Examining the reaction to Clinton's hospital story

Even Democrats were quick to jump on Hillary Clinton when it appeared one tale she told on the stump was untrue.

By Alex Koppelman

Published April 9, 2008 4:47PM (EDT)

Hello, everyone -- popping in for a moment to post my latest video for our partners at Current.

In this one, I discuss the recent flap over a story Hillary Clinton had been telling on the stump about a pregnant woman who was refused treatment at a hospital for inability to pay. As a result, Clinton had said, the woman and her baby died. Clinton's account was questioned, however, by an administrator at what was thought to be the hospital in question, and when the New York Times' Deborah Sontag wrote about the administrator's concerns, many people were quick to jump on Clinton. It turns out that Clinton's version of the woman's death was essentially accurate, though mistaken in some aspects. (The woman was insured when she died, and it was not the hospital that refused treatment but a clinic -- the clinic wanted the woman to pay $100 toward a debt she had there.)

As I say in the video, what I found especially interesting about this whole thing was the reaction by liberals and Democrats to Sontag's report. Obviously, any blogger or journalist should start out skeptical -- the old cliché about reporters is that if your mother says she loves you, you should check it out. Additionally, there's special reason to vet the stories Clinton tells on the trail -- among other things, her recent lies about her experiences in Bosnia. Still, it's somewhat strange to see Democrats immediately pile on a prominent figure in the party based on the word of a hospital administrator whose hospital may have had a financial interest in challenging the story. That's not exactly the way things usually work (the same is true on the other side -- for a parallel, imagine Republicans taking Al Gore's word over global-warming denier Sen. James Inhofe's), and it is, I think, emblematic of the ways the prolonged primary campaign is affecting the intraparty dynamic.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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