January 23rd, 2008
09:00 PM ET
10 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. RuthieM

    What a smooooothe operator, this Bill Clinton. I never saw him in this light before because he hid it from us, but now... I see all that the reports stated about the Clintons, ruthless, will do anything to win, and that's just what's going on. Just like the Nevada ads said, she, they are shameful, they have no shame. Someone needs to do something about this because they are destroying true democracy. But the other thing is that Hillary cannot be president without Bill Clinton, she had to drag this former 2 term president out to trash Obama and bring Obama down. No comparison a 2 term president to a candidate running for president. Gee, they make the Bushes look mild, at least Bush's dad didn't go trashing the other candidates on the campaign trail when Bush was running for president. He just stood up for his son, and he wasn't in the cameras every second. Where is Hillary? Who's running? And has Bill Clinton taken his pills today? If Hillary and Bill become the nominees I will change parties, I will vote Republican, I absolutely WILL NOT vote for them! OBAMA '08!!

    January 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. John, NC

    CNN is gradually become biased like FOX News. They seem to have anointed OBAMA as the Democratic candidate. Their analyst Roland S. Martin is almost a complete shameless surrogate for the OBAMA campaign. His analysis is becoming more and more ridiculous.

    They must be joking!

    HILLARY will win the nomination, and become our next President of the United States of America!

    January 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Steve

    Guess I am going to have to look into what the Repubs are offering. I can't handle this anymore.

    January 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Khwaty

    I've watched the video, where is the yelling or him getting upset? President Clinton was smiling and point by point address the issue.

    January 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. michael Bump

    You who choose to play into the spin doctor games of the media are truly idiots. Where's the "goes off on the media again" bit? If you listen to him, Bill Clinton is intelligently explaining some very sound logic behind his response. There is no emotional blow up at the media – its a spin folks – a sound bite – a catchy caption to get your attention and sway your opinion. Bill Clinton is once again trying to get the attention off the crap that makes for good drama and fodder for the talking heads on your evening tv, and put it back on the topics that really affect people in this country. Obhama's not ready to be president yet, and I for one don't want him cutting his teeth on the gig while he's in office. The world can't afford to tutor him right now. Hillary has it all, and the guts to do it with. She will be our next president.

    January 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Charlie

    I watched this video clip. Bill Clinton's comments on the reporter(s) are absolutely right.

    January 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Nick

    CNN should be ashamed. Your headline that Clinton was visibly shaken by the comparison of him to Lee Atwater surely caught my attention; but after watching the video of the event, I conclude that CNN is an irresponsible purveyor of slander and distortion. At least you gave the video so we could see the facts for ourselves. However, based on your printed story, I will forever question CNN's description of facts and events and distrust your interpretation and presentation of news events.

    Whoever is now CNN's management has truly corrupted what used to be a high quality news organization. I thought the populist demagoguery and ignorance of badly educated Lou Dobbs was simply an anomoly to attract simplistic minds, but clearly his low brow approach to issues is shared by your writers and editors.

    CNN will no longer be my homepage. BBC.Co here I come!

    N.H. Riegg,Ph.D.
    Prof of Strategic Studies and
    Retired Diplomat

    January 23, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Eric

    Where is the press coverage of Obama getting mad at a ABC news reporter yesterday? Why only highlight Bill's getting upset at reporters?

    January 23, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. DIsgusted Independent

    I am fed up with these ping pongs between Obama and Clinton. Who started it is not the issue. They both need to STOP THIS. I was looking at the Democrats as a possibility this election but I am so fed up with this I am looking forward to a third party candidate someone like Lou Dobbs.

    January 23, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Jessica

    I agree with Bill Clinton – how is this news? "Bill gets mad at reporter" has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with selling ads. The same goes for much of the election coverage. If the news is meant to inform then where is the information??? Where is the substance? I'm sickened by the headline.

    January 23, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Fred

    Must be that vast right...oh wait, we're still in nomination mode, aren't we?

    January 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Maria Teresa

    You go Bill!!!
    America was doing fine with you...until that Bush Jr. came along....

    anyways,if Hilary becomes president,Bill will be the First Gentleman! haha

    January 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Linda~n~Wisconsin

    I read the story, then listened and watched the video. CNN is really putting a spin on this one. I don't see anything wrong with what the President said. In fact, I agree with him. Who better to handle the media than the Clintons?

    It should be interesting tonight to see how the media and pundits spin this one. I will bet that it overshadows the truth of what was really said in the video.

    January 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Tony Pereda

    All of you people need to understand one thing; Coporate America sponsored media is trying to generate conflict based on race and/or gender, between Hillary and Obama ,to divide Democratic party Americans. And all of you are following the "hype" like lambs being led to the slaughter in every generation. Hillary and Obama are both fabulous candidates. However, the GOP understands it can make a "case" to mainstream/midwest white America against Obama, if he wins based on race (black vs. white). Conversely, the GOP is confused about the basis for attack against Hillary because a gender approach won't work. The population stats still confirm 52% of registered voters are female. Wake up people! When you understand this....one understands Mr. Clinton's comments. How about a media hype generating conflict between Mormons and Christians? Don't hold your breath.....


    January 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. No Hillary '08

    Bill is starting to look like he's coming unglued. Both he and Hillary are completely nuts.

    January 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Huh?

    He wasn't mad at all. That was very straightforward.

    January 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. rw

    Bill Clinton, the most intelligent politician on the American scene today. I look so forward to seeing him in the White House 8 more years.

    Bill is only telling the reporter what so many have been crying about here in the blogs.

    But the reality is that as much as people write "stick to the issues" CNN, "tell us about their platform CNN", the majority love this kind of low politics. Let's face it, America is mainly comprised of ill-dressed, uncivil, rude, overweight, poorly informed or ill-informed lazies. Otherwise, why would our TV programming be so dimwit and our newspapers in peril. To quote Carl Bernstein, we live in the "idiot culture". And if you disagree, start from the top and reread the posts.

    January 23, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Mary, NY

    Grant and the rest of you should stop the nonesence because South Carolina should do the right thing and voter whomever they thing will improve your life. As of Bill Clinton, you all are wrong because every man should stand by his wife as every woman should stand by his husband. You all have forgotten when Bill campaigned for John Kerry and now that it is his wife, it is wrong but had it been that Hillary wasn't running you all will be asking that He support Obama. So stop making nothing out of moe hill. May the best person win. One thing for sure if Obama win South Carolina, he is not going to win CA, NY, PA, MT, MA etc.

    January 23, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Amy

    If you read CNN's news yesterday, they published a story about how CNN readers backlashed against an article which did mention race and gender (how were black women going to vote: for a woman or a black person?), as if black women did not care about the issues. Plenty of people responded angrily, saying the issues were the important thing to consider here, and how dare anyone specifically belittle black women by implying they would make such an important decision based on one of these two parameters. By the way, no one is wondering what your average white man is going to do: vote his gender or his race. So. The issue is one that people DO care about. CNN got its comeuppance from its readers. The reporter may have decided to connect the dots from this backlash with what Mr. Harpootlian suggested and pose the "touchy" yet pertinent question to Mr. Clinton to get a real response. His response sounds like he "doth protest too much" if you ask me, lashing out at the reporter with some pretty harsh accusations regarding her journalistic ethic, instead of answering the question or simply saying "that's not true." I guess it depends on what your definition of "is" is.

    January 23, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Tom Edwards Spring Hill Fl

    He's absolutely right . The news people have the chance to ask poignant and interrogatory questions but , instead at the debates throw softballs or bring up out of context meaningless slights by one campaign or the other to start a spitting match. Not one person at the debates asked how they were going to handle immigration reform , lobbyists , China trade , Hugo Chavez , —and all of these issues affect at the foundation , our ECONOMY!!!! Wake up . Are they , the powerful , once again going to be allowed to draw us into a racial divide , sparked by some well planted turncoats. ? After 59 years here I am growing remorsefully ashamed of us.

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

    Thank God for Bill Clinton. He is telling the truth to the hateful and lying media. Go get them Bill!

    January 23, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. Brenda VanAmburgh

    I am disgusted with the situation between the Clintons and Barak Obama . . . but not with either Hillary, Bill, or Barak. I am disgusted with your journalists who grossly exaggerate not only things that were said but the very manner in which they were said. CNN is very busy trying to stir up controversy among the candidates and I personally find this brand of jounalism repugnant. Can it even be called "journalism?" It makes you look bad indeed!!!

    January 23, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Kim B

    Dear Jim....the American in Paris...

    My friend...Barack Obama is not trying to "steal" anything... He is a fine candidate who is attempting to bring this country together...not just us Dems...but people from ALL sectors... The Clintons on the other hand are playing a game...more concerned about themselves than others. I don't disagree with Bill's thoughts on the media...I disagree with the way he has attacked the Obama campaign.. Barack tried to run a "mudless" campaign...I am frankly sick and tired of them and their "entitlement" attitude... Contrary to what Bill and Hillary think...I do not OWE them my vote!

    I am an Obama supporter...and if Hillary gets the nomination I am considering voting Republican...unbelievable... I am a DIE HARD DEM....but if I have to choose between a Republican and Hillary....I may go with the Republican...at least you know what you're getting...with HIllary you vote Dem and get a Republcan...

    January 23, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. Andrew Jay

    I'm on the fence right now on Clinton and Obama, but I feel both that Bill is getting too involved at this point. Save it for the general Bill, say in case your girl doesn't win, there will be less bad blood. YOU ARE WEARING OUT YOUR WELCOME WITH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS! Democrats, not just Hillary need to win the White House. But the drive-by media is giving this more attention than it needs with it's yellow journalistic headlines. We all know the media hates Bill Clinton, and they have for over 16 years by peddling the bs allegations from tramps paid by the Republican machine.

    January 23, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. Tom

    go hillary!!

    Hillary has been campaigning since 04."Slow and steady wins the race"

    Obama is "empty vessels make the most noice"

    go hillaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!

    January 23, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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