"I've been more transparent than anybody I can think of in public life," Hillary Clinton declared back in March, responding to inquiries about her still-burgeoning email scandal. Her definition of transparency is an unusual one. In addition to refusing to cooperate with the State Department's nonpartisan Inspector General investigation into her rules-violating and national security-compromising email scheme and stubbornly resisting calls to release transcripts of her high-dollar speeches to Wall Street firms, Mrs. Clinton has not held a press conference in six months. As of midnight tonight, 180 days will have come and gone since Clinton -- who is actively seeking the presidency of the United States -- deigned to participate in a so-called 'media avail' at which journalists pepper political candidates and office-holders with questions on subjects of their choosing. That calculation is based on this NBC News report published on February 29, which at the time marked 87 days since Clinton had answered reporters' questions in, appropriately enough, Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Her evasive streak has continued through the entire months of March, April and May, spilling into June; half a calendar year in total. Even if you very generously count a brief gaggle in Minnesota on March 1 as a "press conference" (questions lasted less than five minutes), she hasn't faced the press for more than three months, while also pulling an about-face on her willingness to debate her Democratic primary opponent. Say what you will about Donald Trump, whose belligerent and scattershot performance yesterday afternoon did little to reassure critics who are concerned about his temperament and fitness for high office; the man eagerly subjects himself to a seemingly endless carousel questions from the media, every single day. Hillary, by contrast, is in hiding -- which betrays another sort of off-putting arrogance.
The Clinton campaign is quick to point out that the former Secretary of State has fielded many questions over the course of town hall meetings (some of which have been tightly restricted), televised debates (prior to declining to participate), and one-on-one media interviews (during which he's scoffed and actively misled when pressed on uncomfortable subjects). That may be true, but one might think that a candidate who is so widely viewed as disingenuous and out-of-touch -- and who earns such poor ratings on honesty and trustworthiness -- might allay some voters' hesitancies by subjecting herself to more consistent scrutiny. Americans expect their leaders to be subjected to serious, sustained questioning on a regular basis; Mrs. Clinton's handlers have shielded her from one of the most free-wheeling and least predictable forums in which said scrutiny is applied since December 4. Of last year. Why? Perhaps it's because their candidate lacks credible answers to some of the important questions she's likely to face.
And perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she frequently seems to create additional problems for herself in these settings. Two of her most memorable encounters with the press corps entailed factually-false or embarrassing responses to email scandal questions. Last March, she unleashed a cyclone of lies about her improper, unsecure email arrangement at a United Nations presser -- the worst of which was her totally false, "there is no classified material" statement. That showing has haunted her ever since. Then came the disastrous August presser, at which she famously replied to pointed questions about wiping her server clean by asking, "like with a cloth?" For what it's worth, Clinton told CNN's Jake Tapper yesterday afternoon that she's sure she'll get around to calling an extended press availability at some point. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. I'll leave you with two tweets and two questions: (1) Does anyone believe that literally anybody has said this to her? Like, ever?
(2) Remember when I doubted that Hillary was capable of following through on laying off the gender card, as reported by the Associated Press? Yeah, about that:
"False" seems generous: pic.twitter.com/2ZMY5qpKkn— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 31, 2016