Democratic Presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted her frontrunner status by demonstrating her clout in setting the news agenda. She obtained interviews on all three network newscasts: taped on CBS and NBC, live on ABC. Even though she made the news of her announcement of her candidacy on Saturday, two days later it was still newsworthy enough to be Story of the Day.

Last month when her rival John Edwards announced, only NBC assigned a reporter, Chip Reid, to cover it. Last Tuesday, when rival Barack Obama announced, he secured coverage from correspondents (ABC's Jake Tapper (subscription required), CBS' Gloria Borger and NBC's Reid) but not the attention of the network anchors. Rodham Clinton warranted the full treatment.

A talking point she articulated in two of the interviews revealed what her campaign must feel is the main weakness of her candidacy, namely that so many voters are so familiar with her that those who dislike her do not have an open mind--or as CBS' Katie Couric put it, "another Clinton Administration, even if it is another Clinton, will feel eerily like Groundhog Day." Thus Rodham Clinton laughed and recapitulated the same phrase to CBS and NBC: "I am probably the most famous woman you do not really know."

CBS' Borger summed up the dilemma: she "knows very well that she is well known and that she comes with an awful lot of political baggage."

To NBC's Brian Williams, Rodham Clinton explained that the timing of her announcement was calculated: she wanted to throw her hat in the ring immediately before tomorrow's State of the Union speech to exaggerate the contrast between herself and President George Bush.

Rodham Clinton was fulsome in her praise of her rival Obama. On CBS she called him "extraordinarily talented" and on NBC "phenomenally accomplished," yet when ABC's Charles Gibson asked her directly whether Obama was qualified to be President, she demurred, settling on "a terrific guy."


You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.