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On Credentials, Nepotism, & Chelsea Clinton

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Last Monday, November 14th, the National Broadcasting Corporation announced that have hired the estimable Chelsea Clinton as a full-time special correspondent for NBC News. The appointment, effective immediately, will assign Ms. Clinton to stories on the NBC Nightly News and its “Making A Difference” series, according to Steve Capus, President of NBC News.


Capus, who insists that this is a serious hire for a legitimate job, told the New York Times that he had been contacted by an “intermediary” on young Chelsea’s behalf and that this rather shadowy figure indicated that Ms. Clinton was interested in a career as a television journalist at NBC News. Capus could be excused if he told this intermediary that a lot of talented people who had paid their dues in the television news industry had been waiting in line outside of NBC for years, and that their just wasn’t anything available at the moment. Mr. Capus, however, obligingly arranged a meeting with the former first daughter and asked her, “What are you interested in doing?” The pair had a pleasant conversation, and…Voila, A Television Journalist Was Born!

At first glance, this new appointment would seem to continue the practice of public figures turning to journalism, thus blurring the line between politics and news. This phenomenon goes all the way back to the 1970s when former Nixon aides Pat Buchanan and William Safire made the transition from politics to prestige journalism, with each becoming highly respected and influential. David Gergen and Patrick J. Caddell trod the same path in the 1980s, as did George Stephanopoulos in the 1990s.

It is not unheard of for Presidential and Vice-Presidential kids, trading on their names, to get in on the act. Eleanor Mondale, the daughter of former Vice-President Walter Mondale, worked a number of radio and local TV gigs before landing at NBC, ESPN & CBS respectively. Recently, NBC hired Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, as an occasional correspondent for the network’s “Today” show.


Chelsea Clinton, however, takes the practice of trading on her surname to new heights. She is simply cashing in on the celebrity of her mother and father, and has been doing so for the eleven years since the Clinton show closed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Yet, Steve Capus, the NBC boss states, “Given her (Chelsea’s) vast experience, its as though she has been preparing for this opportunity her entire adult life.” Oh, really?

Chelsea Clinton, simply stated, has no qualifications for a job in television journalism, save for her family connections. Her sainted mother Hillary is the former carpetbagger Senator from New York, and the current US Secretary of State. Her father is Bill Clinton, reputedly the most successful American President since Jimmy Carter, and the most intelligent person in the world not named Al Gore. That is all that Chelsea Clinton brings to the new position at NBC News. The fortuitous circumstances of her parentage offer her spectacular opportunities and potentially, great riches. An eighteenth - century French Nobleman of the Second Estate would blush at this good fortune and the rank opportunism that it has been employed toward.

A cursory examination of Chelsea Clinton’s life since she began college reveals a remarkably scant record of little effort and no accomplishment. Ms. Clinton began college at Stanford in the Pre-Med program, but changed majors, and finished with a BA degree in History. She spent a year working on an International Relations graduate degree at Oxford, but a Clinton spokesperson announced that she would not be returning the Oxford the following year. This inconvenience has not stopped Ms. Clinton from claiming that she completed the Oxford degree. When Chelsea did not return to Britain in 2002 she basically idled around in New York doing very little. She was photographed in coffee shops smoking, and generally passing time, although she did take legal action against one coffee shop for using her image without authorization. During this time Ms. Clinton did not have a job, but she did hire a “personal assistant” to schedule her meetings and plan her affairs.


Eventually young Chelsea Clinton got a job. Her famous father arranged a position for her on Wall Street, by leaning on a hedge fund manager who had contributed substantial amounts of money to the Clinton campaigns in 1992 and again in 1996. Chelsea’s duties and responsibilities were unclear, and most of her co-workers rarely saw her, but she took home a six-figure salary.

Miss Clinton worked at this job for a little over a year, and then took a leave of absence, to travel and give speeches for her mom on the campaign trail in 2008. The infamous Clinton propaganda machine was much in evidence during this period in Chelsea’s life. The young woman attacked Barack Obama, John Edwards, and John McCain on behalf of her mother, but refused to talk to the press. She bristled at questions from audiences, even in the friendliest of forums. The Clinton propaganda machine, however, characterized her campaigning as magnificent. They implied that she was a cross between John F. Kennedy and William Jennings Bryan. A New York Times puff piece rounded up some of Chelsea’s friends and maneuvered them to state that Chelsea is the smartest person of her generation, and that she would undoubtedly hold high office someday.

Since 2009 Ms. Clinton has taken a number of foreign travels with her mother. She reportedly married a man named Marc Mezvinsky in the summer of 2010, although no mention was made of her husband in the news reports about the new NBC job.


So, the reader can discern that Chelsea Clinton is a woman of modest accomplishments. She has been given, and has used, all of the tools at her disposal to make the most of American life. She has gone to the best schools, she has earned a handsome salary in a job requiring little work, and she has broadened herself through travel at taxpayer and campaign contributor expense. She has lived a life of comfort and privilege but, to date, has accomplished little of significance.

Still, the Clinton propaganda machine continues to work overtime. The AP wire story on the NBC job stated, “Clinton, the only child of former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is pursuing a doctorate at Oxford, and working for the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.” So let’s total things up: Chelsea is a doctoral student at Oxford, a young wife, barely passed the newlywed stage, and now a fulltime correspondent at NBC News. Each of these roles requires a substantial time commitment, even if one is a presidential child and a super high achiever. Good luck trying to keep everything together and in perspective.

In today’s world the lines between news, entertainment, and celebrity have disappeared. Chelsea Clinton, famous for nothing but her bloodlines, is a celebrity who will now work in entertainment at NBC, which will be labeled “news”. Again, in modern times, qualifications are not earned, they are a birthright…and, yes, Chelsea Clinton is a serious journalist!


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