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
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery support the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT)
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
ADVERTISEMENT