On Thursday morning, Sept. 8, Hillary Clinton held a good old-fashioned news conference. A podium in front of her campaign plane. Reporters asking her questions on camera. Give and take. The whole shebang.

It was the first time she had done so since early December — a span of more than 270 days that led to an ongoing negative storyline about Clinton's lack of transparency and her standoffish relationship with the media. (There is some debate about whether Clinton broke her no-news-conference streak over the weekend on her plane. I tend to see the event today as the first traditional news conference held by her since December.)

And, nothing happened. The world didn't stop spinning. Toilets still flushed the same way. Pokémon Go was still super-lame. All of which led to the question: What the heck took so long?

AD
AD

I've written before that Clinton has struggled with news conferences — most notably one she held at the United Nations after the revelations about her decision to use a private email server and use it exclusively during her time as secretary of state.

But the reasons for those struggles seemed primarily rooted in the fact that she held news conferences only in reaction to negative news events — and even then very infrequently. Because of that approach, Clinton was, by definition, on the defensive and facing a heavily pressurized situation from the get go.

It's like telling people you are going to reveal the future of journalism on Dec. 18, 2019.  By the time you get to that day, people will have been waiting a very long time for your big reveal. Their expectation is that it is going to be amazing. And if it isn't amazing, they are going to pillory you. Contrast that with trying daily, weekly or even monthly to innovate in journalism. The bar is way lower for success. As are the expectations.

AD
AD

That's why it never made sense for Clinton to wait so long to do the (relatively) simple task of taking questions on camera from journalists.

Take Clinton's event today. She used the first three or four minutes to draw the media's attention to Donald Trump's uneven — to be generous — performance at NBC's forum on national secrity on Wednesday night. She then took  a handful of questions. The first — on why she wasn't further ahead of Trump — was somewhat adversarial. But the rest of the questions were relatively generic —about the Republican National Committee's comments about Clinton and Gary Johnson's ignorance about where Aleppo is. There were no questions about her emails — much to the consternation of Republicans.

The broader point is this: The news conference wasn't terribly painful for Clinton. It probably helps her continue to drive a negative news cycle for Trump, focused on his odd comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin and military generals. And, perhaps most importantly, it begins to unravel the common perception among the public that Clinton is neither honest nor trustworthy.

Politics is sometimes simpler than we all make it out to be. Maybe Clinton figured that out this morning.

AD
AD