On Capitol Hill, where she works, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s efforts to protect herself from the media are unrivaled. Despite being such a high-profile senator, she rarely schedules press conferences and avoids the media stakeouts where reporters approach members with their questions and conduct quick, impromptu “hallway interviews” in designated areas in the Capitol.
Most senators are accessible on Capitol Hill and regularly chat with reporters on their way to make a statement on the Senate floor or while walking from their offices to the Capitol for a roll call vote. It is not unusual to see Sen. Trent Lott (R.-Miss.) joking with journalists outside the Senate chamber long after media stakeouts or weekly policy luncheons have ended, or to find Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) fraternizing with reporters while waiting for an elevator.
But as I reveal in my new book, “The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’s Dossier on Hillary Clinton,” the New York senator does things differently.
Reporters have learned not to approach Sen. Clinton in the halls of the Capitol. Experienced journalists have found that she answers nearly all on-the-spot questions with a variation of “I don’t know”—a safe answer for her that renders the interviews useless, and prevents coverage of her views on any issues on which she has not sought coverage.
After a vote she breezes past reporters to a car waiting outside, avoiding any interviews. Clinton is not impolite, but makes it very clear she is unwilling to chat. When I asked her if she would use any of her personal money for her campaign, she completely avoided eye contact with me, although we were only a few inches from each other. Other reporters stood watching, wondering if this would be a rare occasion to get a few quotes from her.
Not only did she not answer the question, she didn’t even offer a greeting. She continued walking steadily to her car. Clinton kept her eyes straight ahead, coolly slipped on a pair of sunglasses, and said, “Oh, I have no idea.”
This behavior is not normal for a senator. Reporters often wait at approved “stakeouts” for senators to pass by and briskly flag down a relevant lawmaker for a few questions. Most of the senators seem to enjoy it this, as communicating with the media is a key part of their job.