Bill Clinton’s Critics Are…Who, Exactly?

clinton-legacyThe sense that economic populism is becoming a bigger issue in the Democratic party base is making some centrist Democrats nervous. And one in particular, former President Bill Clinton, is apparently doing a lot to try and spin his legacy.

The New York Times covered his efforts with a big May 1 piece headlined “Bill Clinton Defends His Economic Legacy.” But while Clinton seems to be arguing with someone about his policy record, the paper doesn’t give readers any sense of who these critics might be.

Readers get plenty of quotes from Clinton himself, and Times reporter Amy Chozick tries to characterize his policies, writing that he “forged a new model of a pro-business, pragmatic Democrat who championed public-private partnerships and open markets.”

In addition to quotes from a recent Clinton speech and some off-the-cuff complaints he’s made, readers hear from Burns Strider, who runs a group dedicated to promoting Hillary Clinton; former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta; and former Clinton adviser Al From.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is the only person quoted who might have some critical appraisal of Clinton’s record to share, but he’s in the mix only to discuss a letter to Hillary Clinton about Walmart.

The Times is obviously aware of the existence of critics to Clinton’s left. Chozick mentions that some argue that Clinton’s policies “might have exacerbated the current inequality,” and writes that “some policy experts argue that the era of centrist Clinton economics may have expired.” But instead of quoting them, the Times goes back to Bill Clinton, one more time, for a challenge to that argument.

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.