Mrs. Clinton is not expected to face comparably aggressive opponents for her party’s nomination…Which leaves the news media.
Mrs. Clinton has long had a fraught relationship with journalists, given their demands for full disclosure and her own long-held belief that public figures deserve a “zone of privacy,” as she put it during Bill Clinton’s race in 1992, or a “scope” of “personal privacy,” as she said on Tuesday.
With her first words at the news conference — asking reporters, “All set?” before delivering her remarks — Mrs. Clinton began a new and extraordinary chapter in her political life, one that could well last until the Democratic nomination is hers….by holding the 21-minute news conference, in which she mounted a lawyerly defense through gritted teeth (“Let me try to unpack your multiple questions,” she told one reporter), she undertook the first round of sparring in an opponent-deprived but nonetheless pugilistic phase of the campaign that seems apt to last until a likely Republican nominee emerges next spring.
“Democratic primary voters may let her have the presidential nomination without a struggle, but the press won’t,” said Robert Shrum, a Democratic strategist who has advised several presidential candidates including Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. “The press will wage a kind of primary campaign against her, at least try to bring her down a peg or two. In the end, she will be the nominee, but she has to go through it first.”
Tuesday was surely just her first face-off with the political press corps. And Election Day is 20 months away. “I don’t think the press primary is helpful: It can get very annoying and distracting,” Mr. Shrum said. “Al Gore got tortured by the press for claiming that he invented the Internet, which he never claimed. But it’s hard to predict which controversies in the media will actually end up hurting.”