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. Lily

    President Clinton is right, CNN and the other major news corporations should focus on the issues and not on name calling.

    And by the way, stop going along with Oprah! She should be ashamed of herself that not once did she ask the first woman to win a primary in the US history, to be in her show. She has made billions off of women's issues and what does she offer us? Another Harvard graduate Male that promises to be bipartisan candidate...

    We know which one is your favorite but no need to make it so obvious. Leave us space to make up our own minds about who is telling the truth and why.

    January 23, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. On the Obama Train, Florida

    Hilary needs to stop attacking everything that Obama says and stop searching thru everything in his past and start to tell the voters what she is going to do since she told Bill what to do when he was in office. It's hard for Obama tell which Clinton he is running against. She is just using the media to get people to feel sorry for her by crying one day and looking like a raving lunatic the next when she gets caught in her lies. The Clintons are rattled because they know Obama is the man for the Presidency.

    January 23, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. Patrick, New York, NY

    Bill Cinton is absolutley right! All you Cnn reporters are turning this into a race based election! Dividing the Dems on racial lines is counter productive to winning in 08! Shame on the Media for not keeping it on the issues!

    January 23, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. Mjlovett

    It is time for Bill Clinton to step out of the election because he is not a candidate. There is enough bs going on in the world without the presidential candidacy turning into a circus. People are concerned with the ISSUES and not the personal childish immature games that Clinton, Clinton and Obama are playing. The voters sure don't need a toddler daycare running our country. As far as Bill Clinton and his tit for tat jabs he needs to let his wife run for the office she is trying to get not try dirty politics and smut tactics. If this is what they want then maybe the entire smut he was involved in should be a story for CNN to bring up in the dig for dirt campaign. The American people don't deserve to listen to this playground junk.... As for Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and Obama either get with the program or pull out of the race. This is pathetic political garbage.

    January 23, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. Jonathan Simeone Seattle, Wa

    This is why we must be done with the Clintons! I am an Edwards supporter, but I would vote for my dog before I voted for Hillary Clinton. At least he is not a dishonest liar. Anyone, but Hillary!

    January 23, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. Chris

    CNN...can you guys for a change become real journalist and help us find the right candidate on the basis of ability, knowledge, understanding, worldwide relationships and courage to stand against the lobbyists in Washington. I think if you started looking at these things, very soon there wouldn't be any story because Hillary beats Obama on all counts. We are now seeing what faith based policies do to a country. Our military is all over the world and economy is tanking.

    January 23, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Obama apparently has a new slogan


    Poor baby.

    And CNN definitely whips it into a frenzy. Back off CNN. You are very very Republican and working at destroying all Democratic credibility so the Republicans can take the election in November.

    January 23, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  8. ropol, Wyo

    How unseemly is this...the candidate who seeks to be the first woman president is relying on her HUSBAND to get the job...and the man called "America's first black president' i.e. Bill Clinton...is going to extremes to make sure America will not have a real black president! I love Bill Clinton but this has gone too far, gotten too wierd and the Democratic nominee will pay the price, expecially if it is the woman who needed her man to get the nomination.

    January 23, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. Robin

    CNN, my comment has been pending for 2.5 hours. Please post it. Here it is again:

    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 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. Il Teacher

    This is sad. I remeber the days I could count on CNN to report the news. I hope CNN can return to reporting political issue and quit sensationalizing sound bites that no one is interested in. I am glad my mom, who was a CNN junkie, did not live to see this very sad day.

    January 23, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. Rick

    People: Bill's response was calculated. He gets questions like this from the press all day every day since the back and forth started. Why respond to this question and why now? Because it is politically expedient. Like all Clinton moves, this response/reaction was planned, including his "race card" allegation.

    January 23, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  12. Monique from California

    President Clinton, it is time to stop disrespecting your wife. The press is more consumed by your word slinging than by your wife's message. You are over shadowing your wife and she is walking three steps behind you. What happened to Women's Lib? I fear a HILLbill win would really by a 3rd term Bill win. If Bill wants to run, than announce your candidacy and do so. Otherwise, you have minimized any intelligence Hillary may have. I vote Obama because I vote for CHANGE, Respect and dignity. Pay attention Clinton's, so you won't miss it.

    January 23, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  13. Kay

    CNN..."Shame On You!" You made the pitch for the story like President Clinton really lost his temper. I felt he made his point calmly and without "yelling" at Jessica Yellin. Stop the spinning!!!

    January 23, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  14. Matt B.

    Welcome to the REAL "national pastime," Bill!

    January 23, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  15. melissa

    Go Hillary Go Bill, you should defend yourselves....now I am starting to think CNN is really biased ....they only have negative comments about the Clintons....THIS IS PERHAPS WHY MANY PEOPLE ARE NOW STARTING TO GO AGAINST THE CLINTONS.....THIS SHOULD STOP...I AM NOT AGAINST OBAMA OR ANYTHING..THE POINT IS THAT CNN AND MSNBC AND THE OTHER NEWS SHOULD FOCUS ON RRREALLLL ISSUES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    THIS SHOULD STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 23, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Eye Opener

    Has anyone watched the accompanying video to this article? Bill Clinton's demeanor belies the headline! He did not seem upset, he answered the reporter's questions with facts! But then again, sensational headlines sell, and it does not matter at whose expense.

    It is precisely this type of reporting that fans the flames of racism and gender bias, using comments from a black democrat referencing a republican pundit and giving it credence and airtime to inflame public opinion.

    Wake up people! Do not let the media decide for you. Americans are smart enough to discuss and understand issues without being influenced by reporters out to make headlines.

    Reporters are people too, they have prejudices and as much as they do not like to admit it, they do have favorite candidates and it shows. People need to be aware and do their own research instead of relying on what's being put out there. The stakes are too high.

    January 23, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. Matt

    Go Bill go! CNN had it coming. Please report the issues and candidates positions. This is a poor reflection of CNN not the Clintons.

    January 23, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Don

    There have been so many nasty comments about Obama's drug use. Gee I wonder what Hillary was doing while Bill was smoking dope and not inhaleing.


    January 23, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. EM

    Bill and Hilary, we can't wait to see you guys back in the White House.

    January 23, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  20. Xeno

    Clinton didn't "lash out" at your reporter. He schooled the girl very calmly and clearly and made her look like the tool she is. When reporters go running after idiot talking points from political operatives, the deserve to have their lies refuted and to be called on their agendas. That is exactly what Bill Clinton did to yellin, and bravo to him for doing it.

    January 23, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. Cathy

    This is the fun part Bill! Thought you liked to play hard and fast with the truth. You should be right in your element... in the dirt. You make me ashamed to be a Democrat. I hope you lose the election... I mean I hope Hillary loses the election.

    January 23, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. Micahel Guinn, Ventura, CA

    The more he talks, the less I regard him as my favorite President in my lifetime. This is sad and it says much to the American people.
    The republicans are SUPPOSED to be the ones taking things out of context or spitting out half-truths to promote fear- Shame on you Bill!

    January 23, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  23. Mobley

    Since "the clintons" are the ones with red faces, record destortions and wagging fingers....maybe the media is not directing the frustions at the wrong candidate.

    January 23, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. Hype

    THIS is news?

    I can't believe CNN is this desperate. CNN seriously needs to clean up its act and stop acting like a tabloid. Bill Clinton is 100% right. Take a lesson from him and be grateful for it.

    January 23, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  25. steve

    Bill Clinton was exactly right.
    Questions like the reporter asked are part of the news media being used to create a FREAK SHOW.

    CNN and the other major outlets are doing a disservice to our country.
    This time, I won't be back to CNN.

    January 23, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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