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. Carolyn Gray

    Thanks for proving once again that CNN will stoop VERY LOW indeed to grab attention and that you WILL NOT truly represent WE THE PEOPLE. 24/7 PROPAGANDA is ALL we get from CNN, FOX, and ANY of the equally corrupt mainstream media.

    IF THE CANDIDIATES WOULD STAND UP TO THE MEDIA LIKE THIS *MORE OFTEN* (R YOU LISTENING HILARY, JOHN, OBAMA, ETC.?) you would FORCE THEM (the media) to stop with the sensationalized hype propaganda and LIES –

    You could UNITE us on this one issue alone! ARE YOU REALLY AFRAID OF THE MEDIA?!!

    January 23, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. LPe

    I not a supporter of the Clinton campaign but I do agree with our former president on this clip. I don’t care how you look at this the message is clear and I think the former president is right on point. The media has embraced Obama because he gets good numbers and they see a way to spin the election in a way that they feel will peak American interest and in the short run that may be so but as the former president said the people of America aware that we are facing real issues about the continuation of the America we can continue to be proud to be a part of or a land of Kings and Serfs. We have tough choices as we look for a leader that can bring about the changes necessary to restore our country a true land of opportunity for all men and women. I don’t see that in any one candidate at this time but I do see that the plans laid out by both the Edward’s and Clinton campaign have more promise for success than that of Obama’s. This is not about celebrity or at least shouldn’t be although that is what the media would have us believe as political reports look more and more like the entertainment section with the he said she said sound bites. Would it not serve the American people better if the news around the campaign trail was about the feasibility of each of the candidates plans and proposals and the impact on each and every one of us as citizens in this country. I for one care deeply about this election not because of who the candidates are in regard to race and gender but why they want to lead this country and the likelihood of their success in fulfilling their plans as president. Hat’s off Mr. Former President

    January 23, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  3. Eric

    And why does CNN not report on the fact that Michelle Obama twice blew off reporters at campaign events today? If Bill had done that the media would have been upset about that as well.

    January 23, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. Robert Stanwell

    "I spent my whole life fighting those people" what is this election is all about to the clintons is fighting those people till death. Now, they are not hiding it and the press understand them; they want to resume fighting those people they have been fighting all their life. Too bad for America.

    January 23, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. tracey

    Can you say biased reporting, CNN?

    It's so frustrating to see through all of this Clinton bashing and be totally helpless to do anything. I hope the American people are stupid enough to believe this news angle and vote based on it. Please have some common sense and vote for true change and experience.

    January 23, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. 1 more 4 Clinton

    "Bill Clinton gets upset with CNN reporter" is false and misleading. He maintained composure in the face of what I consider to be an irrelevant question and inflammatory question.

    Why doesn’t CNN present the news more like Reuters and less like Fox.

    Your shareholders will be just fine if you focus on the issues that really matter to Americans. You know health care, education and the economy.

    I will vote for the Clintons, so they can start reversing some of the damage the village idiot has been doing for the last 7 years.

    January 23, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. CE, Wisconsin, USA

    He has tried this angry routine before every primary. While president he did the same thing everytime he lied to America and a Grand Jury.

    January 23, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. mark

    He's right...the media is too powerful and highly subjective...especially CNN. I can't believe I'm defending the Clintons.

    January 23, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Andy

    As much as I dislike both the Clinton and Obama camps, I have to say Clinton is right. The whole story, from the setup with the question to CNN's headline of the article are blatantly bad journalism. The fact that CNN even has this up under the title 'Bill Clinton gets upset' and subtitles the video 'Bill Clinton lashes out at reporter' is proof that its not credible journalism. CNN needs to disguise their falling standards better.

    January 23, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. Mara

    I think President Clinton has a point. I watch a lot of CNN (I mean A LOT) and of all the reporters I see, there seem to be many with a real slant towards Mr. Obama and away from the Clintons. In fact, even before I read this article, Ms. Yellin seemed to me to be one of the most fervent of the Obama acolytes. Perhaps there should be a little more responsible reporting and a little less Obama Kool-Aid imbibing. Can we just get back to the issues?

    January 23, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Ron Lanoue

    You prove the former President's points by the headline you use to identify the story. YOU should be ashamed of yourselves. YOU the media are about to do as sorry a job as you did in the 2000 race and you see what that got US!!!!!! YOU are doing more to undermine this Republic than Al Quada could ever do. Play your role with some intellect and integrity not with the bottom line always at the top. I could do a better job than most all of your reporters. HIre someone who knows the history of this country and has some critical thinking skills. Again, YOU should be ashamed.

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

    Readers, watch the video clip and tell me whether the title "Bill Clinton gets upset with CNN reporter" makes sense. CNN is fast catching up as an online tabloid rag. The stakes in this election are so high – the faltering dollar, a slumping economy, a sorry health care system, a much needed immigration reform, among others. Please try to practice good journalism for the sake of our nation. Let the tabloids do their work. This is not CNN I used to know.

    January 23, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Tom, St. Paul

    A CNN reporter? Wait a minute, I'm confused! After reading these forums for so many months, I thought it was CNN's agenda to elect Hillary! Those posters couldn't possibly be wrong, could they???

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

    I'd say Clinton has plenty to be "angry" about.

    Eight years of ridiculous investigations, over 70 million dollars in taxpayer money spent?

    The eight years he ran the show we had a pretty good ride...especially considering what we have right now.

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

    It's amazing that the Clinton haters don't see the hypocrisy through all the vitriol. Yuo all love someone who voyed "present" hundreds of times then comes up with a squirrely excuse as to why he did it. Yeah, I want the POTUS to not take hundreds of stands. That's leadership...not! Obama the empty suit.

    January 23, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. Wendy, CA

    This is a campaign people, all those Obama supporters have to stop whinning! If the roles were reversed, and Obama had a famous spouse, they would be doing the same. Please stop pretending that you all are above it, actually, its Obama campaign always crying, she did this, he said that...oh PLEASE, GROW UP!! BTW, why is new media always defending Obama, like he can't do any wrong...actually come to think of it, he haven't done much, just give speeches, and nothing much else, if you care to do some actual research.

    January 23, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Me Me

    If Hillary needs Bill this strong she should be home baking cookies.

    January 23, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. charlotte

    I watched the video, read the comments and some people just make mountains out of mole hills, I thought he handled it very professionally. Why is the press even giving creedence to this? We will have a stock market crash if we leave it to the press to tell us we are. People only see what they want to see. On the one hand, Edwards makes a big deal about Hillary not being in S Carolina. Then they say their running against two of them. Well she left half of herself there. The problem is he attracts a lot of attention and that's just not fair to Michelle. Obama needs to bring Oprah back and keep her on the trail. Let her take some of the same types of questions.

    January 23, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Daisy

    Do any Democratic strategists read these comments? I hope so–I'm a voter in Ohio who thought she would vote for Hilary, but I'm very turned off by Bill Clinton's "angry" attempts at intimidating people. He gave a cool-headed response to the reporter's question, which I respected, until he started some kind of act of trying to control people with anger. It really makes me want to vote for Obama, but I'm mad at the way he really did twist Hillary's comments about LBJ. So maybe I'll split this baby in half, like King Solomon. Maybe I'll vote for John Edwards.

    January 23, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. Marie

    PS: Way to go Jessica Yellin! Bill needs to start being accountable and shut the hell up! Keep up the great work CNN!

    January 23, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. franc

    Where can we find a credible news source. It's not CNN or Fox. There's no congruence between the headlines and the videos. I'm so disenchanted with Obama, I would now rather vote for any other candidate. He refutes, but does not support, any allegations against him. Hillary Clinton tried to keep the debates and the rhetoric on the high road from the very beginning. After countless attacks, Obama left her no choice but to defend herself. Now he accuses her of running a negative campaign. Sensing his waning support, his speeches now sound like a preacher on a pulpit. That may work in South Carolina but it will hurt him the long run. He, not Hillary is playing the race card. When I first heard him speak at the Democratic Convention, I was so impressed. That’s when nothing was at stake. Where did that Obama go? Wouldn’t we all like to know who’s responsible for the emails accusing him of being Muslim? It could be from Republicans or even Obama supporters. He’s relentlessly playing up the issue, playing the martyr. Why can’t he take the high road and say he is a Christian, not a Muslim and leave it at that, instead of constantly playing it up in the press and insulting all Muslims in the process. There are good and bad people in every religion. President Clinton has it right when he states the press is more than willing to spin anything that comes out of the Obama camp. The press is like a pack of wolves. They should be reporting truthful news and not making it.

    January 23, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. tammy

    How about all the democratic voters in Florida who don't get to vote? How about us?! We didn't do anything wrong, but we don't get to vote, and Clinton supports this. No democrat in Florida gets to vote in the primary. All of us have been disenfranchised by our own party, including Clinton (Both of them), Obama, and Edwards. I don't want to hear him crying about the voters in South Carolina and Nevada when he actively supports this nonsense!

    January 23, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  23. Christian, Tampa FL

    Someone needs to shut this man up. He may have been a better President than Bush is, but let's not forget that his actions also divided the nation and that his politics are hardly clean. The Clintons represent four to eight more years of political division in this country. Obama, Edwards, and even people like John McCain represent a new phase in politics and an end to the ridiculous Bush/Clinton dynastic cycle. I'm tired of the Bushes AND the Clintons.

    January 23, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  24. Adam

    Do you know how to tell if a politician is lying? His lips are moving. The Clintons are clearly willing to play any number of political games in order to win.
    This reminds me of what Bush's people did to John McCain during the 2000 election questioning his military service. It distracted John McCain and the voters, essentially derailing his campaign.
    Sofar, it looks to be having the same effect on Barack Obama. I hope he can rise above their level.
    I also wouldn't be surprised if the emails going around about Obama's faith originated from a Clinton supporter(or advisor).

    January 23, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. Chris, Orlando, FL

    OH C'MON, CNN!!!

    "Bill Clinton Gets Upset with CNN Reporter"...

    What kind of headline is this!?!?!?

    You guys need to STOP IT with the inflammatory and FALSE headlines. President Clinton was merely explaining why the media feeds stories to the public, and because it probably rubbed your producers the wrong way, you have to throw him under the bus with a bogus headline??? Get real. There was no heated exchange, no rise in the President's blood pressure. You guys just want a racy headline. Your news reporting during this election cycle has been scurrilous at best.

    January 23, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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