The video of Hillary reacting to a Greenpeace activist who repeated a false talking point about campaign contributions is finally forcing the media to address Bernie’s relentless and misleading character attacks.
The video of Hillary saying, “I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it,” is embedded in news stories and is being played all over cable news and the internet. While we take absolutely no issue with the activist’s right to ask the question, we see this as an important inflection point in the 2016 campaign.
There are two ways the story is being covered. In some places, the video (or just Hillary’s quote) is being shared with little commentary beyond some description of her being angry, usually accompanied by the note that she “jabbed” her finger. This coverage treats the fact of Hillary’s demonstrable anger as the entire story.
And, in the sense that Hillary has been pressured to conceal her emotion—indeed her very humanity—by a media and commentariat who have, for decades, unscrupulously policed her every expression and every turn of phrase, the fact that she refused to abide the unwinnable rules they’ve set for her, is newsworthy all on its own.
But, of course, that is not the real story.
Other media outlets, more responsible ones, are using the incident to actually research and report on Hillary’s statement that Bernie, his staff, his surrogates, and his supporters have lied about her. Repeatedly.
These journalists are digging into the numbers, and finding that, in fact, the insinuation that she has accepted money from the “fossil fuel industry” (or any other industry for that matter) has no justification. It is a smear by innuendo.
This piece by Philip Bump in the Washington Post, filed under the blunt headline, Why Hillary Clinton is justifiably annoyed by criticism of her Big Oil fundraising, is a good example of reporting that gets to the real heart of Hillary’s response: That the accusation is utterly without merit.
At MSNBC’s MaddowBlog, Steve Benen writes:
The Washington Post published a report today, relying on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which drew an important distinction that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle: technically, both Clinton and Sanders have received money from “the oil and gas industry.” … Because of the way contributions are categorized, money from an oil company CEO and a donation from a gas-station janitor are both counted the exact same way: it’s technically money from the “oil and gas industry.”
What Benen is alluding to is that the donations Bernie and his surrogates have tried to taint Hillary with have come from individual employees of the fossil fuel industry, who cannot necessarily be assumed to share the views of their employers. There are places in the United States where fossil fuel companies dominate the employment market. Not everyone has the privilege to only seek employment with companies whose politics perfectly align with their own.
These are among the individuals from whom Hillary has received donations—people employed by the fossil fuel industry. She has never accepted any donations from fossil fuel PACs. And fossil fuel corporations are prohibited by law from making contributions.
This is a significant moment for Hillary and a bad one for Bernie. The media are finally paying attention to Bernie’s misleading attacks.
Hillary stepped outside the perfect calibration pundits and reporters demand of her and appeared, just for a moment, the way Bernie is allowed to appear all the time without special comment: Righteously, passionately angry.
We are glad that she did, and glad that there are media outlets who are responding with credibility. It is long past time that Bernie’s frontal attack on Hillary’s integrity is shown for what it is.
Hillary responded the way she did for a reason. That reason matters. It’s because her opponent keeps implying she’s corrupt without providing an iota of evidence to support that awful claim.
If it takes Hillary responding the way any person would to finally bring Bernie’s actions to light, then we welcome it.
And if you wonder about the “perfect calibration” demanded of Hillary, watch this:
[Peter Daou contributed to this article.]
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)