Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Media, stop trying to crown Hillary Clinton

By Howard Kurtz, Special to CNN
April 3, 2013 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
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
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
October 26, 2014 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1119 GMT (1919 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1212 GMT (2012 HKT)
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2235 GMT (0635 HKT)
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
The Swedes will find sitting on the fence to be increasingly uncomfortable with Putin as next door neighbor, writes Gary Schmitt
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
The Ottawa shooting pre-empted Malala's appearances in Canada, but her message to young people needs to be spread, writes Frida Ghitis
October 26, 2014 -- Updated 0148 GMT (0948 HKT)
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT