Clinton's NPR interview on gay marriage: The facts

My opinion: Hillary Clinton's responses to Terry Gross in her NPR interview on the issue of gay marriage were not the subjective terms used by reporters, such as "testy," "contentious" and "annoyed," but — equally subjective — firm and polite. (Another opinion, having listened to the interview several times: Had it been a man, the words "testy" and "annoyed" would not have been used.)

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While subjective impressions can reasonably differ, the facts and words in the interview speak for themselves.  

Here are the relevant excerpts from the interview — I have highlighted key words in the Qs and As.  

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Q1: GROSS: What's it like when you're in office and you have to do all these political calculations to not be able to support something like gay marriage that you actually believe in ... correct me if I'm reading it wrong.

A1: CLINTON: Well, I think you're reading it very wrong. I think that, as I said, just as the president has said, you know, just because you're a politician, doesn't mean you're not a thinking human being ... you're constantly reevaluating where you stand. That was true for me.

 

Q.2: GROSS: So just to clarify — just one more question on this — would you say your view evolved since the '90s or that the American public evolved allowing you to state your real view?

A.2: CLINTON: I think I'm an American. (laughing) And I think we have all evolved and it's been one of the fastest most sweeping transformations.

 

Q.3: GROSS: I'm pretty sure you didn't answer my question about whether you evolved or it was the American public that changed (laughing).

[Comment: "Didn't answer my question"? See A. 2: "We have all evolved."

A.3: CLINTON: I said I'm an American, so of we all evolved. And I think that that's a fair, you know, that's a fair conclusion.

 

Q.4: GROSS: So you're saying your opinion on gay marriage changed as opposed to you - you just felt it was comfortable...

[Isn't this a repeat?  She just said "we have all evolved."]

A.5: CLINTON: You know, somebody is always first, Terry. ... You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across our country if nobody changed their mind. And thank goodness so many of us have.

 

Q.6: GROSS: So that's one for you changed your mind? (laughing).

[Comment: Didn't Clinton just say "us" referring to "changed their mind"?]

Q.6: CLINTON: You know, I really — I have to say, I think you are very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.

GROSS: I am just trying to clarify so I can understand.

CLINTON: No, I don't think you are trying to clarify. I think you're trying to say that, you know, I used to be opposed and now I'm in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that's just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am proud of what I've done and the progress we're making.

 

Q.7: GROSS: You know, I'm just saying — I'm sorry — I just want to clarify what I was saying — no, I was saying that you maybe really believed this all along, but — you know, believed in gay marriage all along, but felt for political reasons America wasn't ready yet and you couldn't say it. That's what I was thinking.

A.7: CLINTON: No. No, that is not true.

GROSS: OK.

[Comment: Finally! Gross accepted Clinton's answers after repeated five times before.]

CLINTON: I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don't think you probably did either. This was an incredibly new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly but surely convinced others of the rightness of that position. And when I was ready to say what I said, I said it.

GROSS: OK, thank you for clarifying that.

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You decide whether Hillary Clinton was asked and answered the same question many times. 

 

Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and is executive vice president of the strategic communications firm, Levick. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life.