MANCHESTER, N.H., Oct. 5, 2015 — Hilary Clinton was pilloried by Savannah Guthrie in a “Today” show interview that questioned her honesty, voters’ lack of trust in her and her veracity regarding her emails and the Benghazi investigation.
In a series of scathing but unapologetically direct questions, Guthrie grilled Clinton repeatedly on her changing responses to the email question, her unlikability among voters and her inability to stop the rise of Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Clinton responded with trademark answers, blaming Republicans for making Benghazi and her emails a partisan political matter, and repeatedly citing Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s comments suggesting that the Benghazi Select Committee was aimed at lowering Clinton’s poll numbers.
McCarthy’s comments have been repudiated by Rep. Trey Gowdy and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, among others, but the rhetorical damage has been done, and Clinton repeatedly referenced McCarthy’s remarks in an angry response.
Guthrie was undeterred. Speaking of voters’ attitudes, she observed, “They just don’t connect with you, they don’t trust you, they might not like you.”
“That really hurts my feelings,” Clinton replied, trying to seem lighthearted about the subject but increasingly irritated by the line of questioning.
“Are you having trouble connecting?” asked Guthrie.
“Well, I don’t know,” Clinton said defensively. “You can ask me that, and it’s not the nicest question to hear … I’ll admit I’m more a reserved person than maybe some people in politics are.”
Shifting to the email question and Clinton’s simultaneous apology to voters and attack on Republicans over the issue, Guthrie asked, “If you’re blaming Republicans, then how genuine is that apology?”
Clinton replied with a canned response about her email arrangement and its approval by the State Department.
Guthrie interrupted her, asking almost incredulously, “Do you get how bad this looks?”
Clinton’s response was telling. She launched into another recitation of her version of the email timeline and called the Republican investigation “beyond the pale.”
She even suggested that the committee may be disbanded before she testifies.
It was a blunt and honestly confrontational interview that showed Clinton holding the line and conceding nothing and showed Guthrie to be a seasoned and aggressive reporter willing to go to the mat to provoke a spontaneous, more honest response from Clinton.
Clinton never explained why she lied to the American people for two weeks following Benghazi, when she was fully aware that it was a terrorist event and not the result of a “horrible video we had nothing to do with.” That’s a lie she told directly to the families of the dead.
Also unexplained was her server arrangement, which compromised national security and was almost certainly hacked and followed in real time by foreign intelligence agencies, regardless of her denials.
By pre-emptively attacking the Benghazi committee’s motives, Clinton is laying the groundwork for her appearance later in October. Chairman Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, has deposed numerous witnesses in private sessions in preparation for her appearance.
Clinton repeatedly observed that this was the seventh or eighth congressional investigation of Benghazi, to which Guthrie replied that this was the first congressional committee that was given access to her emails after she had actively prevented their access for years.
It was a remarkably adept display of journalistic doggedness that Guthrie should be proud of. Clinton did her best to avoid revealing anything, in the process revealing the very aspects of her personality that Guthrie called into question.