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 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016.
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT