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. George

    Do these families go to war?

    January 24, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  2. Bob in Minn

    What happened to his "statesman" act? Looks like he's running for the White House!

    January 24, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Fri

    I agree with Bill, CNN is clearly favoring Obama. Americans are foolish! can't you people see it...Obama is all talk, sel-defense, never admits wrong doing, and no action. I have a major problem with people who all they do is talk, talk, talk, talk, and absoluletly no ACTION. Just look at how he takes over each debate, and the CNN reporters never stop him. CNN enough of this crap!!!!! Hillary is by far the BEST democratic candidate... "actions speak louder than words!" And, she has proven it.

    January 24, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Kevin, Ca


    The same happened to me that CNN has also moderated my comments out.
    They might think that I try to promote C-Span or some other neutral news network like AP & WorlNews.

    IMO, Like other news networks Fox & MSNBC, CNN follows their foot steps to make any piece of news as much excitable in order to make money. NEWS REPORTING, to them and some Americans, is just simply boring. I' ll see this message will be posted or again deleted by CNN.

    January 24, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. RMH, New York City

    Bill is campaigning and good for him. Defending his wife, her career and a great presidential legacy. As far as his personal life goes, what one does behind closed doors, between consenting adults, is none of my busines, nor yours and most certainly should not be fodder for holier than thou so called good Christians.

    January 24, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Susan

    I listened to Bill Clinton's comments several times and read the transcript. I agree with every word of Bill's. The press needs to start talking about issues rather than promoting and stirring up infighting.

    January 24, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Fri


    Your comments are just repulsive, and so full of hate.

    January 24, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. EB in DC

    Yesterday I made a comment that has not been posted. This also happened a few weeks ago. Frankly, I think I made a valid - or at the very least interesting and well articulated - point. There is so much drivel being posted as comments to so many of the Politicker posts, I really can't help by wonder what the criteria is for what comments get through. Especially since they comments are often rather offensive. Also, since so many of the comments that get through are anti-Clinton or even pro-Obama, I am forced to wonder if this is actually representative of the comments your are receiving. After all, so far the comments that I have had rejected have been pro-Clinton.

    January 24, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Elizabeth

    Bill's behavior is unpresidential and typical Clinton. . . slash and burn!

    For all you who say that CNN is biased toward Obama, they have Donna Brazille, a Clinton supporter, as a so-called analyst. . . with every democratic remark basically pro-Clinton and anti-Obama. . . .and who keeps trying to stir the Republican plot.

    I think *perception* has hit the Clintons. .. perhaps now, CNN is just acting objective whereas before they were favorable to the Clintons.

    January 24, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. edna

    Hillary and Bill Clinton should start getting on Obamas Whining-all Obama does is Whine!!--Whine!! - Whine!! JUST WHATwe need in the WH is a Whiner, Frankly I'm tired of his high pitched whining and distressed cries of being ganged up on....does he think all the heads of other states or governments are going to cut him slack when they don't agree with him. NO!!!!!-NO!!!___NO!!!__Their just going to cut him off at the knees, walk down his back and take'em down. We need someone like Hillary thats NOT A WHINER. Can you believe that the Man Is a WHINER and the woman is UPRIGHT and S-T-R-O-N-G. Keep on keeping strong, Hillary.

    January 24, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Voting for Clinton is Dumb

    Judy whats pathetic is your high regards for the Clintons. Bill has hurt this country more than everyone. Think N.A.F.T.A, W.T.O, H1B Visa and his Ballistic Missile Technology to China !!! He has hurt this country !!! Check out the fact .

    January 24, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Freida NYC

    100% pro the Clintons!!!!! Americans either have dementia, or plain and simple ungrateful beings! Bill did for this country and other nations what no other president has ever done! What has Obama ever done other than talk? NOTHING!!!!!

    Hillary is a remarkable woman! She is the only one that can fix the mess we are in now (thanks to Mr. Bush or rather Mr. BS).

    It is about time that everyone in America have access to free or affordable health-care.

    January 24, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. Thomas Henson

    AMEN BILL!!!!! I am a John Edwards supporter in this election, but he is absolutely right! We DONT care about all this bickering nonsense, and when the media makes sensationalist crap the headlines it's THE PEOPLE that lose. That's right to those of you who made remarks on it, clinton was referring to the election being taken away from THE PEOPLE , not himself. If you folks would try and improve your literacy, maybe that little nuance wouldn't have escaped your tiny little minds.

    January 24, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. tmd

    I think he's finally started to inhale!

    January 24, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Andreas

    I think Bill is right because for all you ppl who apparently haven't been following the election closely Obama and Edwards had form some kind of buddy system and were attacking Hillary and were very nasty against her before voting had even started and the media allowed these attacks to go largely unnoticed. It clearly had a negative impact in Iowa because Hillary finished 3rd.

    The media were dancing on her grave after Iowa so what did you expect Bill to do just sit back and see the media get away with murder. Open your eyes ppl the media always try to weaken strong democratic candidates every election and cause the democrats to select someone who blows the election except for who, none other than Bill Clinton himself.

    I think unfortunately you ppl have been swayed by Obama's empty words of hope and change because this guy has no serious track record of the type of leadership he is selling. I think the Bush administration has made such a mess of the country that ppl are willing to buy anything that sounds different, but I warn you fellow democrats that with the economy in crisis, ppl losing their homes, millions without health care and the host of other problems, a steady and experienced hand is needed to make things better or at least prevent them from getting worse. This, as Mr.Obama suggests, is not the politics of fear but it is a reality that we all need to face and come to terms with. Ask yourselves, since when the leader of the free world has been elected with only experience in the State legislature and two years in the Senate. For democrats and for America this election is too important to experiment with that question.

    My fellow mules, we have all seen the Republican attack machine and what it can do in a general election and it is my honest opinion that Obama will be greatly affected because he has never faced that machine.

    I will end by saying that we all have the luxury of hope but we do not have the luxury of losing another election.

    January 24, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. G in Ohio

    This article is just about the reporter who got put in her place. There is anger in her eyes.

    My last comment was taken away on this reporter.

    Hillary 08

    January 24, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. Mike Rodrigues

    You call what Clinton said "lashing out?" He was simply articulating the truth, something he's good at. I think what bonehead journalists such as this female reporter and this Harpootly character can't seem to figure out is that Bill Clinton isn't President anymore. He doesn't have to dance to the medias tune anymore. He can speak his mind – simply and articulately. The media, CNN included, seem to think that it still has Clinton's thumbs in a vice, like the last two years of his Presidency. No, what you all have to deal with now in Bill Clinton is a man with far more intellect than most of you could ever aspire to, and a very clear memory of how he was treated by the media during the whole impeachment debacle, who is finally in a position to take the gloves off when he deals with media manipulation. He's not going to back down to accusatory comparisons with Lee Atwater, for heaven's sake! Nor should he. To compare Clinton to Atwater is like comparing him to Rove. No, I think he's done being baited. He's going to personally gather a huge number of like-minded citizens of this country and continue to challenge the credibility of mainstream news coverage. That's not "lashing out." It's simply challenging the media to evolve into something insightful instead of manipulative. Mike Rodrigues, Portland, OR

    January 24, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Freida NYC

    Andreas and Mike, "AMEN!"

    Finally two objective/factual people in this blog...love both your comments!

    January 24, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Rick Martinez

    At the moment, I am an Obama supporter. You can say whatever you want about Bill's reasoning for this or his methods, but his argument is correct. You can't fight the words he said.

    January 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. GMD

    CNN needs to stop spinning the politics and allow voters to objectively view each candidates, when would big corporations and media be more objective and stop looking at their bottom-line – ad revenues.

    January 24, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. TZ in Atlanta

    Mike : You said it for me. Thank you.

    January 24, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. Lynn

    I used to be a "Bill fan". Not anymore. These days you'd think that his name was Bill W. Bush.

    January 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. Jeannette

    What is all the concern about Obama's race. He is just as much white as he is black. Whats the big deal about his race? I think we should worry about his experience instead of his color or gender. I don't feel comfortable with a president that has been on the scene for only 10 years. I think we need someone that has been around the block a few times and understands politics. I would feel much more comfortable with either Clinton or Edwards as our next president.

    January 24, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Jaimie

    After actually watching the video, I thought CNN's headline, "Bill Clinton gets upset with CNN reporter," to be a little inaccurate. I didn't see any emotional outburst, just a well-placed criticism of the media. Is that automatically getting upset with a reporter in CNN's view? It's ironic – Bill Clinton criticizes the media for being self-obsessed, and the media reacts with a self-obsessed headline. It wasn't about the reporter – it was about how the coverage has told us precious little about the candidates and their stand on the issues.

    January 24, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. Charlie, DE

    Free speech in America, as long as it is legal.

    Obama did use drugs. It was written in his own book.
    Why can't other people mention this thing? Only because he is black?

    The media should dig out all of the candidates, good or bad, let people to judge based on what they did in the past, not just what they are saying now.

    Beautyful talks are written by the staff hired by compains, not the candidates themselves. People, wake up.

    January 24, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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