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. aware

    Bill Clinton, friend of voters. He is keeping the media honest! CNN You are beginning to sound land act like Fox Noise. I do watch the International News. 🙂
    Go ahead and moderate this guys.

    January 23, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  2. Tom

    Bill has it right. All of these so called news stations are mainly scandle sheet reporters, not much above the so called reality shows.
    Our nation is loseing out because of that non-sense.

    January 23, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  3. Jimmy, Oklahoma Feb. 5th

    CNN will tell us who Arizona Governor endorses, (Obama, of coarse if CNN told you), So where is it that. A very well known Governor of Delegate rich state of Pennsylvania endorses Senator Clinton. CNN your BAIS has made you very dis liked by many. You now have NO creditability, You are trying to drive the news rather then report it. No matter how much mud you throw at the Clintons and how much cushion you give Obama.

    We in Oklahoma are still voting for Senator Clinton. A state where Obama is coming in at a distant third.

    "Hillary 2008"

    January 23, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. tam/Stone Mountain.GA

    I AM a Black female and I believe Bill Clinton is right. Obama need to just stay on his message. If he thinks his record is not being represented correctly he need to speak out and correct it. There is nothing wrong with your opponent bringing up issues that you should have to clarify. Obama needs to stop complaining about what is being said about him. It has nothing to do with race.

    I am sure in Nevada that there was intimidation by union reps with hotel employees it does not mean that Obama's campaign was involved. Clinton has every right to Campaign for his wife and speak out. Everyone who competes for the White House looks for a Heavyweight and Hillary happens to be married to one. Obama has to find his own.

    I like Obama, but plan to vote for Hillary. If Obama is having a hard time with the comments from Clinton how is he ever going to handle the Republicans when the real show begins.

    January 23, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  5. Keeping it real

    The republicans wer the real friends to blacks in the 90's, not Bill Clinton. He only used them to get what he really wanted. I think we know enough about what that was (is) to not even have to mention it. The republicans are the ones who ran the country when they took control of both houses in congress during Clintons administration. The poverty level blacks and whites were pushed off the welfare rolls and many benefitted monetarily because of republican policies aimed at giving big business more tax breaks. The problem with that is that it never last for long. The more money the rich get, the more they want, and the less they're willing to fairly share with those who rightly deserve more. How many intrens will Bill get his hands on this time if democrats and then america puts him back into the White House? Hell, Hillary doesn't care as long as she gets what she wants. And further more, the Clintons said it was fun, cool, or lovely to have this type of pervasive politics? Democrates, it's your chance that you're throwing away on the Clintons. Do you really think that those who can effect some favorable outcome will run 20 other parties in this race to keep the Clintons out. No monarchy's please! Enough is enough. Get out Obama with your integrity intact. If america is crazy enough to nominate the Clintons again, let em have them and pull up your stakes and go independent. It's the best thing for the country. Wanting a democrat in the White House is no good reason to continue to trash the country. White against black, rich against poor, women against men. Sounds about right. More Clintons.

    January 23, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |

    I lost all my respect for this SHAMELESS man, and "the Clintons" in general.

    January 23, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  7. Teni

    This guy is losing it. "I am hear to help you take back your righteous mind, because obviously you have lost it...."

    January 23, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  8. Tracy

    Why are no one complaining on how Clinton left SC for her has been husband President to campaign for her...now thats tacky poliitics.

    I am really getting turned off by the Democrates.

    January 23, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. Ian


    I can't believe this country is so in love with 2 families we're seriously thinking about electing them for 6 consecutive presidencies!

    But why even stop there? If you like Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton... you'll LOVE Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush (Jeb)... and on and on! What's next – Chelsea vs. Jenna??


    January 23, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. vaughn

    I've been saying this for the longest, reporters seem so "amazed" by Obama that they are refusing to look at his record. There is nothing wrong with Bill or Hill or anyone asking Obama questions about his record. I've noticed that Obama is a wonderful speaker, but confronted with an unflattering question and he fumbles then complains about them getting "negative". No offense, any question you don't like is negative.

    And can someone please tell me as a African-American, what the Clintons said the may have been "racist" or "race baiting" or even offensive to African-Americans,
    because I've been looking and can't find anything

    January 23, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  11. Jon

    If Mrs. Clinton is elected, is she going to fall back on the former President to fight her battles with North Korea, Iran, Al Qaeda?

    Although I don't support her, I was somewhat enthused about the prospect of the first woman President, but if her performance on the campaign trail is any example of her "leadership" abilities, I'm disappointed.

    January 23, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  12. Ms. E

    Clinton is full of it. Those Civil Rights Advocates he mentioned John Lewis and Andrew Young are so feeble about their own existence that they are caught up in a time wrap and if you asked them to speak/vote their consciousness they would go with Barak. Clinton is playing black on black (as in crime) trying to pit them against one another and then come out with such stupidity to point the finger. If there was ever a Simon LeGree (sp?) as in Uncle Tom's Cabin he could play it on the read carpet. But of course, he knows more about red carpets then any of us and he knows how to disgrace the American Public with the undertone to have a free-fall sexapade on the red carpet in our White House. It's the same on shoe shuffling. He's trying to appease his wife and stay involved in his 100 year plan but it won't work this time or ever in the future. It’s over Bill. You not the Black President and you wasted our time being the White President. Stop it!

    January 23, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  13. ees

    It's about time that Bill Clinton remind you the media that your reporting should be fair. It seems that Obama's negative attacks against the Clintons are not being reported as much as the Clintons responses to Obama's attack of Hillary. Bill Clinton as Hillary's husband campaigns for her same as what Michelle Obama does for her husband. Why does Obama say that he is fighting both the Clintons? Would it be fair for Hillary to say that she is fighting both Obama and Oprah or both Obama and Michelle? Now we are seeing that he is no better than any other politician, tricky, childish and is going the distance to inject race and division in the democratic party. Obama, you can talk so much about change and hope but with nothing to back it up, it stays simply as empty rhetoric. We need a strong and qualified leader that would tackle this big mess that GWB will leave behind and that capable leader is Hillary.

    January 23, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  14. ET

    I am not necessarily a Clinton fan, but the man was not upset, he did not behave inappropriately, and what he said was right, both in principle and in context. CNN has a right to be partisan, but when it goes to such lengths it loses the privilege of being credible.

    January 23, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  15. keiko

    I'm a Japapnese woman living in Japan. Everyday I check CNN.com and video
    about this presidensial election of America. I also think Bill Clinton speaks too much. Hillary will be able to stand and win this race by herself! so, please be quiet and just stay with her, Bill.

    January 23, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  16. Joyce Todd

    It is beyond me how anyone cannot see the "tactics" of the Clintons. It should be old news by now...Think back.. This have been in the planning stage for the Clintons for many years.. What real experience can Hillary claim except being a Senator in NY for the past few years? Does it not seem somewhat odd that a Presidents wife would just "decide" to run for Senator of

    January 23, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. chad b



    January 23, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  18. chuck

    Bill Clinton makes Lee Atwater look like an honorable human being. At least Atwater ended up regretting the things he did and expressed remorse for his despicable actions. Bill Clinton has no moral fiber whatsoever - no sense of right and wrong and will never regret any of the repugnant things he's done to seize or hold on to power!

    January 23, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. Isaacs

    Give limit range to avoid that.

    January 23, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  20. Jose Card - Independent

    Who is the racist?

    We all are to certain degree. I sort of remember this line in the Bible.
    'He That Is Without Sin Among You, Let Him First Cast a Stone.'

    Let's move on so Obama can get inspirational again.

    I don't know why Bill is so eager to protect Hillary's honor in his own words after he repeatedly trashed hers.

    January 23, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. Ray Spix

    Stut your face Billy....Get back with your Binbo's and get your knob polished.
    Obama will ban you from your continued lying.

    January 23, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. dee

    Not chill Bill loosing his cool.

    The clintons are loosing more that polls.

    Loosing Votes

    Edwards not Obama will be a hillary's spoiler.

    Many of the forgotten White voters are swaying his direction.

    Obama 08

    January 23, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  23. raghu

    cnn please be fair and allow the comment that are pointed at you.

    January 23, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  24. AtlantaVoter

    He's right. The media keeps us slogged in the antics of the campaign and ignores the issues.

    And I did not see him as "angry." I think it makes a better story for CNN to say he was angry but what he did was this: he answered her question, he pointed out that it had absolutely nothing to do with the meeting she had just covered and he told her where to go for the facts. Oh wait....it's not the facts they want. Silly me.

    All we seem to read in the news is titillations about the campaign. Shame on you, CNN.

    Hillary Clinton 2008

    January 23, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  25. Petra Blackett

    You've got to be kidding. Jessica Yellin's characterization of Clinton's response as being upset–when it appears calm and measured–is clearly a case of a reporter wanting to BE the news rather than report th news.

    January 23, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
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