If Brian Williams’ disclosure that he was not aboard a helicopter that came under fire in Iraq in 2003 results in his resignation from NBC News then what will happen to Hillary Clinton’s likely 2016 White House bid? If Williams can no longer be the face of NBC then can Hillary no longer be the face of the Democratic Party?
You might recall that during the 2008 campaign, Hillary told a story about flying into Bosnia with daughter Chelsea in 1996 claiming, “I remember landing under sniper fire.” However, the when the former First Lady’s account was challenged she asserted, “There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened.” But a week later Hillary would recant her story claiming that she had made a “misstatement.” As PolitiFact editor Angie Drobnic Holan noted at the time:
There’s no doubt flying into Bosnia was dangerous back in 1996, but the threat of sniper fire is not the same as actual sniper fire, and hustling off the tarmac is not the same as running with your head down. Yes, Clinton later acknowledged that she was mistaken, but it’s hard to understand how she could err on something so significant as whether she did or didn’t dodge sniper bullets. Quite simply, this kind of hyperbole deserves our harshest assessment. We rule Pants on Fire.
While it’s true that Hillary Clinton did lose the Democratic primaries to Barack Obama, her political career sustained no lasting damage. After all, Obama appointed her Secretary of State and she is the unquestioned frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016. So if the story didn’t damage her in 2008 why would it in 2016?
Well, it could give Elizabeth Warren’s supporters an opening. Despite Warren recently stating she would not run in 2016, this did not prevent her supporters from opening a campaign office in New Hampshire a couple of days ago. If Williams resigns because of this then people will invariably revive the Hillary sniper fire story and the people who stand the most to gain from that are Warren supporters. Of course, they’d have to play it carefully. If Warren’s folks talk about the Hillary sniper story then Hillary’s folks can always bring up Fauxacahontas. That would be a fun fight to watch.
Then again all of this assumes that anyone actually cares. When Warren pulled even with Scott Brown during the 2012 Massachusetts Senate campaign I wrote, “If voters in Connecticut didn’t care about Richard Blumenthal misrepresenting his military service, is it really a stretch to imagine that Massachusetts voters won’t care if Elizabeth Warren lied about being Native American to advance her career?” Well, we all know happened in the Bay State that November.
If misspeaking about being under RPG fire in Iraq ends Brian Williams TV career, but misspeaking about being under sniper fire in Bosnia is but a footnote in Hillary Clinton’s political career then I think the public, as much as they might distrust it, hold the media to a higher standard than they do politicians.