Some gaffes are more equal than others -- if you're Hillary Clinton

Fox News Democrat Bob Beckel says that everyone uses plants at town hall events, then explains why it's Clinton who's at risk because of the practice.


Alex Koppelman
November 13, 2007 5:01AM (UTC)

I've written before about "Fox News Democrats," the Democrats employed by Fox News who provide the kind of portrait of a Democrat that the cable channel's viewers want to see. When they're not wimpy losers being beaten up by their more telegenic co-hosts (sorry, Alan Colmes, nothing personal) they're going on the channel to strike out at their own party members, something the channel's Republican partisans shy away from.

Among those who objected to my characterizations was Bob Beckel, who managed Walter Mondale's humiliating loss in the 1984 presidential election. But today it's Beckel who's providing a stellar example of how the Fox News Democrat acts.

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Beckel's quoted in an article on FoxNews.com about the scandal surrounding the use of plants and thereby planted questions by the presidential campaign of the Democratic front-runner, Sen. Hillary Clinton. And he makes a valid point -- everyone does it. In his defense, he even correctly cites the example of President Bush's own campaign events.

But of course it's not Beckel's valid point that gets the attention from Fox's reporter, whose story is headlined "Iowa Voters Could Balk at Clinton Campaign Question-Planting Incident"; it's the one that stretches intellectual consistency.

The first Beckel quote in the piece features the former strategist saying, "I've been involved in four presidential races, and in all of them -- our campaign and our opponents -- all planted questions. There's nothing new about this." So far, so good. But what's puzzling is what he says next: "Does it hurt some? Yes, I think it does. Is it something unusual? I don't think it is. And is it going to change a whole lot of caucus goers' votes? If it's repeated again, I would think it probably would."

I think I've got this straight now: Everybody has always used plants, but it's still uniquely bad when Clinton does it. OK then.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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