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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

# Posted 9:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DO JOURNALISTS HAVE IT IN FOR HILLARY? If I were one of her fans, I would've been pissed off by Dan Balz's front-page profile in this morning's WaPo.

Although I do tend to see Hillary as a tactician without core values, I recognize that my opinion is just that: an opinion. An interpretation. An inference. But Balz does quite a job of portraying that opinion as a matter of fact in an article that isn't even labeled as "news analysis".

Although correspondents don't write headlines, this one is telling: "Clinton is a Politician Not Easily Defined; Senator's Platform Remains Unclear". The first half isn't terrible, but "Platform Remains Unclear" may as well be the same as "Flip-flop! Flip-flop!"

The article's first sentence is:
Hillary Rodham Clinton has fashioned a political persona that generates intense passions but defies easy characterization.
Authentic human beings don't fashion personas. As our teachers all told us in elementary school, "Just be yourself. Don't pretend to be someone else just because you want to be popular."

Of course, being oneself is a very hard thing to do, so one ought to cut Hillary some slack. But I don't think many journalists will. Here's another gem from Balz's profile:
Yet for all her fame, there are missing pieces to the Clinton puzzle: What does she stand for? And where would she try to take the country if elected?
One can pretend that such questions are objective and neutral, but Balz's talk of "missing pieces" lets you know these questions are reprimands for Hillary's evasiveness. And then there's this:
For now, [Hillary] is defined by a combination of celebrity and caution that strategists say leaves her more vulnerable than most politicians to charges that she is motivated more by personal ambition and tactical maneuver than by a clear philosophy.
In the name of balance, Balz does include the obligatory quote from Hillary, as well as praise form some of her supporters, followed by antagonistic quotes from Kos and Jerry Falwell. (The juxtaposition of those two was absolutely delightful.)

If you want to defend Balz's approach to Hillary you definitely can. His profile is a long one includes lots of material from both sides. There is one assertion (in the ominiscient, impersonal voice journalists so adore) that "there are clear patterns" to Hillary's behavior on both foreign and domestic issues. Yet on balance, there is no question that this profile belongs with all those that reinforce the caricature of Hillary as yet another slippery Clinton.
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