Hillary Clinton: Today's media is more entertainment, less facts
April 23rd, 2014
09:20 PM ET
4 years ago

Hillary Clinton: Today's media is more entertainment, less facts

Storrs, Connecticut (CNN) – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented the state of journalism on Wednesday, telling an audience at the University of Connecticut that journalism is now driven more by entertainment than fact based reporting.

Clinton, who has been the focus of national media attention since the early 1990s, told the 2,300-person audience that "journalism has changed quite a bit in a way that is not good for the country and not good for journalism."

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"A lot of serious news reporting has become more entertainment driven and more opinion-driven as opposed to factual," she said. "People book onto the shows, political figures, commentators who will be controversial who will be provocative because it’s a good show. You might not learn anything but you might be entertained and I think that’s just become an unfortunate pattern that I wish could be broken."

Clinton's comments came as part of the question and answer portion to Wednesday’s event. University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst asked Clinton about how journalism has changed and whether journalists could help break gridlock that has halted work in Washington.

The former secretary of state went on to say that she feels there is a space for "explanatory journalism because there’s a lot going on in the world that needs explanation."

The former first lady also had a tip for journalists: Do your homework.

"It’s important for journalists to realize that they have to do their homework too and they really should be well-prepared when they interview people, when they talk about issues," she said. "I think that it’s with professional tweaking and creativity we could address some of the issues we know are plaguing journalism today​."

Clinton has long been the focus of journalists' attention, which at times has caused an acrimonious view of media.

According to the diary of Diane Blair, a longtime Clinton confidant whose personal documents gained media attention earlier this year, Clinton regularly expressed frustration and a deep distrust of the media.

In January 1995, Blair wrote that Clinton expressed “her total exasperation with all this obsession and attention, and how hard she’s finding to conceal her contempt for it all.” On Thanksgiving Day 1996, Blair wrote that Clinton thought the press was “complete hypocrites.”

“Say they want the truth, want power to be transparent, but in fact they prefer the backstage manipulation of B. Bush, N. Reagan, B. Truman, R. Carter,” Blair wrote, listing several former first ladies. “On her death bed, wants to be able to say she was true to herself and is not going to do phoney makeovers to please others.”

When her husband, Bill Clinton, was president, many in the White House worried of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" that aimed to take down the Clinton White House. Some of that concern stemmed from the rise of right wing media and blogs.

Clinton's 2008 campaign also suffered from a sometimes tense relationship with the media. In 2008, former President Clinton railed against what he called "the most biased coverage in history," and both Clintons complained of what they believed to be pervasive sexism dominating the campaign narrative.

In response to her remarks, Tim Miller, executive director of American Rising PAC, a conservative research and media super PAC, said Clinton's problem with the media stemmed from "a lack of interest in transparency, not the media. She's never going to like anyone that tries to hold her accountable."

While in Storrs, Clinton also talked about National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the future of the Ukraine-Russia relationship and the importance of youth participation.

Because the remarks came at University of Connecticut, a school whose basketball program won both Division I national championship in 2014, the former secretary of state also brandished some of her basketball bona fides, telling the audience that she was "a big fan" of Shabazz Napier, the men's senior guard.

"You just busted every bracket," Clinton said.

Clinton, who has used the last few months to travel the country and deliver paid speeches, has acknowledged that she is thinking about a presidential run in 2016. All polls have her as the Democratic frontrunner and it is likely that she would win the nomination if she won.

Former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who attended Wednesday's event, said the former first lady should think about running, while Connecticut's Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he would support Clinton "when and if she does."

Filed under: Connecticut • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. manWithThe100PoundBrain

    Regardless of what people think about Clinton, she is correct and Fox News lead the way to the current "model" of "news." Especially in prime time, Fox News is not "news;" it is commentary. The problem is that people now seek out the sources of information that say the things they want them to say to support what they want to be true.

    April 24, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. Ron L

    Really, what she says is 100% true. In this PROFIT DRIVEN America, news organization HAVE to show a profit. This started over ten years ago and it has caused news outlets to sensationalize stories in an attempt to get larger market share. In addition to that you have politicians on both side using the MOST colorful or attention getting adjectives to describe things that are actually mild in real life. It has devolve into a mess and they (the news agencies) are just delivering what our emotionally immature society is asking for. Just look at how extremely nonfactual many of the statements are made in the political ticker. If WE THE PEOPLE where less hunger for sensationalism, the news media would adapt to it and become more factual and less entertaining.

    April 24, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  3. Marty

    This "Ole Gal" wrote the book on backstage manipulation! A Margaret Thatcher she ain't.

    April 24, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. IronyJoe

    Only Obama has benefited more than her because of the lack of real journalism. All the dirt on this woman hands and the media covers for her time and time again. Good show Hill – who's going to point out the irony? The media? Obviously you know they won't! This woman is a real piece of work.

    April 24, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. Adam F

    All Media is biased, this is not new. Does anyone remember the tide of "yellow journalism" during the Civil War? The media has always taken sides. Left Wing or Right Wing it doesn't matter. They feed you want they thing will sell papers or make television rating rise. Anyone who doesn't understand that making money is the true goal of the buisiness of media is fooling themselves.

    April 24, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    If you rally want to know what's happenning in America you have to read foreign journals to find out.
    Stay away from those owned by Murdoch, though.

    April 24, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. Pete

    Hillary is right and the entertainment which is mostly anti democratic anything is also mostly unfactual as well..But as you know suckers are born every minute and republicans are the ones that follow under that category..Remember its Issas led committes that have spent millions on political witch hunts from Benghazi to the IRS and have always come up empty handed and I thought by now someone would of come up with enough already,but no ...I can't wait till Rep.Cummings brings up Issa on ethics charges because of lies publicly stated even after Hillary was found innocent after a republican led investigation found her that way..Only republicans can make a blue sky gray,just ask but they'll argue with you otherwise...

    April 24, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. Sniffit

    She's 100% correct and CNN and the rest of the MSM knows it, fears it, hates that she said it out loud and will now punish her for it. Just watch.

    April 24, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "If WE THE PEOPLE where less hunger for sensationalism, the news media would adapt to it and become more factual and less entertaining."

    Those of us who have been frequent bloggers on CNN have tried, Ron L. Indeed we have. CNN either moderates us to oblivion or allows comments of the most blatant lies to abound around us. It becomes propaganda in its own right when lies are allowed to fester and take root from those whose only goal is to rile up and smirk. CNN has refused to acknowledge they are complicit in allowing the lies to continue and thus promote propaganda from other news sources to dirty the waters (so to speak) at CNN.

    Of course, there is also CNN's willingness to support talking point memo's handed directly to them from various Republican pundits and treat such memo's as gospel truth.

    April 24, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    His degrading and offensive remark against Barack Obama stuck with people.
    Sure did...still does.

    April 24, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. jc

    this is so true. I agree with her 100%. I've stopped watching news because of this actually.

    April 24, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Kenman

    What's the matter, Hillary, are they not sucking up to you enough!?

    April 24, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. Kelly

    It's entertainment/propaganda and Americans are finally waking up to it. This is why we're questioning the administration and unstable folks like John McCain about getting involved in Syria, Ukraine, and other places we can't find on a map. Too bad we didn't do this a decade ago. We would have saved lots of innocent lives.

    April 24, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. JimTheBoy

    Do you doubt what she has said? Just watch Fox! But then CNN and MSNBC are not winning any prizes. What bothers me is that what you read, listen to or watch, it is all from a bias view.

    April 24, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. ztarbod

    I quit watching TV 'news about 40 years ago, it was and is little but propaganda. I get a laugh from commenters that bash FOX and don't seem realize ALL the other outlets are as bad or worse. Einstein commented about the folly of our "news" industry almost 100 years ago, not much has changed. As for Hillary, it appears she is substantial beneficiary of the non-journalists.

    April 24, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. LinFine

    Sad legacy of the 1st amendment that America is turning to a National mainstream news service and the rest of the western world along with it. How disingenuous of Clinton to express regret over the lack of her version of the truth in the media, meanwhile nobody from the left is talking about the attack on the church including the press. The left-wing seems ignorant of the fact that as the freedom of worship goes out the window, so goes the freedom of the press. But you won't hear of an op-ed on that subject for obvious reasons.

    April 24, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. volsocal

    Yep, the Hildebeast is right. The press should have displayed more skepticism and objectivity when reporting on her husband's scandals, her acts of theft when leaving the White House, her delusions about being shat at when flying into Afganistan, her empty record as Secretary of State, her memory lapses and brain problems when being questioned about Benghazi, and whether not having driven a car in 22 years might be symptomatic of a person that is out of touch with the average American.

    April 24, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. Misty

    I saw this RT anchor quit on air because news is suppressed by the Administration. Obama admitted McCain couldn't talk about Obama's muslim background. What journalists wants to do work and then told later they cannot air that segment because it was not approved. Makes sense or am I blowing smoke?

    April 24, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. dave

    I guess nobody remembers during the 2008 democratic campaign.....when the media was gushing over obama, hillary said only fox was giving her fair coverage! There's a fact for you!
    In addition, the media when heavy to entertainment long before fox came along.....anyone wantto debate that?

    April 24, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. AAA Anonymous

    News is affected by advertisers, leaving viewers vulnerable to coverups..

    April 24, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Jack

    I agree both the left & right are to blame!

    April 24, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. JohnRJohnson

    She's not correct.
    Today's news is NOT entertaining. It is purely inflammatory, designed to appeal to the extreme ends of the political spectrum. Watch any news channel today and your blood pressure skyrockets, not because the news is terrible, but because it allows people to go on television and spout outrageous lies and misinformation. Can't watch it anymore.

    April 24, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. 911Survivor

    Selling stuff has invaded journalism. And invaded at every level, and in every medium. Product placement has become more important than impartial, unbiased reporting. We see tv shows reported as "news" on the networks that profit from them. We see branded items pushed towards the camera in movies and on TV – sometimes the brand is the only thing in focus! And newspapers push books and other profit-generating side items. I have stopped my subscription to the NY Times in part because of this, their blatant selling of their reporters' books, most particularly the one that lies about HeLa cells and pushes a fiction about them – pretending that 2014 lawyer views were in place in the 1940s, when they were not at all!. Selling stuff, marketing and branding dominate the media, and we are all the poorer for it. The only place we can find some umbiased reporting is PBS and NPR, and if the haters of reality (otherwise known as the Faux News crowd) limit their funding and shut them down, then we will be in another Dark Age, where only lies poison the air. Stand up to the forces against truth – send a donation to your local PBS station and NPR today!

    April 24, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. liberal disease

    What does Hilary Clinton know about Facts? what nerve!!

    April 24, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  25. humanproblem

    holy cow !
    i actually agree with hillary on something !

    April 24, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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