Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Media, stop trying to crown Hillary Clinton

By Howard Kurtz, Special to CNN
updated 7:30 AM EDT, Wed April 3, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Howard Kurtz: Hillary Clinton getting media coverage without generating any real news
  • Media find it easier to do speculative stories about Hillary than ongoing issues, he says
  • She'd be a great nominee, but she's still not talking, he says; so where's the news?
  • Kurtz: She's seems to be keeping her options open

Editor's note: Howard Kurtz is the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" and is Newsweek's Washington bureau chief. He is also a contributor to the website Daily Download.

(CNN) -- Hillary Clinton is front-page news again. What did she do to warrant this treatment?

Nothing.

The Page 1 splash in The New York Times the other day was a nicely executed compilation of ... sheer speculation. That is, the same sort of chatter that everyone in the political/media world has engaged in since the day after Barack Obama's re-election. And it immediately launched dozens of cable news segments to rehash the rehash.

What explains this? Whatever happened to having to generate a little news, or even pseudo-news, to warrant some coverage?

Watch: Did NBC control damage with Jay Leno/Jimmy Fallon spoof?

The answers, in no particular order:

Howard Kurtz
Howard Kurtz
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



-- It's Hillary. Which means clicks and ratings.

-- Things are slowww right now.

-- Covering the legislative drip-drip-drip over immigration and gun control is boring; handicapping the 2016 race is easy, fun and nonfattening.

-- It's another excuse to write about Bill.

-- The media love Hillary and are not-so-subtly rooting for her to run. First woman president and all that.

Watch: What? Princeton grad urges female students to find husbands

Now there's no denying the obvious: Clinton would be a prohibitive front-runner. Most Democrats hope she'll make a White House run. She would probably be a strong general-election contender, given the Republican Party's disarray, especially after honing her foreign-policy chops as secretary of state.

So how did the Times story advance the dialogue? Let's see:

-- Clinton hasn't made up her mind.

-- Her spokesman says she hasn't made up her mind. Friends say she's ambivalent.

-- Lots of donors would give her money if she ran.

-- Other Democrats are hamstrung, waiting to see what she'll do.

Springtime for Hillary?
Hillary Clinton backs same-sex marriage
The political press will plow this ground again and again until the former first lady makes up her mind.
Howard Kurtz

-- She will be 69 when the next election rolls around.

-- She hasn't issued a Shermanesque statement against running. (See?!)

-- Oh, and she has a half-dozen staffers working for her at a transition office while she gets ready to give big-money speeches.

Watch: Not rocket science -- New York Times defends sexist obit

The coverage seems a bit myopic to me. Hillary Clinton is incredibly popular right now in part because she's had diplomatic immunity for the past four years. Except for the aftermath of the fatal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya -- and the trumped-up fiction about her suffering from "Benghazi flu" -- she has managed to stay out of politics during her tenure at Foggy Bottom.

Now that Clinton is a private citizen, she can steer clear of the crossfire for a couple of years while building her brand and her bank account. The moment she lets it be known that she's running, if she does, the Republican attack machine and conservative media complex will begin beating her up.

That reminds me of a reality that seems to have faded into the ether. Clinton royally botched her campaign last time around. She blew a 30-point lead to a freshman senator, allowed massive staff infighting and failed to fully compete in the caucus states. That doesn't mean she won't learn from her mistakes, but it's hardly an insignificant fact.

Watch: Why Barbara Walters will be missed when she retires

When Clinton, barely out of the Cabinet, made a video endorsing same-sex marriage, it was a clear sign that she's at least keeping her options open for 2016. But there was barely a skeptical note in the press: Why was she changing her stance now, when it was politically safe for a Democrat, from 2008, when such a move would have been courageous?

I wouldn't bet a ton of money against Clinton being the next Democratic nominee, but the 33 months between now and the Iowa caucuses is a political lifetime.

Who would have picked Obama to win in April of 2005? A Times story from that month had Newt Gingrich predicting that Clinton would be the nominee and "very formidable." And any Hillary health problems, of course, could scramble the equation.

The latest New York Times piece is just the beginning. The political press will plow this ground again and again until the former first lady makes up her mind. But keep in mind that the media don't get to conduct a coronation.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Howard Kurtz.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT