Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

NBC: Hard for Clinton to Be Successful Secretary of State After 'Crisis the Obama Team Inherited'

The headline NBC chose promote from chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell's Tuesday interview with outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was that Clinton really couldn't accomplish much given the situation she "inherited" from the Bush administration, with Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaiming: "...[Clinton] said, among other things, it's tougher these days to pull off the sweeping diplomatic achievements of the old days." [Listen to the audio]

On Wednesday's Today, Mitchell parroted Clinton's talking points: "Clinton told me that it is hard for her to imagine waking up next week with no place to go, after four years and almost a million miles circling the globe. Hillary Clinton said the traditional way of doing diplomacy was not good enough for the crisis the Obama team inherited."

In the sound bite that followed, Clinton argued: "We had an overwhelming imperative to restore American leadership. It was in question, and it was, in part, because of political decisions that had been made prior to the Obama administration, but also because of the economic crisis."

At the top of her Nightly News report on the interview, Mitchell, like Williams, highlighted Clinton's excuse for not being more successful during her tenure at the State Department: "Clinton said today that her first challenge taking over was to restore the world's confidence in America's leadership, but she did acknowledge that it is tougher in the current world to achieve those big breakthroughs, as some of her predecessors did."

In the sound bite that followed that introduction, Clinton seemed to blame social media for her lack of success: "I've kidded our mutual friend, Henry Kissinger, think of how impossible it would have been for him to sneak off to China in an age of cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, everything else?"

The headline NBC could have used to promote the exit interview was Clinton admitting failures with regard to the terrorist attack in Benghazi. To her credit, Mitchell wondered: "What do you think didn't go well? What went wrong?" Clinton responded: "Well, Benghazi went wrong. You know, that was a terrible example of trying to get the right balance between being in a threatening place or not being there."

Mitchell had a challenging follow-up: "But in retrospect, shouldn't a cable warning of a security threat from an ambassador in a conflict zone, shouldn't that get the highest possible attention immediately?" Clinton replied: "Well, that's what we're hoping to make sure does happen in the future. The security professionals get it right far more than they get it wrong."

Unfortunately, that was where the tough line of questioning ended.

The remainder of the interview focused on Clinton's health and her presidential aspirations in 2016:

When that phone call rings at 3:00 in the morning, who should – who's best prepared to answer it in 2016?...will health be a factor in deciding whether to run again?...do you feel that – that Joe Biden, as the vice president, has the right of first refusal, as it were, within the party, or is it an open competition if you decide to run?

Here is a full transcript of Mitchell's January 30 report on Today:

7:13AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And now to Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down this week as secretary of state amid a lot of speculation about her political future. She sat down for an exit interview with NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, who's here with us. Andrea, good morning to you.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good to be with you, Savannah. Hillary Clinton told me that it is hard for her to imagine waking up next week with no place to go, after four years and almost a million miles circling the globe. Hillary Clinton said the traditional way of doing diplomacy was not good enough for the crisis the Obama team inherited.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Exit Interview; Hillary Clinton On Life After Secretary of State]

HILLARY CLINTON: We had an overwhelming imperative to restore American leadership. It was in question, and it was, in part, because of political decisions that had been made prior to the Obama administration, but also because of the economic crisis.

MITCHELL: From the war on terror to the Arab Spring, they faced upheavals around the world. What went wrong?

CLINTON: Well, Benghazi went wrong. You know, that was a terrible example of trying to get the right balance between being in a threatening place or not being there.

MITCHELL: But in retrospect, shouldn't a cable warning of a security threat from an ambassador in a conflict zone, shouldn't that get the highest possible attention immediately?

CLINTON: Well, that's what we're hoping to make sure does happen in the future.

MITCHELL: She made progress, though fragile, on her lifelong commitment to equal rights for women and girls.

CLINTON: And I worry particularly about extremist groups, fanatics who shoot, you know, teenage girls because they want to go to school.

MITCHELL: But work for the non-stop Clinton came to a halt when she fell, suffered a concussion, a blood clot, and eye damage temporarily requiring special glasses. Will health be a factor in deciding whether to run for president again?

CLINTON: I'm healthy enough and my stamina is great enough and I'll be fully recovered to do whatever I choose to do, but I don't have any decisions made.

MITCHELL: Are you convinced that that fall was caused by dehydration? Have your doctors ruled out any vascular event?

CLINTON: It was a virus. I had a vicious viral attack that, you know, caused all of the unpleasant things that viruses can cause.

MITCHELL: In 2011, when Savannah asked her about running again:

GUTHRIE: Will you run for president in 2016?

CLINTON: No. No. You know, Savannah, I'm very privileged to have had the opportunities to serve my country and I am really old fashioned. I feel like I've made my contribution.

MITCHELL: This time, Clinton was not closing the door. Do you feel that Joe Biden, as the vice president, has the right of first refusal, as it were, within in the party? Or is it an open competition, if you decide to run?

CLINTON: American politics is always an open competition, but I have no – you know, I have no position on any of this. I have no opinion about it. I'm still secretary of state. I can't really engage in politics. And you know, for the foreseeable future, I don't think that I will be at all political.

MITCHELL: Today, Clinton has a farewell lunch with the President at the White House. And he could eventually have to choose between Clinton and Joe Biden if both decide to run for the presidency. For now Clinton says she will write a book, work on women's issues and the Clinton Foundation, and get that extra sleep. Something you can relate to, Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we'll continue to ask her the question and I guess she'll continue to dodge for the moment. Andrea, thanks so much.

MITCHELL: You bet.