Though CNN touted its Tuesday session with Hillary Rodham Clinton as a “town hall exclusive,” a great number of American towns apparently didn’t tune in. The hour-long interview, which took place in the Knight Studio of the Newseum, just managed to edge out MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” in the 5 p.m. television ratings. That’s what happens when you traffic in a commodity interviewee: Clinton had already done sessions with ABC News, NBC News and Terry Gross’s “Fresh Air,” all as part of the promotional tour for her book “Hard Choices.”
Small viewing crowd notwithstanding, the Clinton camp couldn’t have been upset with the outcome. The quite-probable 2016 presidential candidate thrived in the town hall format, making nice little connections with the citizen-questioners and chatting with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about the minutiae of diplomacy. The questions helped, too. Tim Graham of NewsBusters opines that five of the six questions from audience members came from a liberal perspective, while four of the five “neutral” questions were “softballs.”
Clinton did field a question asking her to clarify her history on the gay marriage issue. And she did have to take on a question about whether President Obama had quit Iraq too early. But she also got to help herself to this one: “My question is, if you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?” That came from George Washington University business student Krisstarah Gonzalez.