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. Pete

    Democracy will fail without unbiased news. First it was radio now TV.
    Fed up with the junk...

    April 24, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. cheapster505

    Junior ! Get me Karl Rove ! Yes chief , don't call me chief! yes ch boss

    April 24, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. Jacob

    Al-jazeera America tells it like it is.

    April 24, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. PuzzledInPeoria

    This from a politician who described a "corkscrew landing" at an airport in a combat zone that never happened. She should talk about facts. A reporter who was on the same plane called her on it and Hillary ignored her.

    Hillary had better hope that reporters never investigate Whitewater thoroughly, along with Vince Foster's death.

    April 24, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. Pinewalker

    the problem with continually creating a façade is eventually someone does look behind the curtain. our society is teetering on the brink and the average American just happily bumbles through their day without a care

    April 24, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ 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.

    I would suggest this was the intent behind this particular article. I doubt the MSM actually understands (or accepts as fact) the contempt mainstreet Americans feel towards our American MSM.

    April 24, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. goblackhawks

    She is correct .. it would be nice if the media would actually cover : Benghazi , Fast & Furious , IRS targeting Tea Party Groups , Obama's past as a community orgnzr ( I live in Chicago and I still don't know anything he did .. except he was on Check Please on Chnl 11) , Bill Ayers , etc ....

    April 24, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Edward R. Murrow must be rolling in his grave.
    He's rolled his way to a different continent by now.

    April 24, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. mikes605

    CNN is proud to be doing its part to make news more like Dancing With the Stars.

    April 24, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. Lizzie

    God my not be a lib........if you believe that Maddow or Mattews are Journalists think again, Maddow if she can't say ugly things about those she doesn't like she would have nothing to say and Mattews famous line , "Tingles run up my leg"
    At least Fox News, calls the Hannity etc commentators and the programs opinions, and not NEWS, but CNN, MSNBC, HLN and the rest of the so-called news media call their program news, which they get from AP and just changed a word here and there. None have INVESTIGATIVE reporters anymore. Everything for ratings, that's why CNN ran the missing airline story 24/7 to bring their ratings up.

    April 24, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. RC

    Hillary can practice her skills by writing about Benghazi, Whitewater, Foster etc the list could go on and on.

    April 24, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. coderjones

    Today's media is more entertainment, less facts

    Kinda like today's government

    April 24, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. John

    This is a problem with ALL major news outlets. It is not right or left based as I am sure some commenters will try and make it. News outlets are out for ratings just like any other show on T.V. Sensationalized stories used simply to get people to watch. Watching cable news is no different then watching an episode of *add your favorite TV show*.

    April 24, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. steve lahaie

    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." This is just a lame attempt to get the media on her side and only report the things she seems satisfied with. Any criticism will not be tolerated.

    April 24, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  15. bob

    >>that journalism is now driven more by entertainment than fact based reporting

    And she is absolutely correct. It stems from an overwhelming dumbing down of America. No one reads, no one checks facts.

    April 24, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  16. joeamerican

    What a joke this woman is. The media protected her lies about Whitewater, Benghazi. The media has protected Hussein Obama about his connections to Marxists.........especially CNN

    April 24, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. Norcalmojo


    If we had real journalists, her career would have been over years ago.

    April 24, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda Minnesota and Ron L
    . 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
    It behooves CNN's bottom line to allow for the propogation of lies and innuendoes fro both its so-called journalists, which they're not, and the Usual Suspects on this thread.
    It all culminates weekly, like clockwork, in what I call Red meat Fridays, a free-for-all brought on by the usual mamby-pamby half-assed story, and a week's worth of pent-up frustration at not getting the truth out.
    There is a group of us dedicated to getting the truth out and engaging in discussions with others of different views, and then there's the cnn story and those that like to"debate" without the benefit of facts.
    But you probably already knew this Ron L.
    Morning Lynda!

    April 24, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. Logic

    "...journalism is now driven more by entertainment than fact based reporting"

    Captain Obvious? I fail to see why this is such a revelation.

    April 24, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "Propagation" I should've typed. Pardon

    April 24, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Marie MD wrote:

    @amecians. . . , the difference between faux news, emphasis on the faux, is that MSNBC is trying to tell US that the red state politicians, the kochs and adelson's of the world are trying to take away our voting rights Nd they are making sure that we the people know.
    This faux news is all about, I heard or she's a will but he isn't or I was told or we think or he is a communist, socialist, nazi, blah, blah, blah. No real news just lies and innuendos. They are given talking points, which that brainless steve doocey(sp) let out of the bag a while back, and they stick to them.

    Do I blame Fox News? Yup, you betcha. Fox launched a month after MSNBC, just before the 1996 general election. It quickly became clear that Fox was a 24/7 propaganda vehicle for conservative views and political advertisements. MSNBC didn't really throw a hat into the political fight until after Kerry was swift boated in 2004.

    All in all, I find Marie's remarks comparing the content of what's reported on either channel to be spot on. My biggest problem with Fox is that they have blurred and continually ignore the line between news reporting and editorial commentary. I will give MSNBC and CNN credit for maintaining a clear distinction between the two.

    I read posts about people complaining about CNN not debunking comments by someone, and see someone who doesn't understand the significance of the difference. A news report should not comment on the content of the news, just report it. If you think that someone is lying through their teeth, then that is political commentary not political news. Unfortunately, for Fox viewers, such commentary is reported as if it were news.

    April 24, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Garth

    To the person who asked if anyone remembers the Yellow Journalism of the Civil War Days, no, I don't remember that. And actually it got started about the time of the Spanish-America war, what about 30 years after the Civil War.
    But more salient to this topic, it's funny that I have first read about this in this story on CNN, because CNN is one of the worst offenders. It has been turning news into entertainment for a long time, along with Faux News and most other major news outlets. Bottomline for them, I guess, is that controversy/contention sells news.
    I also question their news values. Yes, flight three-seven-zero is a tragedy, but it is also a tragedy, albeit maybe a minor one, that every time you turn on CNN they are droning on and on and on about three-seven-zero. Only now is CNN beginning to make some small steps toward breaking out of that loop.

    April 24, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. drew

    Agreed ... now when will Fox News take the "News" out of their name, so they can be honest about what they deliver from the outset.

    April 24, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. MLegendre

    Hillary 2016 ...YES

    April 24, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. SoCal

    HAHAHA , so the news media was awesome when it is bashing Republicans , but now that it points out everything that the Democrats have been doing and getting caught for , its not ? You guys and gals (politically correct) are so two faced, face it you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar and now you got to deal with the consequences of your actions . Hey Hillary? " What difference does it make" ? HAHAHA

    April 24, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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