ABC's Jon Karl Swears: New Hillary Documents Are 'Positive' and Not 'Politically Damaging'
Nothing to see here, according to ABC's Jon Karl. The Good Morning America correspondent on Tuesday told viewers that the so-called "Hillary papers," a treasure trove of quotes and documents, are a "positive portrayal" and "none of this appears to be politically damaging." [MP3 audio here.] In contrast, Monday's NBC Nightly News worried that the papers are "brutal" and include "inflammatory excerpts."
CBS This Morning on Tuesday also offered a different take than ABC. In fact, co-host Norah O'Donnell hyped the 40 pages of notes and journals by a deceased Clinton confidant this way: "...A powerful Republican calls it a roadmap to beating Hillary Clinton in 2016." Yet Karl soothingly told viewers, "All told, the papers offer a positive portrayal of Hillary Clinton from one of her closest friends, none of this appears to be politically damaging."
Co-hosts George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts both joked about how the Clintons wouldn't have much interest in discussing the topic. Karl made sure to note that the documents were reported by "the conservative website Washington Free Beacon." On CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes made sure to label "the conservative news site."
When ABC cited the liberal website Talking Points Memo, no ideological distinction was made. On May 16, 2010, Jake Tapper described it simply as a "web site." On another occasion, Linsey Davis mentioned the "online politics website."
Providing more contrast, Cordes on CBS noted that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus "says the material is fair game if Hillary runs in 2016." In a snippet, Priebus asserted, "I think we're going to have a truck load of opposition research on Hillary Clinton."
The documents came from Diane Blair, a friend of Clinton who passed away from cancer in 2000. According to Blair's diary, Mrs. Clinton "reportedly told Blair in 1993, 'Hillary says press has big egos and no brains.'" An on-screen graphic notes the then-first lady "says press has big egos." The part about "no brains" was excised.
Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon wrote:
[Clinton] told Blair that the affair did not include sex "within any real meaning" of the term and noted President Clinton "tried to manage" Monica after they broke up but things spiraled "beyond control."
Cordes included a clip of Jonathan Allen, author of HRC, a new book on the former Senator. According to Cordes, [Allen is] not sure these papers will influence voters but they will help to keep her in the spotlight."
On Monday's Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell huffed that the documents got "little notice until inflammatory excerpts were posted last night on an anti-Clinton website." A sympathetic Mitchell explained, "Hillary Clinton had no comment on a campaign already brutal two years before it's begun."
A partial transcript of the February 11 GMA segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to Washington now and the private papers of a Hillary Clinton confidante. The newly released diary and documents shed new light on Clinton's thinking during what may have been the lowest point of her White House years, the Monica Lewinsky affair and ABC's Jonathan Karl has the details.
JON KARL: For decades, Diane Blair kept a diary chronicling in great detail her friendship with former First Lady Hillary Clinton right up until her death in 2000. But it remained under seal for years and was reported for the first time Monday by the conservative website Washington Free Beacon. Blair's diary portrays Mrs. Clinton as a hard-nosed political operative who is, quote, "in despair that nobody in the White House is tough and mean enough." The papers describe personal conversations Blair writes that she had with Mrs. Clinton during her time in the White House, offering new insight into Hillary Clinton's mind-set immediately after Bill Clinton admitted having an affair with white house intern Monica lewinsky.
BILL CLINTON: Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.
KARL: "It was a lapse," Blair writes, "but she says to his credit he tried to break it off, tried to pull away, tried to manage someone who was clearly a 'narcissistic looney toon" but it was beyond control. Blair also writes about Mrs. Clinton's frustration with critics who called her too aggressive and too political. "I'm a proud woman," Blair quotes Mrs. Clinton saying in 1996. "I know it confuses people when I change my hairdos. I know I should pretend not to have any opinions but I'm not going to. I gave up my name, got contact lenses but I'm not going to pretend to be somebody that I'm not." All told, the papers offer a positive portrayal of Hillary Clinton from one of her closest friends, none of this appears to be politically damaging, and asked to comment on it, Hillary Clinton's spokesperson is simply said no comment. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And they'll probably stick with that for awhile. Jon Karl, thanks very much.
ROBIN ROBERTS: [Laughs.] You think?
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.