Hillary Clinton and ‘Celebrity Coverage’

The dominant story from Hillary Clinton’s trip to Africa was not her comments about combating rape and sexual violence in Congo. No, the top story was Clinton’s testy response to a question about what her husband thought of Chinese business interests in Kenya Congo.

That exchange prompted a whole story in today’s New York Times by Jeffrey Gettleman (“Clinton’s Flash of Pique in Congo“). While that’s already kind of sad, it turns out that the questioner misspoke; he actually meant to ask what Barack Obama thought of these deals. But either way, apparently, you get to psychoanalyze Hillary Clinton:

After the forum, her aides told the traveling press corps that there might have been a mistranslation, and that the student actually wanted to know the opinion of her boss, not her husband. But that interpretation did not dispel the controversy either, since it gave new life to the nagging question of whether Mrs. Clinton felt marginalized in the Obama administration.

See? If the question was really about Obama, you can take the answer she gave to the question about her husband and use it to gauge her true feelings about her role in the Obama administration. Neat trick.

Gettleman’s piece concludes:

No matter the issues she was talking about–encouraging good governing, ending Africa’s wars, lifting women up from their lowly position in a place like Congo. The interest in this trip, it seemed, was not about the problems facing Africa. It was about her.

As one journalist covering her trip put it: “She is a celebrity. We have a celebrity secretary of state. When you have a celebrity, you get celebrity coverage.”

Well, it’s nice to know that journalists covering U.S. foreign policy see their jobs this way.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.