The headline was tongue in cheek, I guess: “Hillary Clinton Eats Food.”
Her world-famous stop at Chipotle is a metaphor for utter absurdity of the coverage as she rolled to Iowa in a van, which was treated as the most ingenuous form of transportation ever invented.
The contrast between the silliness of the sightings and the serious stakes was, in a word, laughable.
Now the media aren’t entirely to blame for the fact that the dominant Democrat embarked on a magical mystery tour that largely kept them guessing as to her whereabouts. And the press hasn’t entirely rolled over: the New York Times, which broke the private email story, reported yesterday that a House committee asked Clinton in 2012 whether she used such non-government email and the secretary of State ignored the letter.
But the hyperventilating coverage of each Hillary hiccup is an embarrassing spectacle.
When I was on the air last Sunday, the word was that Hillary would release her announcement video at noon, exactly when we got off the air, but we had contingency plans in case it was released or leaked early. As it turned out, the “noon” assumption was based on one web report, and the short video surfaced three hours later. But this, as well as the question of just where Hillary Rodham Clinton would be on Sunday, was typical of the surreal secrecy surrounding her journey.
I get that the Hillary camp is trying to project an aura of spontaneity and informality. But the whole Scooby Doo strategy also seems to me a giant dis of the press corps.
Fox's Ed Henry reports from Iowa:
"Most of the reporters looking like giddy Access Hollywood or TMZ correspondents on a red carpet were foreign correspondents from around the world (and some domestic ones too) who did not get credentials for the Clinton event for space reasons...The point is on the White House beat I have sometimes seen correspondents from around the world cover President Obama like an international celebrity -- or fascination -- instead of a commander-in-chief."
It’s not that any candidate has to cater to the journalistic mobs. I presume that over time Hillary will do some interviews and be forced to answer difficult questions.
Having taken an imperious approach to Iowa last time, when her third-place finish paved the way for Barack Obama, Hillary is trying to connect with small groups of voters. So you have the weird theatricality of dozens of journalists camped outside of staged meetings with a handful of Iowans where Hillary tries to conduct low-key conversations.
The result is watching ordinarily sophisticated journalists opining on the chicken burrito order, the significance of Hillary not being recognized, the failure to work the fast-food joint and the artificiality of van travel—decrying the traveling circus even as they are part of it.
We are subsisting on the scraps that Hillary is throwing us while complaining about being malnourished. It’s not a pretty sight.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.