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. JohnS

    Before and immediately after IOWA, Edwards was SEEN as ANGRY; yes, very different and ANGRY. How short minded are we as a nation?

    In NH, Hillary cried being close to losing to a "black man." Women rushed to her rescue to save the day. Now, Bill is out there daily. If Hillary wins this nomination, can we say that she did it at the backs of women and her MAN? I guess it is hard for such people to stand alone!!!

    Well, after all the previous and ongoing negative commercials about a "black man," are we to say that he has no RIGHT whatsoever to CLEAR his own GOOD name even if he does not get your vote?

    I guess the reasons above validate the thinking for NOT taking the "popular votes" very seriously; thanks to the ELECTORAL COLLEGE, there are tons of simply "ill-informed" people out there who should certainly stay out of the voting process; the system cannot depend on the judgments of such people. As a result, your popular votes will really count LESS, thank GOD!!!!

    January 24, 2008 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  2. Foxesruters

    A CNN reporter isn't worth getting upset at. CNN should be in disneyland covering micky mouse. That would fit their skills better.

    January 24, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  3. Matt

    I can not believe that Democrats can even remotely think about allowing the Clintons anywhere near the Oval office again. How many scandels did they lie about and cover up? How many terrorist attacks occured on Bills watch and he did nothing about? How many chances did he have for Osama Bin Laden? Didn't we impeach him? Wasn't he disbarred? Did he not wave that very same sanctimonious finger before and flat out lied to the American people?

    And you want more of that? Are you insane or are you just such lemmings that you just blindly follow anything they do and believe anything they say.

    Hillary can not get him to just shut up now. Do you really think they will be able to muzzle him if she is elected?

    Wake up America.

    Anybody But Clinton.

    January 24, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  4. Peace

    If Bill has the freedom to talk whatever he likes, why not the reporters not to report what they see and hear!!!! Bill, democracy is not ONE WAY TRAFFIC!

    January 24, 2008 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  5. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Bill Clinton got mad at a reporter.

    On a day where Vice President Traitor and Criminal Dick Cheney has called for *more* and *permanent* warrantless wiretapping powers, the Ticker carries a story of a guy losing his temper in a pressure-packed presidential campaign.

    Nice priorities, CNN.

    No wonder we're going down the tubes.

    January 24, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  6. deroy

    bill clinton should be in jail for selling defense secrets to china for campaign contributions (bribes) in 1996 through bernard schwartz and loral corp.

    he committed treason in addition to being a military deserter of this own US army.
    he signed up and went AWOL.

    the man is simply a con artist and grifter.

    January 24, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  7. deroy

    hillary is another GWB. she will remain in iraq by saying, 'i had no idea is was this bad'.

    write it down.

    January 24, 2008 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  8. Molly

    Good grief. So what if Bill Clinton is campaigning for his wife! Michelle Obama is campaigning for her husband and so is Elizabeth Edwards campaigning for her husband. The difference is that Bill was the President. But should that should exclude him from supporting Hillary? Afterall, he does owe her in my opinion. Can you imagine what people and the media would say about Bill Clinton if he was not campaigning for her? Our country has never had a situation like this so there is no model for the Clintons to follow. But I so, go Bill, you are a great campaigner!

    For all of you attacking the Clintons keep in mind that our country was at peace when Clinton was President and our economy was great. Then the draft dodgers Bush and Cheney team take over and put our country to war while lying about it 935 times as has recently been documented. The Republicans have destroyed America's reputation in the world and all but destroyed our economy. Time for a Democrat to be President.

    Hillary has shown in the debates to be fully informed and a master of the facts while Obama stammers and hums and haws while trying to come up with answers. In the last debate he was the one to attack first by mentioning that she was on the board of directors at Walmart. Big Deal. Other members of the board at the time have remarked that Hillary was a thorn in the side of Sam Walton as she was always pushing for women to be promoted to positions of managers at the company. She didn't just sit there and agree to everything they said.

    Meanwhile Hillary then brought up the relationship of Obama with Tony Rezko. This is something that should have been covered by the press but hasn't really. Tony Rezko is going on trial next month on charges that include FRAUD and money laundering. Apparently he was involved in over 30 housing projects for low income earners. While Obama has claimed that he only worked for a few hours on Rezko related items while at a law firm it is curious that Rezko then GAVE OBAMA OVER $168,000 IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS. Then when Obama wanted to buy a house Rezko's wife bought the plot of land next to the house that Obama wanted and he ended up paying $300,000 less than the asking price. Why? Why isn't this being discussed?

    January 24, 2008 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  9. Penny

    Wow, some of you are right. I played the clip and found that the Clinton tone does not sound like the way the write up portrays. What's with CNN?
    I still feel uncomfortable to think of the Clintons in the White House because of the history.
    But fair is fair. Here in this clip, he was only answering the question the reporter posed. He has a right to be sharp tongued.

    January 24, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  10. The Average Voter

    Elian Gonzalez was used By Bill and Hillary Clinton to Destroy Al Gore Chances to Win Minority Voters.

    Eight years ago, Bill Clinton and Hillary decided to backstab Al Gore by dramatizing the Elian Gonzalez incident for the sole purpose of upsetting the minority voters. Al Gore had to loose according to their strategy to avoid the public's fatigue toward democrats. Eight years of Bill Clinton and another eight years of Al Gore would have been too long for Hillary Clinton to have any chance to becoming President. People already forgot.
    King Bill and Queen Hillary will do anything to go back to the White House so they can have their revenge on the republicans like W did with Saddam. Hillary will be worse than W. If Hillary gets the nomination we will vote republicans. We do not agree with McCain all the time but we know he is honest. We want an honest President for this great nation of ours.

    Good Luck!

    The Average Voter.

    January 24, 2008 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  11. Jason G.

    Obviously, the media is fueling these remarks and irrelevant issues. How else would ANY reasonable person respond? Notwithstanding Bill was formerly a President of the U.S., he has a right to defend these deliberate and offensive attacks. Go Bill!

    January 24, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  12. Phil

    Didn't republicans used to call CNN the "Clinton News Network"? Now they are asking him a difficult questions and people turn on the reporter?

    Bill Clinton should be supporting his wife by raising funds and explaining policy. Not attacking unions and Obama. He is making it hard for union households to stay with her if she wins the nomination.

    January 24, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Patty, "Well, once again the man is asked a pointed question about someone criticizing his character and I can't believe that CNN is pushing this as Bill is angry. That was the calmest politest response I could have imagined. He did not raise his voice, he never appeared angry, he laughed several times, and for CNN and what I just watched Jessica and Soledad O'Brien say on the air just after 8:00 pm was DISGUSTING!!"

    One doesn't have to raise ones voice to be rude, arrogant or angry. His comments to this reporter weren't called for and Clinton basically said that they were putting themselves ahead of the people. Your comments about Soledad O'Brian are also uncalled for and you are no different then Bill Clinton. Pretend to post reasonably so that you can take the higher ground and say 'I wasn't rude when I called others disgusting and Bill Clinton wasn"t rude when he personally attacked the character of an American whose job is that of a reporter."

    "A complete twist of words and meaning and showing the media once again, and I have written to CNN many times about their bias, is trying to spin this into another outburst from Clinton to spin this week's theme of is 'Is big bad Bill a detriment to his wife's campaign?"

    Here is another example of you people attacking other Americans and calling them biased when you and Bill are the biased ones. You have attacked good people just like Bill did and try to make it appear as though you are reasonably trying to explain things. YOU JUST CALLED EVERY AMERICAN WHO WORKS AT CNN BIASED AND ATTACKED THEIR CHARACTER

    . No!! He is not and since when will CNN start printing some unbiased facts about the Clintons and stop acting as if the Obama campaign is the second coming and walks on water! Now maybe you should be telling us what actually went on that meeting and what the SC voters care about rather than this manufactured spin and another attack where not warranted.

    January 24, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  14. Joseph, LA, CA

    I've been wondering why the nation has become so partisan and divisive. The answer is actually in CNN, FOX, and the rest of the media. The nation is actually not as divisive or partisan compared to any other election year. It's just perceived that way because we have instant access to media spin.

    And although the Clintons are not saints, it does seem odd that when they say something tough, they are 'lashing out' while Obama 'fought back the attacks'. And then CNN does a softball research to find out that Obama is really not a Muslim, while choosing not to dig into any of his legislative or legal record. Where is investigative reporting?

    I am reminded of the softballs that President Bush got when he invated Iraq. I recall a certain CNN reporter on top of an armed vehicle as the US forces crossed into Iraq and claiming, "This is historic journalism!" It was actually historic propaganda. No one bothered to dig into the false claims made by the administration for fear that it will be unpatriotic and thus damage the network's image.

    Is the same thing happening here? I haven't seen this much media bandwagon since "Shock and Awe". If after Obama wins the Democratic nomination, and a Republican SWAT team manages to find dirt on him, how will the 'liberal' media look?

    If I heard him correctly, Obama is accusing President Clinton and Hillary of lying about his record. Since he really hasn't offered any definitive responses, we don't know if he is lying or the Clintons are. Has any one in the media asked him how that reconciles with his 'politics of change'? How he plans to unite the nation when he cannot unite his own party? Why wouldn't any one fight back?

    I actually liked the Obama guy and thought he might have a shot at bringing the country together, but it seems he walks, acts, and talks like any politician. Which probably means he is a politician.

    Increasingly, John Edwards is sounding like the most mature guy out there, but of course, he is a trial lawyer and should sound good. And face it, he's not going to be the nominee.

    Wolf Blitzer claims he did the right thing on the debate. He did the right thing for his network, but perhaps not for the country.

    Has it ever occurred to him that the reason the candidates have to get so nasty against each other is because his network has failed to ask any tough questions? And because there have been virtually zero follow-up to any of the scripted answers that they got?

    I cannot imagine Ted Koppel or Walter Cronkite presiding over these debates and letting it get out of control. Great theater and television, but that wasn't really a debate.

    January 24, 2008 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  15. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    Bill Clinton is one of the few high profile politicians in America to call out the media for trying to make politics more divisive than they really are. Have any of you ever stopped to think, "Yeah, the news definitely does try to get candidates to pick fights between each other"? How many more days do we have to bear with CNN's 'Candidate X' LASHES OUT!?

    January 24, 2008 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  16. JoeinTexas

    I am sick and tired of cnn and msnbc forcing obama down our throat. it is not going to work. obama's ride and fun is finished after super tuesday. He will be very lucky to win even his home state of illinois. cnn and msnbc have deliberately lied and distorted this whole election process. they fooled those idiots in iowa who are ignorant and spoiled but they can't fool the rest of the country. SC black citizens can vote all they want for obama but thats where it stops ( this is because AAs are extremely racist – I too am AA); florida is going to blow him away. The news media have simply been too scared to call obama on a lot of his comments and the very miniscule things he has done while in office. This obama mania is a well orchestrated republican dirty trick. We democrats must not fall for it. we must nominate our strongest, toughest and smartest candidate who can go toe to toe with whomever the republicans nominate. In my opinion, that person is HILLARY CLINTON....

    January 24, 2008 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  17. oladimeji

    I guess, Dems candidates are playiny a dangerous game. People should look at issue and not unwarranted sentiment.

    And to CNN, i'm visibly suprise.

    January 24, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  18. Rod

    Dr. Goebbels, Hitlere's propaganda minister, sure would be proud of the Imperial Couple, they know how to lie better than anybody since George W.

    January 24, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  19. Bill

    Bil Clinton should get a job, go to Davos or soething, instead of wasting his time campaigning for her loser wife. She is not a real politician, she only became one because her husband was in white house once. By the way, how much is the world's most expensive speaker beng paid on this campaign. They should give others a chance to lead america. Them and the bushes, its time for them to go.

    January 24, 2008 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  20. Moki

    Do we really want to put up with another "Clinton" white house? All spin–no substance.

    January 24, 2008 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  21. E. C., Houston, Texas


    January 24, 2008 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  22. Gerry Manderson

    The Clinton machine is extremely adroit at serving up the "dish" of race when it serves its purpose. But when called to account for its aggressive tactics, both former President Clinton and candidate Clinton get downright righteous in their indignation! Even the most ardent Democrat has to acknowledge this is fundamental to Clinton politics. Hill and Bill are expert with "short knives" and it's a precious few in the press corp who will ever call them on it!

    January 24, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  23. g godfrey

    If Hillary wins the Nomination, I will vote republican and I have been a life long Republican. Anyone who does not think the Clintons are behind the use of key words- cocaine, muslim , obama hussain, hit list, etc. is naive. They have skillfully wrapped Obama in all the black derogatory outfits. They will do anything to get in the White House again.. Those tears , were not for America, they were for her resume. Bill Clinton is fighting to get the last laugh after his impeachment.
    But the whole thing could back fire on them.. They will be known as the power couple that set back America 100 years , depriving this country of the first viable capable president of color. They will also be known as the power couple that proved that all men are not created equal in America.

    January 24, 2008 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  24. josh22

    Its sad to see Bill act like this....Hillary's going to lose SC by a large margin to Obama partly due to this(in addition to her huge negatives). Hillary its time to give up and end the infighting for America's sake.

    January 24, 2008 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  25. Derek

    It is such a shame that petty American spin questions made by uneducated journalists and off-the-cuff remarks by uninformed bigots on comment sections of news websites prevent any chance of real progress being made in American politics.

    The rest of the world see's this as the result of a dire US education system and unfortunately, you do get what you pay for. Journalists with a lack of integrity will continue to report anything to get ratings and their viewers will continue to make uneducated decisions, we can't expect anymore than that.

    So find the whitest, God-devoted Christian you can find and I give you the next President of the United States of America, which by the way, is a republic, not a democracy. Spreading democracy should really begin at home...and not in the middle of a desert several thousand miles away...

    America's poor educational system results in a plethora of American youths shouting 'we got the bomb' and the rest of the world gets to live with the results of these uniformed elections...which have resulted directly in:
    – Less worldwide stability
    – Volitile Oil Prices
    – A weakened dollar
    – A visible increase in Terrorism (in the 5 countries that I travel to annually) – I don't know where 'Mission accomplished," comes from...
    – A loss of American Civil Rights (as a non-American I saw The Patriot Act I & II as a sad loss for the American people, not my own, as my country still offers the privilege of Individual freedom).

    As a concerned world citizen, I would give support for Ron Paul. Anyone else interested in stringing out Bush's war on terror is only going to worsen our already extremely troubled situation.

    There is never a justification for violence and anyone to argue this point has obviously never experienced conflict.

    January 24, 2008 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
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