TV ap­pear­ances make sure Clin­ton won’t be for­got­ten

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY CHRIS­TIAN TOTO

Hol­ly­wood did all it could to de­posit Hil­lary Clin­ton back into the White House two-plus years ago. She dabbed on “Ellen,” riffed with Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis on “Be­tween Two Ferns” and got an “Avengers”-sized boost via a star-laden pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ment dubbed “Save the Day” just be­fore Elec­tion Day.

It’s hap­pen­ing again, but cul­tural mavens hold mixed opin­ions on why the for­mer first lady is back in our liv­ing rooms and what im­pact, if any, it has on her po­lit­i­cal fu­ture.

Mrs. Clin­ton ap­peared late last month as a sur­prise guest on the pre­miere of CBS’s re­boot of “Mur­phy Brown.” The show’s rat­ings proved soft, but given her cameo wasn’t trum­peted or leaked, the lack of pub­lic in­ter­est couldn’t be held against her.

She also dropped by the sea­son pre­miere of CBS’s “Madam Sec­re­tary” a few days later, along with fel­low for­mer Sec­re­taries of State Madeleine K. Al­bright and Colin L. Pow­ell.

She fol­lowed up those ap­pear­ances with a chat on CBS’s “The Late Show” with Stephen Col­bert.

“This does seem like a back­door way to keep her­self from be­com­ing too for­got­ten in the minds of Hil­lary-friendly au­di­ences of shows like ‘Mur­phy Brown’ and ‘Madam Sec­re­tary’ … al­though it’s fair to won­der whether Hil­lary Clin­ton will ever need help with name ID,” said Jim Ger­aghty, a blog­ger and con­trib­u­tor to the Na­tional Re­view. “It may be that when you’ve spent your en­tire adult life build­ing to­wards a goal and that goal eludes you, this is what you do when you don’t have the Se­nate to re­turn to or some other role in pol­i­tics.

“Bob Dole did Vi­a­gra com­mer­cials. Al Gore went and made a doc­u­men­tary. Hil­lary makes cameos,” Mr. Ger­aghty said.

It’s not as if her po­lit­i­cal fu­ture is per­ma­nently closed. Some Democrats say she was de­feated un­fairly be­cause of Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Oth­ers sug­gest her third at­tempt at the White House could be the charm. A col­umn in The­Week. com is ti­tled “How Hil­lary Clin­ton Could Win in 2020.”

Jef­frey McCall, pro­fes­sor of me­dia stud­ies at DePauw Univer­sity in Green­cas­tle, In­di­ana, said the pub­lic can ex­pect more ap­pear­ances by Mrs. Clin­ton soon.

“She’s clearly eager to stay in the pub­lic eye, and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­ers are happy to pro­vide her a plat­form in which she can try to stay rel­e­vant,” Mr. McCall said. “Hil­lary is not go­ing to pro­vide a ma­jor rat­ings bump, but she does al­low the pro­duc­ers to show their ad­mi­ra­tion and sup­port of her. In that sense, the tele­vi­sion es­tab­lish­ment is, in­deed, mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal state­ment about Hil­lary’s im­por­tance in the pub­lic sphere.”

Den­ver Post colum­nist and ra­dio host Krista Kafer says she un­der­stands Mrs. Clin­ton’s mo­ti­va­tions — to a point.

“It’s hard to get out of the lime­light when you’ve been in it a long time. … She prob­a­bly en­joys it. It’s fun to be on TV,” she said, adding that the for­mer first lady’s “Be­tween Two Ferns” clip show­cased a sense of hu­mor that has not al­ways been ob­vi­ous in her pub­lic ap­pear­ances.

“Some peo­ple are very funny, but they don’t come off that way,” Ms. Kafer said.

More­over, Mrs. Clin­ton did not em­bar­rass her­self in go­ing toe-to-toe with “Mur­phy Brown” Emmy win­ner Candice Ber­gen.

Still, her new me­dia wave may not be the best sce­nario for her po­lit­i­cal party, Ms. Kafer said. “If I were a Demo­crat, I wouldn’t be ex­cited about that,” she said. “[The Clin­ton name] is a bit of a tar­nished brand. … The more she’s in the pub­lic eye, the bet­ter it is for Repub­li­cans.”

Mrs. Clin­ton does have some­thing sub­stan­tial to pro­mote these days beyond a fu­ture cam­paign: She em­barks on a 13-city speak­ing tour next month along with her hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. The tour kicks off af­ter the midterm elec­tions.

Con­ser­va­tive talk show host Vicki McKenna said Mrs. Clin­ton’s me­dia push boils down to “boomer ar­ro­gance.”

“It’s her sim­ple fail­ure to ac­cept her re­spon­si­bil­ity for her loss in 2016,” said Ms. McKenna, whose week­day ra­dio show is heard on WISN 1130 AM in Mil­wau­kee. “She’s try­ing to re­form her rep­u­ta­tion from the dam­age done to it.”

The de­ci­sions could stem from her in­ner cir­cle — folks still eager to pol­ish her pub­lic per­sona.

“They’re try­ing to make her seem cool and ap­peal­ing as a woman, as a cul­tural fig­ure,” said Ms. McKenna, adding that Mrs. Clin­ton’s “Mur­phy Brown” cameo fea­tured a “laid back” side of the for­mer sen­a­tor from New York. “They look at Bernie San­ders. The young folk thought he was cool.”

Mr. McCall said no amount of TV ap­pear­ances can cam­ou­flage a hard truth for Mrs. Clin­ton.

“This kind of cameo stuff comes off as a nov­elty and won’t help re­sus­ci­tate her ca­reer as a po­lit­i­cal leader,” he said. “Rhetor­i­cally, do­ing these tele­vi­sion cameos al­most sig­nals that her real in­flu­ence on the na­tional stage is pretty much over.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.