New York Times and CNN reporters continue to push the demonstrably false frame that Hillary supporters are not enthusiastic about her. This, in spite of the fact that Hillary is energizing voters and winning by all relevant measures.
In the New York Times, Amy Chozick files another entry in an endless series of media reports on the supposed lack of enthusiasm for Hillary under the headline: “Hillary Clinton Gets Tepid Response at Black Activist Conference.”
Her lede asserts that Hillary “received a lukewarm response from a gathering of black leaders and voters in New York” at “the annual conference of the National Action Network, the civil rights organization founded 25 years ago by the Rev. Al Sharpton.” She further writes: “A scattering of audience members occasionally applauded.”
Oddly, Chozick later quotes attendee Gloria Boyce-Charles saying, “I was ecstatic when she talked about” environmental contamination in black neighborhoods (which Hillary has identified as environmental racism in her Plan to Fight for Environmental and Climate Justice).
Perhaps the lack of raucous applause had something to do with the content of Hillary’s remarks, in which she sought to convey to the audience that she has been listening to them and understands the unique struggles that their communities are facing: The racial wealth gap, systemic racism in the criminal justice system, gun violence, infant mortality, mass incarceration, education inequality, inadequate public transportation, the school-to-prison pipeline, the affordable housing crisis, Flint and the pervasiveness of environmental contamination in communities all over the nation.
She acknowledged these profound failures and detailed her plans to address them. Another attendee, Jason Murray, also quoted by Chozick, “said Mrs. Clinton didn’t receive roaring applause because she stuck to granular policy details, and not because the crowd wasn’t supportive. ‘It wasn’t a bunch of fluff that gets applause,’ he said.”
One wonders why, then, Chozick’s opening salvo was the suggestion that Hillary got a “lukewarm response” based on “occasional applause.” Support—and enthusiasm—aren’t always measurable in applause, and her frame seems to ignore the perceptions of the attendees, substituting her bias for their own experiences of the event.
Other reporters assessed the tone of the room using different metrics. Jackie Kucinich, Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast, tweeted: “Speaking to several women exiting the Clinton’s #NAN25 speech—they say if they had any doubts they are now gone. She has their vote.”
Joy Ann Reid tweeted: “Hillary Clinton in the room, before a black audience, is quite effective, citing names of black colleagues and a timeline of work with AAs.” She noted the intimacy of the event suited her: “The things that don’t work for her in a huge rally setting do work in these kinds of settings.”
Chozick, however, is hardly the only reporter still peddling this fraudulent narrative. On CNN, Alisyn Camerota interviewed Chirlane McCray, who is married to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, asking her if she’s concerned about the “enthusiasm gap.”
“Last night, Bernie Sanders had this incredibly passionate, enthusiastic crowd of 27,000 in Washington Square Park,” said Camerota. “Do you worry that that enthusiasm gap, that we have seen on the campaign trail, will translate into some sort of upset in the primary on Tuesday?” [The NYPD estimated the crowd size to be 11,500.]
“No, I don’t think there’s an enthusiasm gap,” McCray replied. “I’m really happy to see this enthusiasm and all the support from all those people. It just shows that people are engaged; they’re involved. Hillary has a commanding lead. She’s had more states, more votes, and she’s doing very well. I have no doubt. …She’s got a bold vision and people are ready to support her.”
The public—and the media—have long bemoaned the lack of serious candidates who value substance over sound bites. In Hillary, we have a candidate who is serious and substantive, and who is winning both votes and endorsements based on her detail-centered policy approach.
Yet the narrative is that the public is not enthusiastic about her. This is not only inaccurate, but destructive to our expressed desire that candidates be thoughtful campaigners with thoughtful policy ideas.
The last time we saw a candidate get constant flak for being a “boring policy wonk” about whom “no one” was excited was 2000. Al Gore was a robotic nerd, while George W. Bush was a fun guy with whom everyone wanted to have a beer. And we know how that worked out.
We need candidates who know how to govern and who can communicate to voters that they are prepared to govern. If the media don’t want to be complicit in creating an environment in which those sorts of candidates can never be elected, then they need to drop the zombie frame about a lack of enthusiasm for a candidate who cares more that people can trust her than whether they applaud her.
And who, by the way, is winning. By millions of votes.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)