Wait… Hillary Clinton Hasn't Held A Press Conference In 180 Days?
Hillary Clinton has not hosted a press conference in six months.
Donald Trump, in contrast, has had one what seems like every single week for the past six months.
Reporters and election followers are not particularly pleased with this. A press conference allows for reporters to ask candidates important and (presumably) hard-hitting questions candidates may not speak about in speeches or on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
So when the State Department released a report last week about Clinton's email mess, for instance, the press could have asked her about it and maybe gotten some answers. Instead, we got no comment from Clinton on the Most Boring Controversy In Politics.
Claire Landsbaum at New York Magazine argued we should stop asking Clinton to give a press conference. The article says Clinton probably isn't giving press conferences because the media would treat her unfairly and she just isn't comfortable doing them.
I'd argue that an even more important factor in Clinton's apparent reluctance to hold press conferences is that she knows they're not her strong suit… She knows she has a much better chance of controlling the situation if she can field questions during, say, a nationally televised town hall.
These are all pretty obvious observations. Of course, Clinton isn't hosting press conferences because she wants more control over her campaign and is playing to her strengths.
Clinton isn't as naturally charismatic as Trump — or Bill — and over the past 25 years, the media has often been more cruel to her than necessary (Sexism! It's real!). She looks better talking to people one-on-one than in grand moments.
It's great campaign strategy, but it's no excuse to back away from press access. And saying the press should just let a candidate play to their strengths is antithetical to the purpose of the press.
The point of journalists covering politicians is to keep the public informed and to keep politicians on watch. The number one thing a journalist should never do is stop asking for access to an important figure.
Clinton is already known for not giving the press a lot of access. Even the press corps that has been trailing her every movement this campaign feel that she is avoiding them. Or, as Annie Karni told Vogue:
I think she hates us.
Amy Chozick, a New York Times reporter in Clinton's press corps, threw some shade at Clinton's lack of press conferences this week:
The press wants to talk to Clinton because there are questions that need answers, like the damn emails.
Should she become president, Clinton would have to get used to facing the press. Even if you're not charismatic, the presidency is a public position. At some point, you've just got to suck it up and do the thing by talking to the people.
Not to mention, by shying away from the press, Clinton isn't exactly helping to counter the narrative she is secretive — and thus untrustworthy, which many people believe about her.
Trump has gained an aura of “authenticity” in large part by being completely open to the press and public. He may be outwardly mean to the press and he may not ever actually answer a press question in any meaningful way, but he is there, present and speaking.
Clinton could benefit from doing the same. For her sake and ours, it's time for her to have a stupid press conference.
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