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. Charm, San Diego CA

    Frankly I'm disappointed the media has pushed gender and race as "the" issue for Democrats to the point where that's all we've heard about in terms of Obama and Clinton. How about reporting on the real issues CNN? Go Bill for telling off Ms. Yellin! All this senstionalist reporting on he said-she said race-gender thing is detracting from the real messages of the candidates.

    January 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Carolyn in St. Louis

    You Go Mr. President – right on point! What's so sad is that it's the Obama folks that are playing the "race" card – they are about as suttle as a freight train. Thank God experience counts!!

    January 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. John Petty

    I'd say he's right on.

    But, of course, the Obamabots have to chime right in about how horrible Bill is.

    January 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. Ms. Smith

    I saw the complete footage shown by CNN. President Clinton was more annoyed than upset. I agree with what he said. P.S. Are we supposed to sympathize with the poor journalists when they are appropriately scolded???

    January 23, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. jim

    I agree with Mr. Clinton. CNN reporter is acting like the Mr. Harpootlian is speaking fact, not spin for his candidate, and CNN took the bait. Like the Clintons or not, but Mr. Clinton was rational and unemotional in his response. CNN is spinning it as if he were a raging lunatic. Totally unfair and biased reporting on the part of CNN.

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. frankly0

    The man is a master politician.

    Yes, he's upset - but look at what he's upset about: the fact that the reporter is not pursuing what the people of SC want really want to know about. In other words, he's angry on behalf of the people of SC.

    Even when Bill "loses control", he's perfectly in control.

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. apple orchard

    He's waving that finger again, you know what that means.

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Sven

    Wow! Does anyone believe ONE WORD coming out of Bill Clinton's mouth any more? The guy is a human BS machine! Hey Bill – just go away, we don't care what Mr. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" has to say !

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. John L

    Finally the HALO is coming off Obama...He didn't get to be a US Senator on sainthood but on the same old political drive of power, ambition and self service.
    Go Bill!!!!
    And CNN what is wrong with you...perhaps FOX a better news service.

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. Marty

    This is so typical of the Bill and Hillary show... (1) They make derogatory comments about people "on the record" (2) Others denounce their derogatory comments, (3) Bill/Hill accuse the other camp of "stirring the pot".

    Bill – YOU are the one who stirred the pot. YOU are the one who's making sleazy comments about others. YOU are the one who needs to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your words and actions.

    It is this lack of responsibility, this "Teflon" attitude that really, really makes me negative on Bill/Hillary and is the reason why I'll vote for any other Democratic candidate long before I'll vote for either/both of them.

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Lena

    Billary + dirty tricks = winning election.

    Get over your fear of change and open your hearts to change, peace and unity, America!

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. maynard

    BILL CLINTON IS A BIG BAG OF WIND, THE PEOPLE ARE GETTING SICK OF YOUR GRANDSTANDING AND IT JUST MAY CAUSE THE LOSS OF THE MANY FACED WOMANS PRESIDENCY. WHO IS NOT PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL. SHE IS NOT SMART OR CLEVER ENOUGHT FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE USA.

    YOU WILL ALWAYS WONDER WHO IS DOING THE TALKING IF THE WOMAN OF MANY FACES WINS THIS ELECTION---HEAVEN HELP US IF SHE DOES.
    THE CLINTONS WILL SET THIS COUNTRY BACK FIFTY YEARS IF THE CLINTON NAME CONTINUES IN POLITICS

    IF THE WOMAN OF MANY FACES LOOSES THE ELECTION THEN THROW HER OUT OF POLITICS . HILLARY AND BILL JUST GO HOME. CHANGE IS NEEDED IN THE WHITE HOUSE NO MORE CLINTONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Ann

    i just watched the entire conversation and I really don't think he was yelling. And heavens, do you supposed there might be merit to his complaint? I realize it isn't news if there isn't conflict, but don't inflate whats really going on.

    January 23, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Steve

    He's turned into Elizabeth Edwards!!

    January 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Jeff

    Bill Clinton do us all a favor and move on... you're single-handedly turning this Democrat into a Republican, by your comments/actions.

    January 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. P.J. Hall

    I say, let Bill talk and talk and talk. Eventually, no one will care. He is so pathetic!Trying to get in the back door to the oval office anyway he can. Poor old Hillary is so desperate, she will go along with anything, in order to say she has 35 years of experience.

    Let's see: 2 years as 1st Lady of Arkansas, 8 years as 1st Lady of the US, 8 years in the federal Senate. = 8 years experience, period! 35 years of a big mouth does not constitute experience!

    By the way, if Hillary is the feminist she plays, then why does she need old Billy-Boy to wipe up her mess and lately create a mess for her. Why, I thought she was the MAN for the JOB! She is the biggest phoney there is.

    January 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. Jennifer in Austin

    You can clearly read the love / hate relationship America has for Bill. Hate to be the one to tell you this, but you just might be forced to see his face daily for the next 4 years...unless another is chosen to lead this oh-so-diverse country. Remember, we are suppose to be the "melting pot", not the "boiling pot". Change is suppose to be good...for the most part.

    January 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. anne

    Bill sounds desperate. He and Hillary thought they had this nomination in the bag but are obviously getting worried.

    January 23, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Grady

    It's clear that the Clinton's are "frustrated" by the renewed focus on their slash and burn tactics against a fellow Democrat.

    They are probably also "frustrated" that their opponent, Barack Obama, hs been effectively educating the public about their below the belt tactics.

    They are also, no doubt, "frustrated" by the fact that, despite squeaking out some close popular vote victories, they have yet to beat Obama in the race for delegates in a single state.

    January 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Chris

    I think Bill has gone off the rails! I was a Bill Clinton suporter years back but now
    it's time for him to enjoy retirement, rake in the bucks, etc. He seems almost frantic. You have to wonder if he's got something dangling over his head on this. Is Hillary telling him "Either I win or you go!"? Hmmmm

    January 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. CJ

    Dear Reporters and Comments People: This election should be about American lives and NOT about the questions that reporters raise for sound bites. I WANT to hear what the candidates have to say about the economy, Iraq, medical insurance, gas prices – and the very basic fundamentals – the price of groceries! I want to know what the candidates will do about 1 gallon of milk costing over $3! I want to hear about America for sale to foreign investors. Bill is absolutely right about challenging the reporter to stick to the issues that affect our daily lives. And as to those people leaving comments about Bill and his infamous sexual peccadilloes – you're buying into the media's sense that American voters care more about scandal than about intelligent voters who want someone in the White House who can better our lives. Or, you're all the ones who put a C-average Yale grad into the Presidency, and see where that got us!

    January 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. joe

    "BILL CLINTON GETS MAD AT A CNN REPORTER" ...CNN HEADLINE

    GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

    CLINTON WAS RIGHT AND POLITE AND HONEST

    GIVE THE FULL STORY NOT HALF THE STORY

    CNN IS ANOTHER FOX NETWORK...

    WOLF, JACK AND LOU...GROW UP....YOU SHOULD BE ON
    ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT

    SHAME ON CNN!! SHAME ON CNN!!! SHAME ON OBAMA CAMP FOR CONTINUE TO SPIN IT!!!

    January 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Harry Brock

    Bill is right ..... All CNN and the rest of the media care about is this stupid he said, she said campaign, and they are not interested at all about the American People. Why doesn't the media talk about how all the past leadership, and PRESENT leadership is selling this country down the tubes ... you all better start brushing up on your Chinese, because that's where this country is heading. Gee let me see, give the peasants a tax rebate with money that we borrow from China, so they can all go to WALMART and buy products made in China - wow what a concept !!!

    January 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Julie-Albuquerque

    Wow! Bill Clinton's response to Ms. Yellin was so on the target, it solidified what I detest about irresponsible reporting and headline hungry reporters. Jessica Yellin should go work for one of those tabloid magazines who create interest in their magazines by printing out of this world headlines. She would be at home there where she would be free to to spin and distort subject matter for the sole purpose of creating sensationalism and drawing gullible readers.

    January 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. Karen, Boca Raton, FL

    I agree with President Clinton that media as a whole, not just CNN, are not at all focused on the issues that the general public is focused on with respect to this election. All I hear about is the fighting between candidates, who's running out of funds, who dropped out, who paid $400 for a haircut, who has ties to which lobbyist, etc. And I agree that the media IS taking this election away from the people. I care about ISSUES, not personality, not rhetoric, not who is fighting with who, ISSUES!!!! It's so tiresome and so not what politics should be about, that I'm disenfranchised with the whole process. And the media in part is to blame...and so are politicians. They are ruining this country, from top to bottom, and not one of them seems to give a rat's behind how to fix it...

    January 23, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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