Hillary Clinton Goes Beastmode on the Press
Over the last several weeks, I’ve learned that the press is annoyed with Secretary Clinton for not holding a press conference. It’s (no surprise) being held up as a failing of the presidential candidate.
It’s true I am a happy and enthusiastic Clinton supporter, but nonetheless, I have seen the candidate frequently on national news and am well acquainted with a variety of sources of information about her campaign, her positions on issues, and how her candidacy differs from that of Mr. Trump. I’ve frequently visited the library of thought-provoking ads produced as part of the excellent series, “The Briefing”. I’ve seen news articles, op eds from people I respect, videos, and guest appearances on shows like The Late Show with Steven Colbert. I belong to multiple Facebook groups that support her, follow circles on Google Plus focused on her candidacy, and my twitter timeline is about one quarter Clinton politics. So I see lots of information that allows me to judge her candidacy, compare hers to Trump’s, and decide for myself how the latest news affects my estimation of her as a candidate for President.
All the while, members of the press are whining about her not having a press conference, going so far as to keep a “No Press Conference” countdown clock.
Mrs. Clinton has suffered under the scrutiny of the press for her entire adult life. Despite having committed her life to public service, media coverage of her has been overwhelmingly negative. In this election season, she has received the most negative coverage of any candidate – and that’s in a field where the GOP candidate has repeatedly and enthusiastically attacked Americans based on their gender, race, religion, and disability. Clinton supporters on twitter started the hashtag #HillaryCoverageCrap to draw attention to the depths to which media were willing to go to generate traffic by negative reporting on Clinton. Considering how rarely she is portrayed positively or even fairly by the press, I am not sure how they can be surprised that she takes care to shape her interactions with the media.
This situation reminds me a lot of a similar situation over the last few years with another individual that I treasure and respect: Marshawn Lynch, Super Bowl champion, recently retired from the Seattle Seahawks. Mr. Lynch achieved notoriety for his disdain for talking to the press. After he was fined by the NFL for not talking, he answered every question in a locker room availability with a variation on “Thank you for asking”. He gave an entire interview at the Super Bowl that consisted of him answering every question with “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”
I have not seen a statement by Lynch of why he was so resistant to press availability. My guess would be a combination of two factors: reaction to unfavorable press and anxiety. When I saw discussions of how Lynch was being disrespectful of the sports media by refusing to talk to them, I have to admit, I kept thinking if I was surrounded by a pack of reporters, my back against the wall, as they shoved cameras and microphones into my face, I’m pretty sure my reaction would have been to fight my way out. Members of the media are probably lucky that Marshawn chose the “flight” response and not the “fight” response. (Which incidentally reminds me of my favorite suggestion regarding Lynch giving interviews to the press – I always figured he should offer to give an exclusive to any member of the press who could tackle him. But I digress.) Lynch didn’t give press conferences to the liking of sports media, they whined, and Lynch got backed into a corner.
When making their case for Lynch to participate in press conferences, the media tried to argue that for him to talk to the press was important for the fans. Lynch knew better. He knew that the Seahawks 12s loved him for who he was, quirks and all. The 12s knew that in addition to his powerful contributions on the football field, he was a leader among his teammates, and he was a loyal and loving son of his hometown Oakland, California. And the fans could see what apparently the press or the NFL Commissioner could not: talking to the media caused him severe anxiety. The fans didn’t need to see press interviews, they knew he was “All about that action, boss!”
So here we are. Except this time it’s Secretary Clinton who’s under scrutiny. And it’s members of the national news media who are whining about her not giving interviews. Happily, Clinton doesn’t work for the NFL, doesn’t have to cajole the press, and she won’t get fined by the NFL Commissioner. And despite what precious members of the media think, we don’t need for her to hold a press conference to know she’s “All about that action, boss!”