Brian Fitzpatrick

After Hillary Clinton lost the January 3 Iowa caucuses, she  made “improving likeability” a central campaign strategy, as U.S. News & World Report revealed on January 11.*  All of the questions listed in this parody are the exact queries subsequently asked of Clinton by the cited journalists and TV show hosts.

The following memo was leaked to the Media Research Center by an executive at a prominent news organization.  The memo, addressed to the heads of several major media outlets, was written on the stationery of a leading Presidential candidate. 

From the desk of HRC

This memo has been written to inform you that We believe you are failing to deliver the services you promised during the conference call of January 4, 2008. 

As you no doubt recall, We announced during the January 4 conference that Our campaign is mounting a major effort, the Humanizing Initiative, to convince the American people that We are warm, humble, vulnerable, down-to-earth and above all, likeable.   You agreed to comply with the Humanizing Initiative by providing acquiescent interviewers and camera crews. We agreed that once in office We would show Our gratitude by extending leniency on any misunderstandings you have with the IRS, providing perks like tickets to White House galas, and destroying certain embarrassing FBI files. 

Your work has not risen to Our expectations.  Pay close attention to Our assessments.

Access Hollywood/NBC, January 7-8.

Congratulations for being first out of the gate, just in time for the New Hampshire primary.  We found your interviewer, Maria Menounos, to be sufficiently deferential.  Showing Us apologizing for being two hours late gave Us a compelling appearance of humility, and teasing the interview with “Hillary tackles tough questions” was delightfully droll.  We were able to press all the right emotional buttons thanks to Menounos’s carefully crafted questions:

  • “You’re not made of steel!  You have feelings!”
  • “Do you feel in any way betrayed by women?”
  • “After a hard day like that, do you ever call Bill on a cell phone and just – want to complain?”
  • “Do you have, like, regular woman problems?  Are you obsessed with weight, like we are, or like looks?”
  • “Do you watch any reality shows?”

Unfortunately, your camera work was simply unacceptable.  At one point your cameraman lingered on Our face while Our head was tilted back, giving Us a distinctly imperious air.  Why did your editors fail to snip, snip the undesirable footage?

Newsweek, January 21 edition.

Jon Meacham’s interview was impressive in places, with open-ended questions that allowed Us to deliver any message We pleased to the voters. 

  • “The line in your victory speech in New Hampshire that jumped out at me was ‘I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice.’  What did you mean?”
  • “So your voice now, as you describe it, is telling people not only what you want to do, but who you are, and you are going to be telling that story more.”

However, your cover portrait of Us missed the mark completely.  What were your photoshoppers thinking when they made Our eyes so piercing? Note this well: We do not want visionary, We want warm, likeable, and down-to-earth.  You should have given Our eyes a twinkle, not a glint. This portrait reminds Us of the 1932 Pravda front page photos of Joseph Stalin when he was crushing the kulaks and collectivizing the farms, and had to present himself as the Strong, Resolute Leader nobody dare cross.  We will need such covers later when We nationalize industrial production, ban SUVs, imprison Limbaugh and shut down regressive churches, but that part of the agenda is not scheduled for implementation for another two years. 

Eleanor Roosevelt just told Us you should consult Comrade Stalin’s 1942 Pravda photos (attached).  Pravda was very effective in portraying him as kindly, benign “Uncle Joe” when he needed U.S. assistance during the Great Patriotic War.

Just imagine how Comrade Stalin would have dealt with such incompetence.  

NBC Nightly News, January 16.

Frankly, We expected more from the anchor of a major network evening news program.  Brian Williams was more collegial than deferential.  Tell him to watch his ass.  While Williams wisely avoided the Forbidden Subjects – Our so-called scandals and abuses of power, Our future policy plans and the like – some of his questions were too narrowly political for Us to promote Our likeability. 

  • “How do you explain the energy of a rope line to a rookie?”
  • “What was it that you felt turning in New Hampshire?”

These were better:

  • “You told Jon Meacham, the editor of Newsweek, that you thought the question that caused a brief emotional moment on your part was a moment of grace….How did that question convert itself in your mind into a moment of grace?”
  • “How would this holding room be different if your husband, and entourage, were here?”
  • “At least the food on the road makes it all worthwhile.”

Your worst mistake was failing to put Williams’s best question on the evening news broadcast.  It only appears on your Web site.

  • “I guess I should ask you to look back on the campaign so far.  Akin to the questioning in New Hampshire, it has gotten personal quite early.  How have you kept going?”

Don’t you realize Our core supporters are poorly educated, easily commanded older women who rely on television news for their information, and don’t even know how to get on line?

The Tyra Banks Show/WB, January 18.

The “Hillary Clinton’s Photo Album” feature on your Web site is wonderfully humanizing.  Ms. Banks’s choice of topic – the Turd’s infidelity – was cunningly calculated to elicit sympathy for Us. 

  • “How did you persevere during the darkest moment in your life?”
  • “Were you embarrassed?”
  • “Do women come up to you and ask for advice? ‘My husband stepped out on me. I’m going through hell right now. What do I do?’ Do they do that?”

Well done so far, but once again the camera work was unacceptable. Your cameraman focused for interminable stretches on Our face, revealing that We were looking down at the floor and avoiding eye contact during Our responses.  Such body language conveys deception, as you ought to know.  Deception is not likeable.  Why did your editors fail to splice in more footage of the carefully selected, adoring studio audience?

As you all can see, your work is falling far short of Our expectations.  In consequence, your invitations to the Lincoln Bedroom are now forfeit and your eligibility for White House social lists and mess privileges is in jeopardy.  If your future work improves, however, you will be reinstated on the cattle futures tips list, and We promise to look favorably on your applications for broadcast license renewals.  We suggest you use female interviewers, film editors and camerapersons.

Do not disappoint Us again. Did We mention We intend to employ Our old friend, Craig Livingstone, as Supervisor of IRS Auditing after We are coronated inaugurated?  Also, We have decided to retain those FBI files.

                                                            Your future leader,

H-----------

* On January 11, U.S. News and World Report’s Kenneth T. Walsh reported that “Clinton now plans to take a three-pronged approach into the next series of contests…Last, her strategists say, Clinton will reveal more of her personal side and speak ‘from the heart’ to improve her likeability.”  


Brian Fitzpatrick

Brian Fitzpatrick, a writer, editor, and commentator on political and cultural issues, is the Senior Editor at Media Research Center’s Culture & Media Institute.

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