If she doesnâ€™t run, the single biggest factor holding her back will be the media, according to an informal survey of three dozen friends, allies and former aides interviewed for this article. As much as anything else, her ambivalence about the race, they told us, reflects her distaste for and apprehension of a rapacious, shallow and sometimes outright sexist national political press corps acting as enablers for her enemies on the right.
Clinton isnâ€™t insane, and sheâ€™s not stupid. â€œWhen you get beat up so often, you just get very cautious,â€ says Mike McCurry, her husbandâ€™s former press secretary, who joined the White House team to find a first lady traumatized by the coverage of her failed Hillarycare initiative. â€œShe [has] had a very practical view of the media. â€¦ â€˜I have to be careful, Iâ€™m playing with fire.â€™â€
And while the white-hot anger she once felt toward the media has since hardened into a pessimistic resignation (with a dash of self-pity), sheâ€™s convinced another campaign would inevitably invite more bruising scrutiny, as her recent comments suggest. Public life â€œgives you a sense of being kind of dehumanized as part of the experience,â€ she lamented a few weeks ago to a Portland, Ore., audience.
â€œYou really canâ€™t ever feel like youâ€™re just having a normal day.â€
When asked why Clinton hasnâ€™t done more to reach out to reporters over the years, one Clinton campaign veteran began to spin several theories. She was too busy, she was too prone to speaking her mind and the likeâ€”then abruptly cut to the chase:
â€œLook, she hates you. Period. Thatâ€™s never going to change.â€
Where does her hatred of the media comes from?
But consider this recent speech by one of the more improbable rising stars in Clintonworld: her tormentor-turned-defender David Brock, who exposed many of the ugliest Arkansas scandals of the Clinton years when he was a conservative investigative reporter in the 1990s. â€œFox has accused Hillary Clinton of murder, compared her to a murderer and suggested she commit suicide,â€ Brock told a crowd at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in March, arguing that sheâ€™s the ultimate victim of â€œmisogyny.â€