Monday, February 11, 2008

Despite Tightness in Democratic Race, Clinton Still holds on to Family Values

Whenever you are running for a political office it’s not uncommon to face attacks and criticisms, particularly ones that are very personal and strike against your character or actions. These attacks, which in any other scenario would probably be viewed as vile and downright wrong, are in fact simply viewed as common practice and possibly acceptable in a political arena. Perhaps it’s one of those unwritten rules about politics. That the ethics and morality in a profession are somehow trivialized when it’s two politicians going against each other. But when these attacks come from so-called neutral sources such as a news outlet, then, somehow the issue of ethics and morality are now relevant and someone must step in to draw that so-called “line in the sand.”

This is exactly what happened to Hillary Clinton last week as an MSNBC reporter criticized the presidential candidate, claiming that by using her daughter to contact superdelegates to build up support for the Senator, that she was “pimping out” her daughter. Despite all the backlash and personal attacks that have been going on between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, this 3+ minute clip (which can be viewed on youTube)

has erupted into something that has definitely wound up hurting this reporter’s image and may very well end up hurting MSNBC. In response to this comment, the Clinton campaign has pretty much vilified the network, claiming that the news station has had a history of making coarse remarks against the Senator and her campaign and that Clinton may even boycott the MSNBC Democratic debate scheduled for February 26th.

As a result of the MSNBC comment as well as the reaction by the Clinton campaign, the question then comes down to whether or not Senator Clinton overreacted and took this comment out of context. Just the term, “pimping out” derives more connotations than its actual meaning and for me, I see images of the popular MTV show Pimp My Ride, screenshots of the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto and scenes from the movie Hustle & Flow. Is this the kind of company I would want to see my daughter in? Probably not. However, I do have to believe that any normal person who views this clip would think that the reporter was simply referring to the Clinton’s using their daughter and star power to stir up support and votes. I cannot see how anyone could think that, literally, Senator Clinton was “pimping out” her daughter in a sexual way, especially since the background clips show Chelsea fully clothed and without any intimation of sex or prostitution.

Now that we have addressed what exactly was said, we have to think about the context in which it was used. Would this comment be as offensive if the reporter stated that the Clinton campaign was not “pimping out” but “using” their daughter? Obviously not. However, this comment was aired on a cable newstation. Moreover, this bit aired on a talk show where controversy is always built into the schedule. There was a guest from either “side” as to prevent a one-sided news coverage and in all seriousness, networks love creating controversy. They love it because they know that the public loves it. And if the public loves it that means ratings go up, as well as advertisements. The comment that aired on MSNBC, although perhaps tasteless, was never meant to offend anyone. And the threat that Clinton made towards MSNBC that she may back out of the debate, may highlight that she still does value her family. However, given that she is running for President and that Barack Obama is hot on her heels, perhaps her reaction was meant to spark some energy into her dwindling campaign.


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