How do you boost Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings with Trumpites? That’s a tough task, considering the enduring popularity of the whole “lock her up” movement. Yet one approach would be to line up a crew of young urbanites, put champagne flutes in their hands and have them recite snarky and demeaning New Year’s resolutions for the twice-failed presidential candidate and former first lady.
And that’s precisely what the people at Vanity Fair’s “The Hive” have done, to considerable social-media backlash.
Maybe it's time for Hillary Clinton to take up a new hobby in 2018 pic.twitter.com/sbE78rA5At
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) December 23, 2017
“It’s time to start working on your sequel to your book, ‘What Happened.’ ‘What the Hell Happened?'” riffs one staffer. Next up: “Get someone on your tech staff to disable autofill on your iPhone so that typing in ‘F’ doesn’t become ‘Form Exploratory Committee for 2020.'”
The presentation reaches peak condescension, with this “resolution”: “Take up a new hobby in the new year: Volunteer work, knitting, improv comedy, literally anything that will keep you from running again.” The tweeted response of @shuboogie pretty much summed up the social-media backlash: “Furious they could gleefully humiliate a woman who fought so hard in a male world & worked for so much progress for the vulnerable: & condescending suggestion she ‘take up knitting’….. as if that’s what women should be doing – instead of giving their lives to politics & causes.” Others pointed out that Clinton was the first woman to secure the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party.
Perhaps Vanity Fair’s satire would have a comedic toehold if Clinton were ramping up for yet another presidential run. Instead, she has issued an airtight statement: “No, I’m not going to run again.” That said, she has declared that she’ll stay active in politics and in the spring launched a group to advance the resistance to President Trump and his allies in Congress:
We're launching Onward Together to encourage people to get involved, organize, and even run for office. https://t.co/8exooosvZ5
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 15, 2017
The cynical politics of Trump and his followers have managed to raise Clinton’s contemporary profile far beyond what would be expected from a failed presidential candidate who had disavowed future political campaigns. And that’s, in part, what makes this treatment so irksome: Create your own stupid political narrative, Vanity Fair!
Maya Kosoff, the Vanity Fair staffer who advises Clinton to take up knitting, tweeted, “i don’t appreciate being taken out of context to make me seem super sexist. this wasn’t a hillary hit piece either, fwiw! we made silly new years resolutions for a bunch of politicians.” Indeed, there are snarky resolutions, using the same formula, for others, including Trump adviser Gary Cohn, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Trump.
The out-of-context defense, however, falls a bit limp. As the webby millennials at Vanity Fair should well know, a discrete piece of video sent out on the company’s Twitter account will be judged on its very own merits. Harshly, in this case.
Beth Kseniak, a spokeswoman for Vanity Fair, writes via email, “It was an attempt at humor and we regret that it missed the mark.”