Media slams Donald Trump, ignores Clinton 2008 RFK gaffe
The hot topic that began at a Trump rally Tuesday is still front and center: Republican nominee Donald Trump says those who believe strongly in the 2nd Amendment could help prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency.
Since then the interpretations of what Trump exactly meant by that remark have dominated cable news and political media: Was he actually ordering her assassination, as even some lawmakers have said? Or was he simply mobilizing efforts of passionate gun owners to unify and get out to the polls to defeat Clinton in November?
Team Trump says the latter: It was simply a rallying cry to defeat Clinton. House Speaker Paul Ryan says it was just “a joke gone bad.” Democrats are basically all in lockstep on the former, seizing on the political narrative that Trump is unfit for office, even characterizing the comment as criminal.
What the media seems to be missing in laying out this story is this thing called precedent. And in this case, the precedent belongs to the 2016 Democratic nominee.
The year was 2008. The race for the Democratic nomination was against then-Senator Barack Obama.
But the problem for Clinton was that the race was essentially over in late May. Senator Obama had all but wrapped up the Democratic nomination to the point many were calling for Clinton to face the math and drop out of the race in the name of party unity.
Clinton — who was a big favorite early on to represent the party — was not even entertaining the thought.
And then she decided to say this on May 24:
“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?” she said. “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”
Easy interpretation here: “Drop out? But what if somebody decides to take out Obama? RFK also had the nomination all sewn up at this point, too…. and look what happened to him. We need to keep in mind that some nut job could do to Obama what another nut job did to RFK. And that’s why I’m staying despite having no real traditional path to the nomination.”
Unlike Trump, Clinton actually made this remark, one that Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina called “beyond the pale” at the time, twice.
Earlier that year in March, Clinton told Time magazine: “Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A..”
Was there 24/7 outrage on cable news over the remark? Of course not.
There were segments here and there, but nothing like the avalanche we’re seeing now. And Republicans didn’t call into question Clinton’s mental state or fitness for the office the same way Democrats and the most of the media. Nor did anyone call Clinton’s comments a criminal act.
But that isn’t stopping Democrats, Team Clinton and those who support her in the press from going all-out while ignoring what was said in 2008:
Casual reading assignment tonight: federal criminal statute on threatening to kill a candidate for President. https://t.co/db549T54lr
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 9, 2016
Donald Trump suggested someone kill Sec. Clinton. We must take people at their word. @SecretService must investigate #TrumpThreat.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) August 9, 2016
JUST IN: Clinton camp responds to Trump’s 2nd Amendment joke: pic.twitter.com/bpJ72eZEXL
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 9, 2016
Donald Trump’s reckless words could get someone killed. https://t.co/X53mYVpd54 pic.twitter.com/AYMgDnbZzA
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) August 10, 2016
Donald Trump suggests assassinating Hillary Clinton if she becomes President https://t.co/TJjJlTT0O1
— The Independent (@Independent) August 9, 2016
For more examples, just turn to a cable news network today or read almost any political media publication on the web. And while watching or reading, note the number of times the precedent in this situation is mentioned as it pertains to Hillary Clinton in 2008. You won’t need more than one hand.
Dan Rather — formerly of CBS and now a regular guest on CNN — called Trump’s remark “a new low,” unprecedented “in the history of American presidential politics.” Yup, unprecedented. Rather now works for something called Axis TV.
And Thomas Friedman of the New York Times says Trump’s children “should be ashamed of him.” Friedman never uttered those words when it comes to Chelsea Clinton in any capacity, especially in May of 2008.
Selective outrage: It’s a growing, unsettling theme in today’s media.
Did Donald Trump suggest a 2nd Amendment advocate take out his competition?
Depends on who you ask and what the agenda is.
Bigger question nobody appears to be asking:
Did Hillary Clinton suggest — twice — that she should have stayed in the 2008 race because — like Bobby Kennedy in June — her opponent might not survive to accept the nomination?
Depends on who you ask and what the agenda is.
Will the media mention this parallel? It takes just a simple Google search of “Hillary Clinton Bobby Kennedy 2008” to read all about it.
Of course not.
Because that would take either actual effort… or objectivity.
Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.
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