Recent media stories about Hillary Clinton have centered on her avoidance of press conferences and her campaign's efforts to prevent reporters from getting close enough to ask questions. So just consider, for a moment, how notable it is that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would volunteer her time to a media outlet.
It happened Friday. Clinton apparently made an unsolicited offer to write a farewell post for the Toast, the feminist literary website that built a loyal — but unsustainably small — audience. Friday marked the last day of publishing for the Toast, which was founded in 2013 by Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe.
We found out Hillary Clinton reads the Toast maybe a month ago? I'm still not used to it. Anyhow, she wrote for us https://t.co/bRb7wpY556
— Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) July 1, 2016
Clinton's submission included an editor's note from Cliffe:
This is not a joke. Hillary's team had talked to me a few weeks back about doing something, but I didn't want to do, like, a "If Hillary Were Your President" type thing, and then they got in touch on Wednesday and said she wanted to write something HERSELF (it seems her people show her Two Monks or what-have-you on long campaign days), and I said only if it was funny, and they said, "She was thinking more heartfelt?" and here we are.
Indeed, Clinton didn't really go the funny route, apart from one line recalling dinners with all the women of the Senate in the early 2000s: "Over a glass of wine — okay, maybe three — we'd give each other support, advice, and highly relevant tips to navigate being in such an extreme minority."
This was the crux of her message:
As we look back at what this site has meant to so many of you, I hope you'll also look forward and consider how you might make your voice heard in whatever arenas matter most to you. Speak your opinion more fervently in your classes if you're a student, or at meetings in your workplace. Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions. And if the space you're in doesn't have room for your voice, don't be afraid to carve out a space of your own.
Clearly Clinton was a fan of the Toast, which has been described by one critic this week as a "gleeful kneecapper of high culture, omphalos of cheerful misandry and habitat of the rare courteous and informative comments section." What's also clear is that she was a fan of the Toast's readership and didn't want to miss her last opportunity to address its members.
There is something very Obama-like about Clinton's attention to a niche publication. From "Between Two Ferns" to the "WTF" podcast, President Obama has often sought to make a point through relatively narrow channels — specifically those that are popular in certain corners of his base — while resisting interviews with large, mainstream outlets.
Clinton's farewell to the Toast suggests she might do the same as president. Such a strategy would be sure to excite the readers/viewers/listeners of whichever small outfits she chose to appear on, but it would probably only add to the national press corps's existing frustration.