January 23rd, 2008
09:00 PM ET
8 years ago

Bill Clinton gets upset with CNN reporter

CNN

Bill Clinton got visibly upset with CNN's Jessica Yellin Wednesday.

(CNN) - Bill Clinton became visibly upset Wednesday over comments by a prominent South Carolina Democrat that compared the former president's actions on the trail to those of infamous Republican strategist Lee Atwater.

In an interview with CNN's Jessica Yellin, Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and a supporter of Barack Obama, said some of Bill Clinton's recent remarks on the campaign trail were appeals based on race and gender. He said the comments were meant to "suppresses the vote, demoralize voters, and distort the record," and said they were "reminiscent of Lee Atwater."

Clinton sharply disputed the charge, and lashed out at Yellin for raising the question.

"You live for this. This hurts the people of South Carolina," he said. "Because the people of South Carolina come to these meetings and ask questions about what they care about. And what they care about is not what's going to be in the news coverage tonight, because you don't care about it.

"What you care about is this. And the Obama people know that. So they just spin you up on this and you happily go along. I mean, the people don't care about this," he added. "They never ask about it. And you are determined to take this election away from them. And that's not right. That is not right. This election ought to belong to those people who are out here asking questions about their lives."

soundoff (1,260 Responses)
  1. danielo

    WHO'S FOOLING WHO?

    BUSH-CLINTON-CLINTON-BUSH-BUSH-CLINTON-CLINTON=CHANGE.
    Says the Clintons.

    CHANGE OF MUSICAL CHAIRS.

    Nough of Bush-Clinton dynasty.

    January 23, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. Diana

    President Clinton, I respect you. I voted for you twice. If you want you wife to have the same opportunity of service you had allow her to campaign and run for office on her own accord. Step back and start thinking about being the first male in the White House to pick the presidental china!

    January 23, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Gary Adkisson

    Bill Clinton is beginning to be a liability to Hillary.

    January 23, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Max Golby

    Bill Clinton would do his wife and this campaign a favor by going back to his foundation work. In the longrun, for example in a final Presidential campaign, his frontline campaigning would hurt Hillary by taking the focus off her as the true candidate and hence limiting her authoritarian appeal. A John McCain would take her apart in a head to head and the polls back up this sentiment.

    January 23, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. get truth guy

    All the Media are so biased and we are proud of Bill, Go to get those plitical biased crooks in CNN!

    January 23, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Rich in Arkansas

    If what Mr. Clinton says is true, then investigations should be initiated in NV to address concerns of voter intimidation. These six women (and others mentioned) should be easy enough to locate and interview. The media should get investigative reporters on this ASAP.

    January 23, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Terry

    I'm getting really tired of folks saying its so unfair that Bill is campaigning for Hillary. did you notice that OPRAH, the biggest celebrity ever, campaigned for Obama? Did John Edwards or Hillary Clinton complain when Oprah campaigned for Obama? did anyone attack Obama for pulling out the big guns–OPRAH? Oprah has a huge following that pales in comparison to the Clintons and all other candidates combined. Oprah has a huge influence on america in everyday life. Tell me again why it was ok for Oprah to campaign for Obama and no other candidates complained or called it unfair...and yet it is so unfair that a a spouse of one candidate, that happens to be a former president, campaigns? Obama is acting like a spoiled brat when he doesn't get his way. All the candidates need to grow up–please. The media is not helping..they are adding fuel to the fire. The media needs to provide a side-by-side comparison of all the candidates for their current proposals, positions, approach, experience, and record for all the major issues. This can then be discussed in the next debate where the candidates are only allowed to clarify or explain their own position if it was characterized incorrectly or they wish to expand. any candidate that makes an attack should be disqualified immediately and escorted from the stage. Wolf needs to ensure that happens.

    January 23, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. concerned citizen, Arizona

    Even Whoopie went after CNN saying they are puishing the race and gender card. Mr. Clinton was right on when he said they were doing for headlines basically. They are really trying to divide South Carolina. The people in South Carolina are more intellegent then CNN gives them credit for. They will look at the candidates and make an informed decision just like anyone else. I realize that some people will vote on race but I believe the majority won't.

    January 23, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. MARYLOU JONES

    FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! SOME OF THESE REPORTERS SOUND LIKE IDIOTS. THEY LOVE STIRRING THE POT AND EVEN EGGING PEOPLE ON WITH THEIR INSINUATIONS. THAT IS NOT WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR OR READ ABOUT MEDIA PEOPLE!!! RIGHT NOW OUR COUNTRY IS IN A SERIOUS CONDITION. PEOPLE ARE LOSING THEIR JOBS, THEIR HEALTH CARE, THEIR HOMES. THEIR CHILDREN ARE FIGHTING AND DYING IN A WAR THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN. STAY WITH THE ISSUES MEDIA AND LEAVE THE GOSSIPY, BACK BITING TO THE ENQUIRER FOR GOD'S SAKE!! SAW HILLARY IN LAVEEN, ARIZONA LAST NIGHT. SHE WAS MARVELOUS! THEY EXPECT 1,500 PEOPLE AND 10,000 SHOWED UP!!!!! THAT IS HOW ANXIOUS PEOPLE ARE TO HEAR ABOUT THE ISSUES!! EVEN LOU DOBBS IS GETTING CAUGHT UP IN THIS CRAZINESS. STOP! STOP! STOP! GO HILLARY!

    January 23, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. Van Buren

    It's kind of dissappointing that President Clinton will no longer be remembered for his presidency, but for the behind the scene campaignomics during his wife's Whitehouse bid. As I said the other day, I don't know if I would vote for John Edwards, but he sure is the most level headed, consistent and experienced of the 3. That's why the GOP doesn't mention him. They see him as a threat. Both Hillary and Obama would loose against the GOP, they know that.

    January 23, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Debbie

    Who Is running Hillary or Bill???????????????? Do you really want them in the white house?????????

    January 23, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Dave Johnson

    Right on, Bill! You are 100% right. The media – and CNN is probably the most fair of the bunch – skip the issues and focus on the personal stuff for ratings. It's becoming the People Magazine election with coverage aimed at an electorate the media deems to dumb – or impatient – to care about real issues.

    January 23, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. Brad

    "Politician is upset with reporter" is not news, CNN.

    January 23, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. Lisa Gross

    Richie is absolutely correct! I am an african-american who voted for Bill Clinton twice and I will not vote for Hillary and Billary! They are so power-driven to get back into the white house that they would try and destroy, by dirty tactics, a fellow democrat that they see many people actually like. They are by far no different than the republicans, so maybe I will take a second look at the other side, or maybe Bloomberg. I will look forward to Hillary and Bill looking over her shoulder , I can't wait for her concession speech on election night Nov, 08! I will scream as loud as I can, "YES WE CAN!"

    January 23, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  15. Jay Severson

    Amazing to hear someone who has used the media time and time again to whine when the game isn't played the way they like it.

    January 23, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. Steve

    Well, well, Hillary has Bill in her corner, but Obama has CNN in his corner, so is this now 1+1 against 1+100 (CNN reporters)?

    Question: Are CNN reportes pro-Obama, or pro-Republican, or just naively idealistic?

    January 23, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. D, WY

    I have been a fan of CNN for year...and yes they are taking the side of Obama....Why????

    You go Bill..tell them like it is...we don't want the trash that they stir up.... we want to know who will stand up for the people of the US.

    Lou Dobbs is also starting to sound like O'Riely!!!

    Does CNN want to be just a trash channel like FOX???

    It sure is looking that way.

    January 23, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Randy Slovacek

    I would hardly characterize his response as "sharply" or "visibly upset". I watched the whole thing and Bill actually was very cool and controlled in answering.

    Reading the blurb and headline, you would have thought he was yelling and screaming and slapping her around and had to be pulled off of her.

    He is right. The reporters aren't asking policy questions, they are going for and feeding this kind of thing. I think he handled the question very well.

    January 23, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. Gary Linn

    I watched the clip and read your accompanying story. The two do not match. I didn't see him (Clinton) lash out, I saw him set the record straight. He obviously did not agree with the CNN reporter. That is his right as well as mine.

    Reporters should be reporters. Save the editorializing for the editors and post them on opinions pages.

    Or, get a job on Fox, where it is all opinion – forget the facts.

    January 23, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  20. Hamid Akbari

    He is not upset! What is CNN trying to do? Is CNN backing Obama or what? Bill Clinton is right in what he said. Give them a break CNN!

    January 23, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. Brian

    For some reason that I don't know, it seems like CNN, MSNBC and all those left wing media is backing up Obama and smashing Hillary and Bill...

    I don't know why ? Do they have something against Bill?..

    I mean It's like whenever Bill Clinton say "something" and everyone is just trying to discredit him and say he is doing something terribly wrong, when he is just trying to be supportive...well

    Anyway...Go Hillary!

    January 23, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Chris

    People seem to be forgetting that the Lee Atwater comment was made by a the former Chairman of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, who happens to be an Obama supporter. I see nothing wrong with CNN asking Hillary's surrogate to respond to Obama's surrogate. Bill's calculated "outrage" was out of place, and entirely designed for political gain. The man is an excellent actor.

    Hillary and Bill (it's obvious now that you can't separate them) will win the nomination, and in the process, drag the Democratic Party down with them and lose the general election. McCain will likely win in November.

    January 23, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Your article is misleading. Clinton did not "lash out" or become "visibly upset." Please try to report more accurately.

    January 23, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. John Gleason

    Pretty shabby story there CNN. I'm not going to get political with my comments, but I believe that it is very telling in the way you wrote the story where your sentiments lie. By not calling him former President or even, President Clinton you disrespect the man's title. Every President current or past needs to be shown the respect of being preceded by their title in introduction and in print. By calling him Bill Clinton, you have vindicated the biased journalism that is so abundant these days ( a la Fox (faux) News ). I hope this was a misstep, but I will be watching your word choice more closely and will jump ship as soon as I feel that your news organization is becoming active in politics, rather than reporting on politics.

    January 23, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. jim jackson

    The Clintons are so yesterday. Games, games,games,,spin,spin,spin.
    Time to move on. Fired up. Ready to Go!

    January 23, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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