While watching Hillary's mini press conference on board her plane the other day, I was reminded of a very funny scene from a classic Honeymooners' episode in which Alice tries to butter up Ralph so that he'll buy her a TV. The scene tends to get lost because of the exchanges between Ralph and Norton later on in the episode. I'm not sure if Hillary is a fan of the Honeymooners, but she sure did her best Alice impersonation on that plane the way she worked the press corps. In case you missed it, I'll paraphrase it for you in a way that would make Mrs. Kramden proud.
Hillary: Hi everybody. I thought I'd stop by here to see how all of you are doing. I hope you're all comfortable. You know I just love hanging with you all and answering your questions. It's important that we have that back and forth. Is there anything I can get you before we begin?
The Press: Yeah, give us what you're having. We want to get loaded too.
Hillary: Oh now, come on guys. I'm serious. Look, we only have two months left and it's vital that all your concerns be addressed. You have a very difficult job to do, so please, make yourself at home and be sure to grab some refreshments in the back of the plane, and, oh, by the way...
The Press: Ah, ha! We knew there had to be a by the way in there somewhere. Ok, let's have it. What's by the way?
Hillary: Well, if you must know...
And then Alice, I mean Hillary, explained what the "by the way" was. One by one she listed all the news-worthy issues that one Donald J. Trump has. The kind of issues that the press corps is supposed to be covering but for some strange reason seems to be glossing over. Trump University, the payoff to the Florida A.G., all the hits. She smiled, she was cordial but she was detailed. She was serving notice: summer vacation is over; it's time to get back to work.
Was she successful? You be the judge. Less than 24 hours after her "press conference," Politico ran this piece by Nick Gass documenting the "pay for play" malfeasance between Pam Bondi and the Trump Foundation. Coincidence? I doubt it. Face it, Michael Tomasky was being way too kind when he said the press "follows narratives set in place by political actors." Frankly I've always thought of them as being lazy lap dogs, all too eager to lick whatever hand happens to be in front of them. Witness Matt Lauer's disgraceful suck up to Trump in Wednesday night's forum. Lauer did everything but dry hump and French kiss him.
But Tomasky does have a point. Clinton needs the press far more than they need her. Despite what the wingnuts on the Right keep insisting, she's not well liked by them. For one thing, unlike her husband, Hillary has a tendency to be abrasive and her often cold demeanor can be off-putting even to those who might otherwise be supportive. This, coupled with some unintended missteps, has led to an erosion of her once "insurmountable" lead. Tomasky writes,
One of the reasons the polls tightened recently is that Clinton was largely off the trail, not firing many shots at Trump. So if Clinton wants Bondi and Trump University to be an issue, then the course of action is very simple: Make it an issue! Raise it on the trail. She did that yesterday, and she got some decent coverage out of it.
It is quite an indictment of our Fourth Estate that our politicians are forced to do their jobs for them, but that appears to be the case here. Give Clinton this much: when push came to shove she knew what had to be done and she did it. Only time will tell if she her efforts amount to anything.