Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff gave her press pool and other reporters covering her visit to the 911 memorials the old head fake this weekend — now you see me and now you don’t.
Had it not been for social media and a guy with a camera who happened to be there recording as madam Secretary’s knees unceremoniously buckled, no one would have been the wiser about her pneumonia.
The video appears to show her passing out. In fact, if you watch carefully, it looks like she’s about to do a face plant, but was caught by those around her and hustled onto the van that drove her away — away from the unsuspecting eyes of the BIG TIME correspondents whose job it is to tell us where she is and what she’s doing. Oops!
Reporters, especially the more priggish and overweening types who tend to make up the Washington press corps, are extremely hung up about their turf. In fact, they are downright mean about it. I wish somebody had warned me.
- Rick Sanchez
There are two big takeaways here. One, don’t ever let some big time media elitist, like those who are part of Clinton’s press pool, ever again tell you how stupid and useless social media is, because they will and they would be wrong again.
Forgive me, but I have to add something personal here. When I worked at CNN, I became the first national broadcast journalist to incorporate social media into my daily newscast — Rick’s List. I should have known right then and there that my days would be numbered.
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I was hated for it. The general consensus, especially among members of the network’s Washington Bureau, was that I had bastardized their magnificent model by letting everyday people like you and me share information and opinions on CNN’s air.
To be fair, there were many, many young producers, writers and reporters at CNN who thought the introduction of Twitter was the coolest thing that had happened in that building since Ted Turner had decided to color correct "Gone With the Wind." Also on board were CNN President Jon Klein and Vice President Ken Jautz.
But to the boys in DC and many other CNN elders, I was Satan. It was a horrible combination for them, for starters I was Hispanic and I had a very highly rated show that wasn’t on weekends. In cable news, minorities are usually only displayed on weekends — hence the designation minority corner known mostly to those of us who’ve toiled on Saturdays and Sundays.
But then I had to really piss them off by starting this new Twitter thing on my show? Their reaction went something like this: "Who the hell do you think you are turning over our network to a bunch of morons on Twitter, Facebook and My Space?" (Yes, we actually included My Space back then.)
The point I’m trying to make here is that reporters, especially the more priggish and overweening types who tend to make up the Washington press corps, are extremely hung up about their turf. In fact, they are downright mean about it. I wish somebody had warned me. I might still be working there.
By the way, a few years after I left CNN, the network did a special on Twitter. By now they had fully embraced it. The network made a big deal of how CNN anchors and reporters like Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer had embraced Twitter. How novel? Guess who never even got a mention? Hmm!
So yes, reporters in Washington assigned to Clinton were beaten by the very thing they hate most — some guy with a camera, to them just another moron on social media.
But here’s the second takeaway and perhaps the real question: Why didn’t they cover it? Why weren’t they there? It’s simple, that’s because press pool reporters generally only go where they’re told to go by Clinton’s staff. They travel on a bus that is designated to them, and most if not all of their instructions come from Clinton’s handlers. So when Clinton got sick, her staff simply got her out without reporting it until several hours later. The Clinton press pool was left in the dark.
That’s the price that a working journalist assigned to a press pool pays today for access to a candidate — and if they do a good job and mind their P’s and Q’s, eventually they may even get to yuck it up with them at the correspondent’s dinner.