Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Obama, Clinton on 60 Minutes; unfortunately Clinton drew Katie Couric and the chance at a substantial interview was gone

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Originally published on on Mon, 02/11/2008 – 10:17am

I skipped the Grammys again this year. The Milli Vanilli farce tainted my interest in the ceremonies for life.

Though congratulations to Barack Obama for winning his second overall spoken word Grammy for the audiobook version of “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.” And yes, one of the other nominees for this year was Bill Clinton.

But I did catch “60 Minutes” with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, a segment on the high cost of making pennies and nickels, and of course, Andy Rooney.

The program did invite John McCain, but he declined due to scheduling. But it was a great opportunity to showcase the two top Democratic contenders. The premise was that the interviewers would follow them around the week of Super Tuesday.

Barack Obama drew Steve Kroft, who generally gets the top billing as the reporters run down their names in the open to the show. Kroft painted a contrast between Obama now vs. one year ago when 60 Minutes had interviewed him before.

Kroft asked him about experience, and Obama shifted the thought to one of longevity, which seemed not so much a crack at Clinton but John McCain.

Kroft also asked about the lack of specifics (which didn’t really bother journalists about Bush in 2000). Obama came back well and noted that early on, he was considered too professorial in his speeches. Obama also did a nice job by turning it on Kroft, and asking for Kroft to ask him specifics.

Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, she drew Katie Couric. I confess that I have never been a fan of Couric, but this interview was an embarrassment to Couric. Clinton did quite well given the inane nature of the questions.

Couric’s first question was along the lines of “Have you grappled with the idea that it could be him and not you?” with two follow-ups. The next line of questioning was on stamina.

Clinton ended up sharing her secrets about staying in shape: she takes vitamins, drinks tea not coffee, has stopped drinking diet drinks, and drinks tons of water. She also noted that the two main things she does is wash your hands with a sanitizer and eating hot peppers, a ritual she started in 1992.

The whole exchange smacked of the chocolate-chip cookies issue in 1992. I really felt sorry for Clinton that she drew Katie Couric’s “everything is about me” sense of journalism.

Couric also noted that her staff also seemed sleep-deprived. Well, any major presidential campaign would have sleep-deprived people. Does Couric think John McCain’s staff is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?

Clinton gained an advantage when Couric asked Clinton to respond to a statement Obama made in Kroft’s piece on Clinton representing the status quo. Obama didn’t get that luxury.

In the piece, Clinton spoke in front of a high school audience. So Couric took the opportunity to ask Clinton “relevant” questions such as “What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?” and “Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?”

Obama got a professional interview, certainly not in a Mike Wallace 1970s kind of way, but as good an interview situation as 60 Minutes does in 2008. Clinton was subjected to questions that didn’t belong in an interview of a presidential candidate in the heart of the primary season.

Is it misogynist to assign a female reporter to question the female candidate? Perhaps that question would also have come up if Lesley Stahl would have interviewed Clinton. But Stahl would have asked much better questions than Couric. And if a male reporter had asked Clinton the inane questions Couric came up with, he would have been labeled as misogynist and justifiably mocked and criticized.

The two presidential candidates should have been treated with the same level of professionalism. Unfortunately, CBS News treated Clinton poorly and didn’t give her the same shot to shine as Obama got.

Hillary Clinton deserved a 60 Minutes interview worthy of a presidential candidate. In the spirit of do-overs, maybe she should get a real interview. Oh, and if John McCain decides to not be afraid and have 60 Minutes follow him for a story, make sure Katie is distracted that day.


Written by democracysoup

February 11, 2008 at 10:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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