Chipotle was dissected to its core by Clinton campaign reporters starved for any story. The stupidity of it all got the Daily Show treatment.

MSNBC's Irin Carmon backhand defended Clinton by correctly observing that she probably isn't used to buying things for herself. One of Clinton's campaign mountains to climb is having to talk out of one side of her mouth about closing the income gap while dealing with the reality that she has charged more for speeches than the vast majority of working Americans would make in three years.

Politico called her campaign kickoff "overwhelmingly understated," quoting one top Clinton staffer who said the best part of the week was the Aaron Hernandez murder trial verdict that took further focus off her.