(STORRS, Conn.) — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her frustrations about the current state of media on Wednesday night, describing what she sees as an “entertainment-driven” approach to news that is “not good for the country and not good for journalism.”
The potential 2016 frontrunner, 66, made her less-than-flattering comments during a Q&A session at her first-ever appearance at the University of Connecticut following her keynote address at the Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum in which nearly 2,300 students and faculty were in attendance.
Using questions submitted by students, University President Susan Herbst asked Clinton about the role journalists could play in resolving the gridlock in Congress. Clinton took the question — and ran with it.
“I think journalism has changed quite a bit in a way that is not good for the country and not good for journalism,” Clinton said, venting about her concern that a more ratings-driven approach to television has led to theatrics over facts. “A lot of serious news reporting has become more entertainment-driven and more opinion-driven, as opposed to factual. People book onto the shows political figures, commentators who will be controversial, who will be provocative, because it’s a good show. You may not learn anything, but you might be entertained.”
Clinton argued that the obligation to show “two sides” to every story can be detrimental to a viewer’s understanding of complicated issues, citing climate change deniers and the handling of the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s OK to have people who ask hard questions about what we’re going to do about climate change, who come at it in a very vigorous, scientific way, but not to have people who just basically roll their eyes and say, ‘It’s not happening,’ and, ‘I’m not going to participate.’” she said. “And the Affordable Care Act…people didn’t really understand what was happening with it because all they saw was an argument about it. So we didn’t even give them the basic facts to make up their own minds.”
Even so, Clinton said she was optimistic that the issues “plaguing” journalism today could be resolved with some “professional tweaking” on the part of journalists.
“It’s important for journalists to realize that they have to do their homework, too,” she said. “They really should be well prepared when they interview people, when they talk about issues, because audiences usually tune in to see whoever the journalist is. And so that person has a responsibility, as well.”
Clinton also addressed immigration and her support of the bipartisan immigration bill, the situation in Ukraine and the need for more sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Edward Snowden and his “odd” decision to seek asylum in Russia.
Earlier in the day, Clinton spoke at a women’s conference in Boston, where the potential presidential frontrunner, whose critics have asked whether she is too old to run for president in 2016, suggested that advanced age was a reason to embrace older women in positions of authority.
Older women “feel like they’ve fulfilled their responsibilities, their kids are out on their own. It’s now time for them to show what they can do!” she said.
Though women may take breaks from the workforce to care for children or aging relatives, she said, “their brains have not atrophied.”
Clinton gave few hints at either event about her plans to run in 2016 — nor did she reflect on her soon-to-be title: grandma — now that her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, is pregnant.
The president of the University of Connecticut, however, presented Clinton with two UConn “Husky” onesies for the future Clinton grandchild.
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