What does the Times have against Hillary?

I was amazed that on today’s New York Times front page, I couldn’t find a mention of Hillary Clinton’s victory in Florida — not even a reefer (jargon for a promo box), not a by-the-way paragraph inserted into the Republican story, not a news peg added into a story about 527 groups advertising on behalf of Obama (a positive story for him, nonetheless, since they say he’s working hard to repudiate them while they say Clinton is not). It’s the same story online: other than a line in the chart of results, there’s a mention of Clinton’s win only below the fold (that is, the first screen), in smaller type, under the label “more politics.”

I went to the Times Square newstand to look at the Washington Post. Clinton’s victory is right at the top of the page aside McCain’s. I would call that proper news judgment.

Yes, it’s true that Clinton officially won no delegates because the Democratic Party is punishing Florida. But that, itself, is a story: There’s a huge turnout in Florida for votes that supposedly don’t count. Where’s the outrage about disenfranchising these voters; it’s an undemocratic, unDemocratic, unconstitutional, and — considering Florida’s importance in November — just plain politically dumb move by the party. But the Times relegated the story to the bottom of page A16.

If I were a communications student, I’d be doing an analysis of the Times’ coverage of Clinton. There is a pattern here.

(Disclosure: I’ve said before and will repeat that I’m planning to vote for Clinton on SuperTuesday.)

  • Doug

    Re: Your disclosure….Republicans across the country will thank you come November ;-)

  • TechNomad

    You’re kidding right?

    The Florida primary for Democrats is a non-story. How is a ‘win’ in a state where no democrat campaigned and nothing was at stake even a story? It’s a brand name popularity contest and right now the Clinton brand is better known — if increasingly tarnished by Bill Clinton.

    Full Disclosure: I voted for Bill twice. This time I’m voting for Obama.

  • I agree with you that the Times does have a little thing with Clinton, but I think you’re blowing it out of proportion a little. For starters, the Times endorsed Clinton and had a callout box on the front page of their Web site for a day with her picture and a link to that.

    Also since the race wasn’t contested wouldn’t a story on Clinton play into her publicity stunt “victory” speech? I feel like there was very little real news on the Democratic side in Florida, other than PR stuff.

    Disclosure: I’m leaning towards Obama and have been pretty disappointed in how the Clinton’s have handled their campaign.

  • There was more of a focus on her win last night online.

    That said, I agree it sucks that Florida’s race doesn’t count, but that’s arguably the fault of the state party, not the DNC. Regarding the turnout – yes it was very good – though I read several accounts from Floridians claiming that the reason was some serious tax initiative on the ballot, but no one else is reporting that, so I don’t know. It seems plausible to me, though, but it doesn’t fit in with the coverage of the race as “so exciting! so contentious! look at the turnout!”

    I am an Obama supporter, so take this with a grain of salt (as I take your comments with the same), but from my perspective, the Times (and other news agencies) was right to downplay her “victory.” Not necessarily because of its meaninglessness, but because Hillary’s focus on the state after losing SC (and never before), and her “victory party” were both clearly political moves meant to grab some momentum away from Obama any way possible. By covering this as a win and giving her front page publicity in a race that neither counts nor was ever actually even run is irresponsible journalism as it fails to acknowledge the particularities of the moment and buys into the show put on by the Clinton campaign.

    You might not believe me, but I would feel absolutely the same way if Obama had pulled a similar stunt. The right time to get upset about Florida’s disenfranchisement was months ago when the decision to penalize them was made. And as it is a large and important state – it would be great if there were a way to hold an actual and proper contest there after Super Tuesday, but I can’t see that happening. Sad, yes. But so is piggybacking on the state’s woes at the last minute in order to get some publicity.

  • The Times editorial page endorsed Clinton last week. It would seem that the paper is having a bit of an internal debate on what position to take.

    This sort of mirrors what is going on elsewhere (even within many individuals).

    They did have an article on Bill in NJ, maybe they felt that was enough Clinton news for one day…

  • Dan

    I like the new disclosure…(Disclosure: I’ve said before and will repeat that I’m planning to vote for Clinton on SuperTuesday.) I appreciate that. I agree with Kevin, the website had pretty large headlines last night, equally large to the McCain win for awhile. But I check later in the evening, and it became smaller. Checking right now, it is a headline article on the front page under More Politics as you mentioned, but in my mind this is a pretty big nod as the front picture and story is of Edwards dropping out, and the McCain / Guliani news.

  • Jeff Jarvis –

    The Democratic National Committee has a right to decide how the Democratic nominee for president is chosen.

    The DNC decided that only four states could vote before Feb. 5, 2008.

    How should the DNC enforce its rules if not by saying that states which break the rules don’t get delegates?

  • how about the voters deciding, eric? this is disenfranchising them. it is, i repeat, undemocratic and shameful.

  • So, nobody campaigns there and no delegates are at stake and the “winner” is news? Please. The story is that Hillary began clumsily groping for Florida delegates after her crushing SC loss. The story is that she, at the very least, is reneging in spirit on her promise to bypass Florida during the primaries. And guess what? She promised that a long time ago, when her chance to express “outrage about disenfranchising these voters” might not have seemed so self-serving. Guess what else? These voters won’t be disenfranchised when it really counts next November. I bet Hillary didn’t forget that when she made out her social calendar last night …

    I think you are showing your stripes here. Hillary is still the presumptive favorite and in any other year I’d be with you. But questioning the objectivity of those outlets which placed minimal or no news value on Hillary’s Florida “win” strikes me as decidedly unobjective.

  • Jeff Jarvis –

    Are you saying that the DNC should just let every state have its primary whenever it wants?

  • TechNomad

    This, I think is a balanced view, from Talking Points Memo on how the MSM is reacting to the Florida Primary:

    “For the Democrats, the big question tonight was how the press would play Hillary Clinton’s ‘win’ in Florida, or how successfully she could spin the result to count as a landslide victory on a par with Obama’s big win in South Carolina. The final number seems to be Hillary 50%, Obama 33%, Edwards 14% which, in numerical terms, is a trouncing, even it doesn’t match the spread in South Carolina.

    Just judging from the cable news we watched this evening and how the major newspapers are playing it on their websites, it doesn’t look like they get much of a pop. Most of the website front pages of the newspapers I’m looking at either don’t mention the Democratic result out of Florida or put it under the fold with some conspicuous notation that the ‘win’ had not delegates. Nor, at least in the headlines I’m seeing, does there seem to be any real mention of the margin of her win, which was substantial. For the record I’m looking at the Boston Globe, New York Times, WaPo, USAToday, Dallas Morning News, LATimes, Stl. Post-Dispatch and others. The standard seems to be some form of the Post-Dispatch’s small related item “Clinton wins primary but no delegates.” In the Post, there’s a snarky piece by Dana Milbank: “Much Ado About No Delegates: The only piece missing from Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Florida victory party Tuesday night was a victory.” Ouch. CNN has a small related headline: “Clinton trumpets win with no delegates at stake.”

    Just in terms of managing the news cycle I think what the Clinton folks would have been looking for are two things — big pictures of Hillary smiling, preferably above the fold, thus suggesting victory and some mention of her margin. But I don’t see either anywhere.

    Perhaps the print front pages will play this differently. But on balance I suspect they didn’t get as much juice out of this as they wanted or expected.”

    Link: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/065201.php

  • Peter Hoh

    If the DNC’s decision is such an outrage, why wasn’t this a big issue back when the decision was announced?

  • Dude let me break it down for you. The Clintons tried to stop the college students of Iowa from voting, Then when they thought they will losing in New hampshire the complained about the two elections been to close that they agreed to, then in Neveda they sent their surrogates in to court to try and stop casino workers from voting in the casino that they agreed to months ago, then in South Carolina they made it about race to tarnish Obama’s win there, and she go to Florida to have a victory speech when she agreed months ago it would not count. NOW DO YOU SEE A PATTERN BY THE CLINTONS YES JUST LIKE THE 90’S. NO INTEGRITY, LIARS AND CHEATS. THEY WILL WIN BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. NOW THEY CAN NOT BE TRUSTED WHEN THEY GE TIN THE WHITE HOUSE THEY ARE SHOWING THAT NOW. Hillary’s qoute ” you know how you can tell what a person is going to do in the future is from what they have done in the past”. I AGREE ENOUGH SAID.

  • Ryan

    While unfortunate, yesterday’s contest in Florida was devoid of meaning. Thus, the Times made the correct news judgment. To give it more than a passing glance would have played into the ridiculous, laughable antics of the Clinton campaign. Every state that has voted thus far has shown the exact same pattern — Clinton winning big in the polls until Obama campaigns. Now, with the state’s demographics — older, Hispanic, etc — I do believe Clinton would have likely won Florida by a healthy (6-8%, probably) margin. But the candidates agreed not to campaign there, making it little more than a “beauty contest.”

    If you want to discuss the disenfranchisement of Florida, that’s fine. But that’s the Florida Democratic party’s fault (or, I suppose, the national DNC if you take an excessively permissive view of such behavior). And if the Clinton campaign wanted to make Florida “count,” they shouldn’t have signed the pledge to strip it of its delegates. It’s really not very complicated.

    (Full disclosure: Obama supporter; would not vote for Clinton under any circumstances due to her/their complete lack of integrity)

  • tobe berkovitz

    MSM insider press coverage is always cyclical. They put a candidate on a pedestal (flavor of the month) then knock them off. Just think, The Big Coaster at 6 Flags. Up and down. The press kissed Hillary’s butt for months. Then there was Obama-rama. Then they laid into Hillaryland. Next step anti-Obama-rama 2. “So it goes.”

  • The real story here, that seemed to lack widespread coverage, is that the primary dates have become more about the money than democracy. Having the earliest primary brings millions of dollars into the New Hampshire economy that otherwise would get overlooked. Other states have wanted to play a larger role for years and Florida took a risk to try and increase their import – failing miserably.

    The real undemocratic feat here is that all states don’t vote at the same time. No one in California ever got a chance to vote for Edwards, Guiliani or any of the other candidates that dropped out of the race. Disenfranchising the Florida voters is a foot note in this larger issue.

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  • Just an observation:
    The dailykos conducted an online poll of its readers yesterday and the results were 76% Obama, 11% Clinton.

    The predictable result of such partisanship has been that the site has become more like a fanzine and less like a place to discuss the election (or anything else).

    Since Jeff Jarvis is a big fan of online communities it will be interesting to see how mob rule develops online. We probably won’t see fans getting to brawls as they do in Europe after soccer matches, but the vocal equivalent is rapidly developing.

  • @Eric Jaffa

    “Jeff Jarvis –

    Are you saying that the DNC should just let every state have its primary whenever it wants?”

    Yes he’s saying that. Because it suits the interests of his candidate. Jeff plainly admits he makes absolutely no effort at objectivity. Its clear, of course that if Obama had won he would have called any coverage of it “shameful”. As was made abundantly clear when he declared that Obama was “playing the race card”, even in the face of an entire democratic party that had recoiled at Clinton’s behavior, Jarvis has gone off the deep end. I am expecting smoke to come out of his ears and his head to do a full 360 any minute now.

    Disclosure: this comes from someone who will be voting for Obama, who has voted for Bill or Hillary every time before when they have run, and who up until the Andrew Sullivan article of a month or so ago about Obama, was undecided.

  • Greg

    They endorsed her, so there’s no institutional agenda against her. And yes, the party system is screwed up, but it’s hard to complain about disenfranchised voters. They’re not voting for president, after all, they’re voting for their party’s nominee. If they don’t like it, they should leave the party.

  • Jeff, it is rather ironic, that to paraphrase John Kerry, Hillary was for what you characterize as “undemocratic, unDemocratic, unconstitutional” before she was against it. Just as she was for the Nevada scheme before she filed a lawsuit.

    I agree with Hank Williams – Jeff, you started down an advocacy road with the “playing the race card” post, now this.

    Full disclosure: I worked for Bill Clinton’s 1st campaign, have voiced admiration for both Clintons 12 years ago – and deeply regret that. I will vote for Obama in the Texas primary and hope to vote for him for President. If it is Clinton vs. McCain, I fear I will vote for my first Repub.

  • There is a disconnect between the Editorial page and the New York Times newspaper

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  • While definitely ridiculous, arguable undemocratic, and most certainly just plain silly, it’s not anywhere close to “unconstitutional.” Unless there’s something I missed during Schoolhouse Rock.

    This is also why there should be one single, national primary day. Doing so haphazard is expensive for candidates, difficult for voters, and put too much emphasis on un-representative states like Iowa.

    Yes, that could mean some states get ignored because candidates may focus on the big-delegate states instead of the middle-to-smaller states. But that’s kinda what happens anyway.

    Just a thought …

    (And since everyone is doing it: I was going to vote for Edwards. Not sure who I will now. If only Feingold would run some day … )

  • SAMG

    I think that one should be careful of accusing a newspaper, or any type of news media, to not having “proper news judgement”, or even implying a motive for not presenting a certain topic as blatantly as others. Not to say that this is not a possibility, but it would be like opening pandora’s box. In the realm of media coverage, there will be many news sources in which a person would be vexed as to why it would or wouldn’t cover certain issues as others. However, if one wants to point it out, or accuse, and make others take notice, one will need a long list of facts to prove it. Has the newspaper done so with other democratic presidential candidates in it’s history? Or any other candidate in general?
    I feel like you are bringing up a good point, and it is wise to present such an issue. Perhaps you can show more evidence! I think then you will have an even stronger point.

  • mariana

    This is directed to the women who voted for Hillary and the ones sitting on the fence for the upcoming primaries. I’m a 53 year old white woman who would love to see a woman in office. However, not this one. She is too self absorbed and will put her ambitions ahead of any objectives we need to move this country forward. As evidenced in the first primaries, the Clintons will run our country as a couple so don’t be fooled. Women who vote based on gender need to be true to themselves and our country. The women who have voted did so intellectually. If she is the nominee for the Democratic party, the intelligent women will run to McCain and this will not be good for the Democratic party. Do you want more of this in the White House:
    Hillary Clinton has been telling America that she is the most qualified candidate for president based on her ‘record,’ which she says includes her eight years in the White House as First Lady – or ‘co-president’ – and her seven years in the Senate. Here is a reminder of what that record includes: – As First Lady, Hillary assumed authority over Health Care Reform, a process that cost the taxpayers over $13 million. She told both Bill Bradley and Patrick Moynihan, key votes needed to pass her legislation, that she would ‘demonize’ anyone who opposed it. But it was opposed; she couldn’t even get it to a vote in a Congress controlled by her own party. (And in the next election, her party lost control of both the House and Senate.) – Hillary assumed authority over selecting a female Attorney General. Her first two recommendations, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, were forced to withdraw their names from consideration. She then chose Janet Reno. Janet Reno has since been described by Bill himself as ‘my worst mistake.’ – Hillary recommended Lani Guanier for head of the Civil Rights Commission. When Guanier’s radical views became known, her name had to be withdrawn. – Hillary recommended her former law partners, Web Hubbell, Vince Foster, and William Kennedy for positions in the Justice Department, White House staff, and the Treasury, respectively. Hubbell was later imprisoned, Foster committed suicide, and Kennedy was forced to resign. – Hillary also recommended a close friend of the Clintons, Craig Livingstone, for the position of director of White House security. When Livingstone was investigated for the improper access of up to 900 FBI files of Clinton enemies (“Filegate”) and the widespread use of drugs by White House staff, both Hillary and her husband denied knowing him. FBI agent Dennis Sculimbrene confirmed in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 1996, both the drug use and Hillary’s involvement in hiring Livingstone. After that, the FBI closed its White House Liaison Office, after serving seven presidents for over thirty years. – In order to open “slots” in the White House for her friends the Thomasons (to whom millions of dollars in travel contracts could be awarded), Hillary had the entire staff of the White House Travel Office fired; they were reported to the FBI for ‘gross mismanagement’ and their reputations ruined. After a thirty-month investigation, only one, Billy Dale, was charged with a crime – mixing personal money with White House funds when he cashed checks. The jury acquitted him in less than two hours. – Another of Hil lary’s assumed duties was directing the ‘bimbo eruption squad’ and scandal defense: —- She urged her husband not to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit. —- She refused to release the Whitewater documents, which led to the appointment of Ken Starr as Special Prosecutor. After $80 million dollars of taxpayer money was spent, Starr’s investigation led to Monica Lewinsky, which led to Bill lying about and later admitting his affairs. —- Then they had to settle with Paula Jones after all. —- And Bill lost his law license for lying to the grand jury —- And Bill was impeached by the House. —- And Hillary almost got herself indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice (she avoided it mostly because she repeated, ‘I do not recall,’ ‘I have no recollection,’ and ‘I don’t know’ 56 times under oath). – Hillary wrote ‘It Takes a Village,’ demonstrating her Socialist viewpoint. – Hill ary decided to seek election to the Senate in a state she had never lived in. Her husband pardoned FALN terrorists in order to get Latino support and the New Square Hassidim to get Jewish support. Hillary also had Bill pardon her brother’s clients, for a small fee, to get financial support. – Then Hillary left the White House, but later had to return $200,000 in White House furniture, china, and artwork she had stolen. – In the campaign for the Senate, Hillary played the ‘woman card’ by portraying her opponent (Lazio) as a bully picking on her. – Hillary’s husband further protected her by asking the National Archives to withhold from the public until 2012 many records of their time in the White House, including much of Hillary’s correspondence and her calendars. (There are ongoing lawsuits to force the release of those records.) – As the junior Senator from New York, Hillary has passed no major legislation. She has deferred to the senior Senator (Schumer) to tend to the needs of New Yorkers, even on the hot issue of medical problems of workers involved in the cleanup of Ground Zero after 9/11. – Hillary’s one notable vote; supporting the plan to invade Iraq, she has since disavowed. Quite a resume’. Sounds more like an organized crime family’s rap sheet.

  • Unconstitutional? I don’t see what control the constitution has over how a private organization decides who its public face will be.

    That’s like complaining that Hanes didn’t poll all of its employees before making Cuba Gooding Jr and Michael Jordon its celebrity spokespeople.

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