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. JW

    Bill is right. The media is biased and prejudice. They make their own polls of whom is going to win and then give that candidate the most air time. They twist words that a candidate may have said all in the name of a story.

    January 24, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. P.L.

    I have become very disappointed in the way that the Clintons have been campaigning. I believe that Bill Clinton has already served as president for our country and I wish not to see his face anymore in this campaign. It is making his wife look very incompetent of holding her own ground in this campaign. This in tell makes me believe she is incompetent of running this country. To say the least it is also bringing about true colors of the Clintons and I personally am looking for a honest president full of integrity and truth. I don't believe that ether Clinton seems to be presenting themselves in this way. Mr. Clinton your are loosing cool points and please go home you
    are in the way.

    January 24, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Eric, Elk Grove, California

    Wow! What's Bill saying? CNN's Jessica Yellin, a reporter, is not allowed to ask a question about the Atwater comment? Where are we Bill? Pakistan?

    January 24, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. aisha


    January 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. A Democrat

    I agree with Bill Clinton. CNN does live for this. Jessica Yellin was probably very excited about that question, and Clinton burst her bubble. I do not feel sorry for her or CNN at all.

    January 24, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. Cal, Boston, MA

    Imagine having BILL CLINTON saying "Shame on you". Good grief....coming from that SHAMELESS dirtbag.

    January 24, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Scott Mansfield

    I agree with him in general...there's too much news coverage about conflict and he said/she said. After all the debates and coverage, can most voters accurately list their candidate's stand on various issues? I'm not sure. They can probably explain some way that the candidate they don't like said something offensive, but how is that helping to pick the next president and get the country on track? Conflict is compelling but we need something more than a soap opera in the election coverage and CNN and other stations aren't providing it very much. And most viewers are getting used to this crap...whether it's Britney in rehab or which Dem candidate is guilty of accusing racism. It's all the same pablum we get fed while the country goes down the toilet.

    January 24, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. B

    Bill Clinton couldn’t be more right! The press – in this case CNN –pounces on the bickering and the trivia and blows it all all out of proportion. And yes, many of us don’t want to hear that – we want to hear about the issues. Do you think the trivia and other garbage makes good entertainment, CNN? This is a presidential campaign and it is serious business, not entertainment. It should be treated as serious business preparing people to vote in a critical election. However, the real issues are being ignored, thanks to the endless tripe being fed to us by our media. The issues are what people need to listen to and research and think about. I couldn't believe the discussion after the Jessica Yellin/Bill Clinton clip that was shown: half a dozen or so reporters all saying the media DOESN’T concentrate on the trivia and slipping a bit of "political analysis" in there for good measure. CNN’s disclaimer went on for 10 or 15 minutes during which they actually showed the bickering tape again! This is exactly what Clinton was talking about! No information about issues came out during that wasted period of time.Then, John Edwards was actually interviewed. Finally! It's about time. What’s with the blackout on Edwards, American media? I want to hear what Edwards has to say about the issues. I want to hear what Obama and Clinton and – yes, Kucinich – have to say about issues, too. I even want to know what the Republicans are saying about the issues! I DON’T want to hear bickering and I DON’T want to hear about what the latest polls say and I DON’T want endless political "analysis". Let the candidates speak for themselves about the issues. Ask tough questions about the issues and don't let them off the hook by evading questions or giving vague answers. Tough questions do not include things like, "Why did you do so poorly in _(fill in the state__."Give me the issues – all of them – and the candidates- all of them. Skip the pompous analysis, stupid, shallow questions, the inane trivia (Hillary 'cries', Obama and Clinton squabble) and endless polls. I'll decide for myself when I hear the candidates speak for themselves.

    January 24, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. Ryan D., Saint Paul, MN

    I can't get enough of him. Keep em coming, Mr. President!

    January 24, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. c martin

    I am an Agrican American male 33 yrs old. During the 90's I loved the Clintons and I thought many African Americans like Bill Clinton. But with all the slash and burn comments....why are they so afraid of Barack Obama. Just run the campaign and move on. For God sakes...you are a former president of the U.S. Let your wife do the job so we can say she won by herself and not the help of her Husband and former President.

    PS. I am thinking about changing my vote.....is sad to to see the former Presidential Couple stoop so low!

    January 24, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  11. hogbodo

    If Hillary wins the Democratic nominee, I will vote Republican.
    Thanks Bill, by the way go home to sleep.

    January 24, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  12. E.K.

    I find it ironic that Bill Clinton said that the people don't care about this....yet he & Hillary are the very ones who tried to throw mud. In reality, there was none to throw. Obama's consistent intelligence, wisdom, and respectful behavior is what I'm observing. These qualities give me insight into how he would also be as President. He is indeed credible.

    January 24, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. charlotte

    1200+ comments and some of you wonder why the Clintons get all the press. Other sights are lucky to get 100 comments. I might add, in reading them the negativity is about 50/50 By far I think the Anti-Clintons are the nastiest, lowest and mean spirted. Most of the Anti-Obamas just call him naive and unprepared for the big dogs.

    January 24, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. California Craig

    I agree with Clinton about the soap opera-style media coverage of the presidential race.

    January 24, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. Alex

    Barack is new, is fresh and is cool. The Clintons are old politics, with the same old ideas that didn´t work. They serve special interests since long time. Barack will eventually do too, but he is not corrupt at this moment. DC is not so deep in him. Let the guy do his job. Alex

    January 24, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Erin

    Bill and Hillary are both liars. She lists all of these years of experience. Well, I guess the next time I type a resume I will list my husband's work experience as my own. If Hillary can do it, why can't the rest of us. Just by marrying someone with experience does not give you experience. Think about it.

    January 24, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. Scott

    How soon we forget! Our economy was screwed up, theres were few jobs, the country's debt was continuing to climb- WHEN George H. Bush was President! During the Clinton years everyone who wanted a job had one, our economy was doing well, we were actually PAYING DOWN the debt, and GAS WAS UNDER $2 A GALLON! Now George W. Bush has been the PREZ for two terms and what do we have?- few jobs, the country's debt is the highest in US HISTORY, and the economy is screwed up. Sound familliar? Facts sometimes aren't easy to swallow, are they? I want a CLINTON back in the White House!

    January 24, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  18. no more

    Having read one more factual book and remembering the past, which many people choose to ignore, I have reaffirmed my decision of NO MORE Clintons in the White House. No more opportunities to rip off this country and no more lies and devisive scenarios from either of them. I had friends in Arkansas that filled me in on their actions there, before Bill ran the first time, much of which I was able to cofirm, but unbelievably things just continued and got worse.
    Why are people so willing to possibly vote for the most amoral, dishonest candidate in the history of our country? If the majority of the people condone and endorse this behavior it implies that they see nothing wrong and are as bad as they are. If this is the case this is a country I no longer want to live in.
    I'm an old lady and happy that I will not be around that much longer, but I like many others, have grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have to grow up in this country and I would love it if they could enjoy it as much as I did. It looks like the 'Great Depression' will have been a walk in the park in comparison to what they will confront in their life-times.

    January 24, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  19. believer

    Billy lied and disgraced the integrity of what a President should be. He is a criminal. Impeached, disbarred, disgraced. Who does he think he is; so up in the American People faces with his disdain. He is an ex-president with a big asterick by his name. He isn't just campaigning for hilly, he has just declared war against Obama. This should have been a clean campaign without billy and his jealousy. It's over for him. He can't be president, again. It seems by his double talk that he doesn't care if hilly wins or not, he just doesn't want Obama to win. They have not gone after Edwards at all! It's always Obama. Hilly came into the race thinking it would be an easy ride, then they panicked and resorted to what they do best ... dirty lowdown nasty mean spiteful tactics.

    January 24, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  20. Rudy

    Way to Go BILL ! CNN seem to be amateur on this interviews. I Think if we have to step back in History, Enonomy is the Heart of this great Nation. The clintons have 8 years of that. I will place my Bet on a Thorough Bred. Most of the guys out here are Clinton Haters with self EGO interest to say. What comes down is Politics, Like News there ain't no News if it isn't contraversial enough to print. Reporters are like Kids, Can't you guys Grow up and print what is the Issue.

    January 24, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  21. G

    This is exactly why she shouldn't get elected. We don't need family dynasties in the white house becasue they can lead to this type of behavior. If she were to get elected who do you think would be running the country, Hillary or Bill? Former President Bill Clinton is not acting in a manner befitting his title of "Former President", or is he just sly like a fox and trying to circumvent our laws which prevent him from being in office for 3 terms?

    January 24, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. Mike in Kentucky

    Last night I attempted to post a statement in support of the Clinton candidacy.

    I will not try to reproduce exactly it here, but the point was that there has been an unrelenting onslaught of attacks against both the Clintons, by the Republican hit machine, going back to their early days in national politics and carrying through the impeachment and subsequent acquittal of President Clinton and even to today.

    They have survived it.

    I fear I must be careful here; I used the stronger version of darned and referred to the yellowish discharge found under scabs by a word that sounds a bit like bus.

    These references were to Republican financial backers and Republican political operatives (sometimes the same thing) .

    The inference to be drawn was that the Clintons have both survived...for years...Obama has yet to be tested in the fire of fierce Republican scrutiny.

    The post was somewhat longer than this...and I hit "enter" and it apparently uploaded but there was no message "awaiting moderation" from me.

    I scrolled to the bottom of the blog and there in the comment box was my post. I hit " enter again...and a screen I have never seen before, informed me that a comment exactly like this one had been received.

    It disappeared.

    I want to be charitable and think that it was because I used some "questionable language...but really...in 2008!?

    Or was there another factor in play?

    We are being censored here, in more ways than one.

    I wonder if this comment will "await moderation"?

    January 24, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  23. Mike in Kentucky

    "CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity"

    This is copied from the bottom of the page you and I are reading.

    It must have been the strong darned and the yellow stuff that sounds like bus.

    Whew! I thought something fishy was going on here! 🙂

    January 24, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  24. keith Pike


    January 24, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  25. believer


    January 25, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
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