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

Bill Clinton gets upset with CNN reporter


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. Sharon Merkle

    Bill Clinton was absolutely right. His comments were not a personal attack, nor was he even chastizing, Ms Yellin. It is ironic that even in reporting this particular story, your focus is on digging for sensationalism that just isn't there regarding racial and gender undercurrents.

    January 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Justin, Houston, TX

    I bet not one of these Obama supporters leaving comments even listened to the interview. Bill did not raise his voice once during the whole interview. In fact, he calmly explained everything and was right on everything. Instead of CNN focusing on Bill saying that people do not care about all this media crap, they sensationalize.

    CNN is stirring dirt because they know they're are idiots who will only read the headlines. And you fall right for it. CNN is disgusting and you people are disgusting for not getting all the information. There really should be an educational requirement for voting.

    January 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. RA,Cary,NC

    To make News should one hit the Pit of Journalism, as Yellin has apparently done?

    January 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. PenFoe

    Bill is quickly turning into the political version of the crazy Little League Parent.

    January 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. David S., Chicago, IL

    Bill sucks, stay out of the race!

    January 23, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. jfs

    CNN needs to do better. Your lead in "Bill gets mad" and is visibly upset were not accurate. He did not rais ehis voice and he spoke directly and factually. CNN needs to stop being part of the sound bites.

    January 23, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. ina

    why are people so upset about bill being on the campaign trail for his wife, if he wasnt everyone would be posting how horrible he is, why doesnt he campaign for his wife doesnt he believe in her.....blah, blah, blah........he is on the campaign trail just like any other spouse is.....they all have negative things to say about eachother and the other canidates, it just so happens that this spouse used to be our president, so what, stop complaining.....i think the other demo's are just scarred of that because he was our president and many people still admire him. I think obama needs to just give it up, with all the emails going around about his past and his religous beliefs, whether or not they are true it still puts doubt in voters heads........it is going to be hard to win in the end........I admire him for taking that step and running and i think in a few years maybe........i think both hil and obam need to just chill out a bit, frankly i am getting turned off by both of their actions and may just vote reb.........yikes! LOL

    January 23, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Ant in Texas

    Well, caring about the people now? That a new one for BILLARY!!! Maybe he should find the truth from all the lies he has told the state of South Carolina. Maybe his wife should be in South Carolina instead of the Super Tuesday states because she has written off South Carolina as a defeat. And what will BILLARY spin in the South Carolina loss, "It was the press that cost BILLARY that primary" Will Hillary ever present her views? Will Hillary ever stand for anything? Will Hillary ever show up for a vote in the Senate? NO, but BILLARY will!!!

    I hope Obama can get back on message, about changing this country, uniting the people and moving us forward and away from the dark days of Bush, Clinton, Bush…ashame that I had to include BILLARY in there, but he is sad. Race and gender has been played by BILLARY to drive a wedge between South Carolina, the South and America…They play the gender card, they play the race card and hope America will fall for it. Is Carl Rove now Clinton's brain?

    If the people focus on issues and substance, the BILLARY will not win!!! No who is frustrated? Now who looks inexperienced? And he is the former President, my God!!! If BILLARY can not take the heat, get out the kitchen!!! Their inexperience is showing!!! Just because you know your way around the White House, it doesn't count as experience.

    These times require real leadership – from Day 1!!!

    Obama 08

    January 23, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Don

    I think Brother Bill needs to check and see if his blood pressure med is working or not.
    Of course the people still care about the race issues, and Hill started and continues with the gender issues. Her little teary eyed jag, come on I took acting 101 also, anybody can turn them off and on. Her comments about being in the kitchen–Give me a break! This should show America what they will get with Hillary-Four or eight more years of Bill (and George). My, my arent Bill and Bush Sr. great buddies now?

    The Clintons are angry because they feel the White House is an entitlement. His strike at the reporter is more Bushy than ever. In other words DO NOT QUESTION ME. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE. I could almost hear again "If your not with us your against us and your not a good American.


    January 23, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. Rob

    Bill really needs to can it and let Hillary stand on her own.

    CNN needs to reign their reporters in and let the facts speak for themselves.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. Robin

    I am sick of the Clinton bashing by the media.

    News alert: Dems who support Hillary do NOT do so because of anything Bill says. I for one wish he'd take a vacation until January 2009.

    What IS increasingly clear, however, is that Obama has failed to successfully make the case based on his own merits. At debates, he has the opportunity to persuade us, and he does not. He is great in front of a teleprompter, but without that aid he comes across as unprepared and petulant. Or, as Lou Dobbs said last night, "out of his element."

    While it may be appealing and convenient for Obama and his media fans to find a scapegoat (in Bill Clinton) for Obama's own weaknesses, the American people are smart enough to sort out truth from spin. Obama has just plain failed to show us the "beef."

    Media, shame on you! Whatever happened to true journalism. All we get today is sensationalistic BS.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Stephen

    Unbelievable that an ex President I once hold in high esteem is a TRASH!!!

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. peg

    You have it coming CNN. Along with the other blood thirsty networks. I stopped watching Fox because I thought you folks were fair. NOT . Did you folks feel you had to be more like Fox in order to get the ratings? You are all the same. Mr. Clinton is saying things to the media that other people wished they had the guts to say. I like it when someone calls you all down to be the scandal mongers you all are.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. David, CA

    If McCain wins over the GOP and the Clintons claw their way to the top of the dem ticket using the same kind of tactics they've been using in NV and SC, then the Dems are boned for sure in November. Kinda amazing considering the "post-Bush" attitude most people have towards the Republican party these days, but if the Democrats want to rip themselves apart from the inside out, then who can stop them?

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Don

    Why is it that the only thing people can think about is Bill Clinton's sex life. Either your jealous or have little else to do. My God, this is history. Done. Who cares? Like no one has ever had an affair. Oh, I forgot this has to come from those morally correct republicans who would never dream of having sex( oh, wait....). Bill Clinton is one this countries greatest President's. I admire him for speaking the truth about the media. CNN, go back to reporting the news. This election has really shown your weakness and desire for ratings.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. nathan Flower

    The entire situation should be call Bill v. Barack. It's tired and is inflated by the media. Ms. Yellin clearly has a very thin skin and is doing exactly what Pres. Clinton accuses the media of doing, spinning and hyping the drama. This kind of "pity me" reporting makes me very disappointed in CNN.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Steven

    This is the kind of reporting that has made me start watching MSNBC...you guys are pathetic.
    So Wolf...do you really think Clinton "lashed out" at your poor little reporter? PATHETIC.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. patrick

    Bill Clinton is right.CNN is covering the election like a tabloid.Talk about real issues before it's too late.

    January 23, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Sid

    ...gee, I knew there was a reason that I am not fond of politics as usual.

    I must, however, state that Mr. Clinton's remarks is so silly...so childish...so typical! What Clinton IS doing is EXACTLY what was stated...but he must cover it up by stating the obvious: that the Obama camp is doin' some of its own spin.

    Hell, if people think that Edwards' calm demeanor and subtle attacks on Obama aren't also politics and spin, then y'all ain't-a-watchin' close enough. The game is afoot, so to speak. Clinton-camp is hoping Edwards will steal away the "I hate Clinton" camp from Obama, so that those numbers are accordingly diminished, allowing the blind Clinton sychophants to outnumber the competition's number, and accordingly win the nomination. Civil Discourse has taken the backseat to irrationality, and this is unfortunate because the candidates did a pretty good job early on of highlighting their own campaign's high point without constant attacks on the others'. However, I guess we had too much of a good thing.

    At this point I don't care which of the candidates beats Hillary Clinton (and Co.)...I just hope they do! Eight more years of nepotism corporate-buddy-buddy will be enough for me to expatriate!

    January 23, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Dusacre

    If Bill is a "brother", then why is he not in prison?
    Many more "brothers" are in American prison for far less than what Bill Clinton has done!

    But he is out there giving the living hhhh to America! Eight more years of Clintons? I don't think so!

    January 23, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Angela

    From most of the comments above I can see that you haven't watched the video, President clinton answered the question put to him, he wasn't upset,he didn't lash out, he stated that the media didn't care about the facts and that they are doing a diservice to the voters by focusing on rhetoric and unfounded accusations instead of the issues that the voters want to know about. He stood up for the voters and told the media the truth and all he gets in return is nasty comments, being accused of lying and dirty tricks. Get Over it its the same old rubbish being repeated by people over again – you must all be perfect. Noone mentions the work that he has done since he left the White House, helping fundraise for the victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina with former President Bush, and all the good work that has been accompished by his foundation and global initiative which has helped improve the lives of millions of people in the areas of health, housing, education, climate projects etc – why don't you do some research, maybe then you could give him some credit for what he has accomplished and the respect he deserves as a former president rather than these pathetic, mean comments. Once again CNN has shown an extraordinary bias against the former President.

    January 23, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. carol

    CNN's first sentence in the article is misleading and unnecessarily provocative.. Bill Clinton is not visibly upset as the article contends. He's calm, he's clear-headed, and he's direct... Do I agree with him?? That's not the point? CNN is creating drama where there is none and where there doesn't need to be any. Cover the issues!!

    January 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. Ron, NJ

    LOL here we go again!
    Pundit after pundit have said, just wait for Bill, he has blown up over something just before the last 2 primaries.
    Oh well make that number 3 now...

    January 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. Chris

    What really gets me the most is that daddy Bush wouldn't even step into the 2000 primary when his own flesh and blood was running for the GOP ticket.

    This is a totally inappropriate role for an ex-president and I am losing respect for him, fast.

    January 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Jon, Pittsburgh, PA

    Most of you that are writing disparaging things about Hillary and Bill are so naive that you don't realize the main stream media is trying their hardest to get Obama nominated. The main stream media is predominantly owned by rich and powerful conservative Republicans and they know who they want to run against.

    You can't see through it because you've allowed yourself to be brainwashed by Rush, Sean and Bill for so many years now, you don't know the truth from a fictional novel.

    January 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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