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. Ron d

    I would consider his actions unbecoming of a first lady.


    January 24, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Enough said.

    cnn is back to sensoring everything I write no matter what.

    the all OBAMA network. Good work CNN.

    January 24, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  3. Jenny, Worcester MA

    CNN and other corporate media will manufacture any number of sensationalized nonsense for their own agenda, which is NOT the best interest of the nation and humanity. Trust me on that.

    Google Democracy Now and start reading and listening real information, the rest of the story never told, and analyses that actually connect all the dots and make sense of them.

    Do NOT waste your time on CNN or any other corporate media. Do NOT waste your vote on their puppets.

    January 24, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. Mark J.

    CNN reporter Jessica Yellin is obnoxious and pushy, I'm pretty sick of CNN going after gossip/twisting facts instead of facts. I've noticed them at a few speaking campaigns asking stupid gossip type questions to candidates. CNN has become very unprofessional, I mostly get my news elsewhere. Even FOX is more professional than CNN. It's obvious CNN is using President Clinton to up their gossip junk, all US presidents deserve a certain amount of respect, seems CNN is oblivious of this. Since when did CNN become the voice of the people? Using whacked out reporters, analysts and dirt diggers and calling it news. By the way, Jessica Yellin couldn't get a job as janitor at CBS, NBC, MSNBC or ABC. Neither could John Roberts that's why he is now with CNN.

    January 24, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. Jel

    My Gosh people ARE a lot smarter than I give them credit.
    Bill and Hillary need to retire and go home. Period!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We never need to see their faces again

    Why do they insist on thinking this whole country is about them. It is NOT!!!!!!!!!!

    It is amazing to me that they think that we are so stupid not to see through their
    silly games they are playing with people.

    January 24, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. Sam

    CNN – Why are all my comments in moderation?

    I am a US citizen temporarily in Japan. I just finished watching this Clinton clip FIVE times in the span of one hour. The Jessica Yellin interview was laughable. Why is she getting air time to defend herself against Bill Clinton? Why is she nitpicking about Bill Clinton's version of what people care about and her own version of what people care about.

    I abhor that Bill Clinton is on the campaign trail. His words have no credibility with me. However, just because a few people asked about race (according to Jessica), it is still not the dominant issue to people, which is what Bill Clinton was trying to convey. Jessica knows that. CNN knows that. She's being defensive and over sensitive.

    CNN you may get viewer attention. But you do not get viewer respect.

    I have little choice but to to watch you here in Japan, but on return to the US, I will not.

    The Clinton's will do anything to get elected.
    The Obama's will do almost anything to get elected.
    CNN will do absolutely anything to get ratings. Journalism or prostitution?

    January 24, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  7. SHELLEY, london

    You Americans really have short memories. It was'nt long ago that the media was reporting all the negatives that the Clintons were spreading about Obama, and still are. Now that Obama is fighting back and the strategy is backfiring on the Clintons ,Bill is right about his comment to the media and Obama is a cry baby who is just like the Clintons? His statement would have been more credible if he has said it when his camp had the media crucifying Obama

    January 24, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  8. Barry

    Bill, you are so full of cr*p. Even the media is sick and tired of you. Hey, I have an idea. Why don't you answer the questions they ask you? That seems easy enough, even for a talking head like you. (I can barely see Hillary's lips move now when Bill speaks!)

    January 24, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  9. deeanna jacobs

    Obama is not a credible candidate and that is the end of the story. His words are empty and it looks like a civil rights rally when he speaks. However, his win in SC will come back to haunt him. Hillary will win by a landslide on super Tuesday.

    January 24, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. Dwight

    You media people should just do your job and ask questions that are related to the issue.

    what do you want from Bill Clinton; he is only doing what any of us would do if our partners were running for office. He has every right to be out there as Michelle is. The only reason you are attacking him is because he is conviencing and people believe in him. Go Bill Go.

    As for Obama he should work more and pay he's due. We need people who know their way around the white house. That house is sure big and people could get lost in there.

    Way to go Bill keep it up.

    January 24, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. Bill, Detroit, MI

    bill is going over the top on the media, but he also is dead right about the media's approach to the campaign; follow the sexy story, forget about the substantive issues. If they do the former, all they have to do is write down what they hear. To cover the issues, they'd actually have to act like reporters instead transcribers. Too much work for them.

    He is a bit disingenuous though, in his Obama comment. No campaign team plays the media better than the Clintons!

    January 24, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. Marilyn Bryan, Taylor, AR

    It's a good thing that blogs and the media were not in full sway in the founding
    days of this democracy. Thomas Jefferson would not have had a chance in the world of becoming president no matter what his qualifications.
    Scandal-mongering is such big business that once-reliable sources have
    turned into nothing more than scandal sheets and wagging tongues.
    Who will suffer? USA voters who are demoralized by the politics of fear and
    scandal and vote for the politician with the "best personality" over best qualified.
    At least FOX is obviously biased despite claims otherwise.
    Will we have to tune in to the BBC to get unbiased coverage of this election?
    If Democrats tear Democrats apart, just wait till the selection narrows to the two parties. Obama doesn't have a chance against McCain's experience and
    leadership, nor even that of Romney. He is definitely the Republican pick for the
    Democratic candidate.
    Reporters are only "doing their jobs". It is the guys at the top who are sanctioning
    all the muck-raking and sensationalizing of every little tid-bit of information, be it
    about Brittney, Princess Diana or the latest tragedy best left unreported on

    January 24, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. Dave - NJ

    President Clinton MIGHT care about the voters of South Carolina but clearly Senator Clinton does not since she has already moved on to other states days before the SC primary. Hillary's position apparently is "Ok SC, you've had your 15 minutes of my time, now I have to move on to important states like California and New York".

    I'm not disputing whether or not it is a good political strategy (it probably is) but as President she would have to care about 50 states (plus DC) not just the ones carrying the most delegates. I, for one, don't trust Hillary as far as I can throw her!

    January 24, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. Neel ny, ny

    you are kidding me on this one????

    Obama is a moron to come up with this explanation
    carol January 24, 2008 8:27 am ET

    Obama is now saying that he accidentally hit the wrong button when he was voting on some issues! Help us God if he were to be elected! He might hit the wrong button and launch Nuclear Weapons!

    Go home Obama and grow up!

    January 24, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  15. Quiet Mary

    get rid of Yellin she is a Hussain Obama mole............

    January 24, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. Milton, Harrisburg, PA

    Ah yes, it sends chills up my spine to think about the Clinton administration. Remember when we all had fat stock portfolios and the national debt was being paid down? Remember when the number of people that lived below the poverty line was dropping? Remember when we weren't hemmoraging money due to an invented war ? Bring me back those days, and the President can have sex with whomever she or he wants.

    January 24, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. Mike, Fort Washington, MD

    Bill Clinton is a joke. Hillary is running for president so that bill can redeem himself. They will continue to shame the white house just like Bush. That's why we need Change that WE Can Believe IN!! Their are a lot of Republicans that REGRET voting for Bush and you DEMS will feel the same way.

    January 24, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  18. Steph, Ann Arbor, MI

    CNN and the rest of the media are trying to take this election away from the voters.

    Repeated comments about how it was getting fun for reporters when Hillary Clinton lost her huge lead in the national polls. Raising questions about race and gender – why raise them if the voters are color and gender blind?

    Why – because it makes better news than saying that Dr. King's vision of equality has been achieved and we aren't divided by race. Or that women are finally equal to men. Neither of those two achievements stir controversy.

    Controversy is what CNN and the media live on. Their role began as reporting on news, now they see their role as making news.

    January 24, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    In this case Clinton is correct.

    Nobody in the public meetings ever brings up the issue of race or gender, but the media does it continuously.

    They do it to Obama, too, especially as it pertains to his Muslim father and step-father and his race.

    How about covering the goings-on in the actual meetings/campaign stops with the people and what they are asking about, instead of priming the pump?!

    Worst of all, the GOP are watching this nonsense and planning their strategy for the general election campaigning period – and they are getting a lot of ammunition!

    As soon as the candidates are chosen, Rush Limbaugh will be out there, loaded for bear, hurling one piece of nonsense after the other at the Democratic candidate – nonsense he's gleaned from the Democratic primary season!

    January 24, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. TAYLOR

    Bill was feeding the media. He brought the race and gender issue himslef. I wonder if people are looking at the same news that I'm watching and listening to his speech. Obama is not only fighting Hillary he has Bill to contend with and were is Hillaray? Thats right she left SC and left her dog to do her fighting. This her fight and not his. I don't care about what he has to say. I want to know what she has to say and let her take questions from the the people who stand out in the cold and wait for hours to see her and listen to her plans to to change this nation. Nothing will get done in the White House if she wins. Why? They don't like her and they don't want to work with her.

    January 24, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  21. Dave Froyalde/Washington

    To be honest, I am getting sick and tired of CNN. I am starting to avoid this station because they are always asking the hard questions on Hillary Clinton and is very soft on Obama. Is this station promoting Obama so that the Republicans win the general elections? Just thinking.

    The Clintons are proven leaders. When a Nobel price awardee calls Bill Clinton the " Ist black president" that is credibility in its highest form. The Clintons have proven in their political/personal lives of their appreciation of people of color specially the African Americans. CNN should highlight the positive impact of the Clintons in our country. Thank you.

    January 24, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Lee

    I voted for Bill Clinton in both presidential elections. I voted for Hillary in the NYS senatorial elections. However, at this time, I am reluctant to vote for Hillary in the February 5 primary. She is experienced, smart, and has done a good job as senator, but the stretching of Mr. Obamas remarks and the incessant, strident attacks on him by both Hillary and President Clinton seem to indicate their willingness to subscribe to dirty tricks, scurrilous and mean-spirited, take-no-prisoners campaigning. Our country deserves better than that; it is way too close to the Cheney-Rove-Shrub mentality. We know where that has gotten us.

    January 24, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Linda

    Everyone should take a chill-pill. It's all rhetoric, when are thre great people of this country going to wise up. it's all ONE party that acts like its disenfranchised with the other during election time-then when it's over they go into the backrooms and laugh about it. We need to truly find a leader that has not already been bought by the big giants of the world. American politics is hogwash; if its that good. LET"S GET REAL!!!!

    January 24, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Mani from New Jersey

    Now when in the world did Hillary shed tears about CNN being mean to her? Isnt that what we would call "factually inaccurate". I couldnt help but comment on this one because anyone who reads these comments needs to know that it is WRONG information

    January 24, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. Alfred D.Bills

    President Clinton is 100% right about the news people carring about Obama people"s remarks on Atwater comment .Let"s get
    on with the importent reasons for this election. We very much need Mrs.Clinton to present her reasons for wanting to be elected as president of our country. God knows we need her kind of ledership,witch is Peace and Prosperity.
    Al Bills

    January 24, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
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