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. Marc

    I do think Bill is absolutely opening his mouth too much and is hurting Hillary, but he is RIGHT. The liberal media, and even Fox News wants Obama to win the nomination. Hillary has been made to look much worse than she is by the media over the past decade. I honestly see NO EVIDENCE that she is the mean spirited person you all make her out to be! I'm voting for her. Experience over Chance in 08.

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

    this country need new law to restrict the Bill Clinton's behavior. also we need a constitutional ammendement to prohibit family and spouses from holding teh presidency. It might be Obama's first job next year when he get into the oval office.

    January 23, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  3. Your Daddy

    Do you really think CNN favors a particular Democratic candidate? What would CNN have to gain by supporting Obama or anyone else for that matter? Do you really think CNN is biased toward liberal or conservative in the same way Faux News firmly occupies the far right wing? Some individual reporters may have left leanings (Peter Arnett is a good example who was fired when his reporting became sloppy) but as an institiution you cannot say CNN is left wing. Give everyone a break. Half of these comments in these blogs make me fear for the future and explains how we got eight years of Bush.

    All of you quit blaming the media for your own failure to go and get information for yourselves. Ultimately, you have to filter out the truth from what is simply meant to influence. Sort the propaganda from what is real.

    In my experience, the only telvision media with an overtly biased agenda is Faux 'News,' so much so they feel the need to go out of their way to say that they're fair and balanced! Just like Clinton when she says she isn't telling lies about Obama's record! How naive many of us Americans are!

    January 23, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  4. Harv in CA

    How pathetic. The Clintons are nothing more than egotistical carpetbaggers who could not comprehend the meanings of words like "character" or "integrity" even if they had someone explain it to them – it would be like speaking a foreign language. "I NEVER had sexual relations with that woman!" – some Americans remember that slap in the face. No one wants to hear about these issues he says? Wrong – LOTS of us do – we're called Republicans and we care about character issues, because without character – nothing else matters. These people are dirt-bags.

    January 23, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  5. Leonie O'Meally

    I am an African American female and I must tell you that I am disappointed with the biased way that CNN reports on the campaign of Clinton and Obama. You all make the Clintons to look like the villians and Obama as the hero. You point specifically what the Clintons do that are negative, but never what Obama does. I watched the debate in its entirety, and know for a fact that obama was the first one to throw the punch telling Clinto about what he did while she sat on the board of Walmart. Clinton responded with reminding Obama about working for a slum lord. It's as if you reporters are doing exactly what Bill Clinton said. You should be reporting both sides equally, but you are not doing that. You should be asking Obama what he is going to do for the American people besides change and hope. What will he change? How will we aqccomplish the hope.

    You are the same people who put George Bush in power because you fell in love with him and neglected to ask questions that matter. Look at what he did to the country and the world. SHAME ON YOU!!

    Leonie O'Meally

    January 23, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  6. brightofeyes

    CNN. Great TV channel. be smart. be accurate. be justice. I love you very much.

    January 23, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. Ryan, FL

    I'm a "moderate" Republican. I would never vote for Hillary Clinton and out of the Democrats running, my preference is for Senator Obama. I also believe Hillary Clinton is the master "spinster" and I simply don't trust her. But Senator Obama also has a responsibility to be accurate.

    After listening to the reporters question, what President Clinton said does have merit. And here, I think, substanative journalism takes yet another hit. We are a country of the lobbyist. We are a country of record distortion. We are a country of political polarization. We are a country of the soundbyte.

    We are a country of media sensationalism.

    And in my mid-30's, even I know this is no longer the country of Walter Cronkite media values. I do remember how news used to be, however. Speaking for many Americans, I wish we could go back to those days. News Flash! In today's world, media "substance" actually sells!

    Very critical issues loom about the economy, the environment & our foreign policy. Voters and issues should lead the way in determining what the media covers and how they cover it. Not entertainment or "sensationalistic" value.

    I respect President Clinton and I find many of his viewpoints wise. Senator Obama WAS right when he said there were lessons to be learned from one of our greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan.

    But let's remember that wisdom can come from both sides of the political spectrum.

    Ultimately, the media will give people what they want. It is therefore the responsibility of voters to demand substance from the media. And it is the responsibility of the media to take note of this.

    Finally, because I do feel sorry John Edward's name never gets equal time; a sidebar:

    John Edwards is running for President too. : )

    January 23, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  8. Stephanie

    The Democrats are perfecting in-fighting and have no time, energy or ambition to run a country, let alone a superpower. The Democrats are so busy battling each other that they are their own opposition party. If elected, the Democrats will run the country the same way they are running their party now. In Chaos. Vote Republican.

    January 23, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. ln

    I am not an American. But I have watched this presidential elections for a time. Clearly, CNN is behind Obama and always report good news bout Obama, but bad news on Hillary. Look, here. Most of the comments are in favor of Obama. I didn't see any good comments about Hillary. Something is wrong with CNN. Previously, CNN was NO.1 in my heart. Now, it is trash. I don't believe it any more.When my husband wanted to subsribe to CNN, I told him to stop it. Such a big liar! I don't want to watch it every day.

    By the way, I think Bill is right. People just see what Hillary did to Obama, but nobody said anything what Obama has done to Hillary. How unfair !!! Obama is a big talker and talks about change. what to change, how to change, does he have any idea of it? Nothing. Another liar!!!

    January 23, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. joe





    January 23, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. Bella

    Bill, I voted for you twice. But Jeez Louis...do you really feel qualified to lecture someone on shame?

    January 23, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  12. yvonne

    CNN at one time I felt sorry for you because FOX kept kicking your behind in the rating, not no more, you are just as bias as FOX. You and MSNBC highlight what Obama in a positive way and Hillary in a negative way. SHAME ON YOU CNN.

    January 23, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  13. D'Gena Thompson

    Bill Clinton is right on the money when he says that the media should pay more attention to the issues that are important to this campaign rather than playing up the race and gender element. I, for one, am sick of hearing about so much discussion pertaining to how the black vote will influence the outcome or how having the woman running for president will make a difference. And it seems that John Edwards get less Media attention than Hilliary Clinton and Barack Obama. the truth is that the media's twists on how these things get interpreted and reported on can go a long way in influencing how people think about the candidates and how they decide to vote. I have been a supporter of John Edwards even before this campaign, I wish that he had been the candidate for the Democratic Party instead of John Kerry. I think he should have been. We might have seen a different outcome in the last election had that been the case. I really have nothing against Hilliary Clinton either nor Obama but John Edwards is the only one that can honestly lay claim to the fact that he can fight and win against special interests groups because he has never taken a dime from any of them. Whats more, I believe he will do it if he is given the chance. So pay attention to him too.

    January 23, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  14. NickNas

    Bill is OFFICIALLY now known to me as the WHINER & LIAR I am ashamed I fought so hard for him.

    January 23, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  15. Ibeam

    Dear Barak,

    It is clear that the Clintons are trying to define you as a nitch candidate and in their own perverted way use this against you in the election. The Clintons believe that if they can define you as an African American candidate then White and Brown America will not vote for you. Many of the talking heads of their generation are echoing the same story. The popular thought is if the Clintons are successful in this mission then they will win the Dem primary and the general election. Barak, the Clintons are wrong and their strategy is dated. Barak, you are an African American, but that is not why people are voting for you. They are voting for you because of who you are and what you are all about.

    America is ready for the change that you have been talking about. This change comes in many forms. Yes clearly we want a change in the politics, but also we want a change in the way in which people interact with each other in this country. Americans are voting for you because we believe you can lead us through this needed period of change. We need leaders that try to call us to a higher purpose vice those that try to appeal to our animal instincts.

    The Clintons and others like them are lost in the past of racial and gender divide, dishonest political rhetoric and campaigns by any means necessary to win. This type of politics has led us into an unneeded battle ground in Iraq, ruined our reputation in the world and has left our government in Washington paralyzed.

    Barak, the Clinton political play is based on a thought that America is a land filled with people that when pressed will discard the content of a person’s character and side with their color or their sex. We are better than that, look at what is happening in your campaign. Women and men, people of all colors and beliefs, young and old, rich and poor, they all see something more than just your color. They see you and what you stand for.

    Let the Clintons play their game against the American people. This is just another example of the flawed judgment of the Clintons. Hillary is not prepared to govern a country that can see beyond race and sex. She is not ready to bring people together for the common good. Bill Clinton can not get out of the way of his ego and see that the country is ready to move forward and that we need a leader that has the vision to help guide us through these uncharted waters.

    Often we do not realize that we are fighting our current war with the battle plans from our past wars until it is too late. The Clintons have been planning this campaign for years, but they fail to see the current battlefield as it looks today. It is clear to me that the Clintons are waging this campaign with their battle plans from the 90’s not against you but against the American people. Lift your voice once again, share your plans and dreams with us. You ask us to believe in you…Now I ask you to believe in America….The Clinton’s will not succeed, we are a better country then that.

    January 23, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  16. stan pitts pa

    when bill campaigns for his wife so negatively, he sets the feminism movement 50 yrs back!

    January 23, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  17. soheir

    if Helliry can't make it on her own I am not giving her my vote , is like a little kid when it gets tough in the street he cries dady.

    January 23, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  18. mavis dandridge

    I once liked Bill Clinton. Don't anymore. Was never too crazy about Hillary. I will vote for Obama not Hillary Clinton. I think Black people are seeing the real and true Bill Clinton. I never got with the 'first Black President' thing. Anyway, unless there is some back room deal going on (and I'm beginning to think so), Hillary is going to get whipped by whatever Republican gets the nod. I simply do not like Hillary Clinton.

    January 23, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  19. steve o

    "CNN has turned into Obama version of FNC" really

    The role of the media is inform and educated the public, even if it means taking side.
    Bill Clinton has always been known to lie alot and continously. In your face kind of lie. Have you all forgotten "I did not have sex with that woman"

    The best the media can do for its audience is to challenge clintons on their inaccuracies. If the clintons believe obama is spreading false accusations against them they should point them out.

    I know Clinton will win the nomination by playing the dirty, but to her surprise more than 30 to 40% of democrats will vote for Mccain in the general election.

    No one is going to listen to them, when they start complaing of right wing conspiracy


    January 23, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  20. just joe

    Lee Atwater?
    Give Me A Break
    We Are Not Discussing Ancient History history here.

    January 23, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  21. mary

    hi my name is Mary and i think the media will jump any dirty rope and stoop to any low degree to put a story together. i am a black woman who just happens to like Hillary and Obama.
    i think what president Clinton said is the truth as it ralates to the media. You will do anything to make a person look bad and diminish someones character. The media does not speak for the black community . we are more than capable of making up our own minds about who we will vote for. We do not just vote for a person because of their race. This nation is in a bad shape and we are concerned about the issues that affect us. Who ever the candidate is that we feel will address those issues whelther white or black, woman or man, we will intelligently vote for them. STOP CHOOSING OUR CANIDATES FOR US. WE ARE CAPABLE OF MAKING OUR OWN MINDS UP.

    January 23, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  22. GGilby

    Obama vs. Clinton:

    No one has mentioned anything about Clinton repeatedly calling her opponent 'bama during their feuding Democratic Debate. If it were anyone else, they would be called to the floor for being disrespectful.

    For both of them, who wants a president who can only participate in debates sounding like old drunk, married couples. Who are they trying to impress showing that they can argue in public? All you need is Jerry Springer to run the lights and for the Debates to run during the afternoon or late night hours!! Let Geraldo and Bill Clinton join in for a broken nose – and we'll have a complete Prime Time event for WWE!

    Can we please have a REAL presidential debate worth listening too??? If I wanted to listen to children squabbling, I'd watch Supernanny!

    Lastly, in discussing the debates with others 'of the public', it is interesting to learn just how FEW people (women in particular) who are aware that Hillary is NOT the first woman to run as a US presidential candidate. In researching history since 1870, the first female ran for US president candidature in 1872. The first in either the Republican or Democratic parties ran in 1964 – she was a Republican. And, the first African American woman was Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm in 1972 – a Democrat. I'm very proud of our lady of African decent!! It took a lot of guts!! Wonder if Oprah learned about her in her research for her Legends' Ball – which I absolutely loved!!

    God bless all.

    January 23, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  23. Cha

    Someone on this page wrote "He's (Bill Clinton) absolutely correct and look at the childish title cnn gave to this story. How about "Bill Clinton Challenges CNN on Substance". You are absolutely right. We, readers, should reign in over media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, to name a few. If we don't nudge them for giving us lopsided, twisted, sensational, and unsubstantial news, they will keep throwing us the same garbage over and over, clad in the same old rags. Readers may favor different candidates – that's a fact. But political, social, and economic stakes are so high in the series of Presidential primary elections and caucuses. Most readers/viewers are clamoring that CNN and other powerful media outlets provide information on how all candidates stand on various issues. Enough of the sensational Hollywood-like politics! Let's debate on burning issues that affect us all – morgage crisis, energy crisis, Iraq, recession, employment, health care, education, immigration, global/national security, and others. We want to hear from the candidates!

    January 23, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  24. Joseph

    It's always about you, Bill, isn't it?

    January 23, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  25. Adam

    Role of CNN is not quite appreciating while reporting Clintons. It gonna hurt its credibility!

    January 23, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
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