As you may have read on just about any news site you’ve visited in recent days, former First Lady, Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has released a book.
With it, speculation about her potential 2016 ambitions has reached a historic fervor. And almost every news outlet has felt obligated to publish multiple stories about the book, the tour and what it all means.
That includes TPM. And, well, this is another.
The problem is, barring unexpected candor during a book signing or a sudden announcement during one of her many forthcoming media appearances, there isn’t actually much new to say. The book will be a bestseller. Hillary fans will turn out en masse for her public events. The (prospective) candidate herself will continue dipping her toe in the 2016 water without making any final decision.
So even the best reporters find themselves struggling to deliver a fresh take. Instead, coverage of Hillary’s big week is falling into three identifiable tracts.
This Looks Like A Campaign!
This was the headline (before it was changed) from America’s paper of record:
The New York Times was not alone.
The Clinton campaign got started at a Barnes & Noble in Union Square today. http://t.co/kQFRxViwXe
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) June 10, 2014
— Mashable (@mashable) June 10, 2014
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 10, 2014
“Clinton’s book tour is widely seen as a rollout for her potential 2016 presidential campaign,” noted Business Insider.
Alex Seitz-Wald at National Journal succinctly summarized the various angles of the book release and its 2016 implications:
Hillary Clinton’s much anticipated book tour is here, and it’s going to look a lot like a presidential campaign.
For a 2016-hungry media, the campaign simulacrum will be a chance to look for clues to a potential bid. For her legions of fans, it’s a chance to see the former secretary of State up close and in the flesh. But for Clinton herself, the tour promoting Hard Choices will offer something more personal: a gut check.
“What she’s going to be asking herself is, am I having fun? Am I enjoying this? Do I really want to do this again and potentially risk losing again?” said one former aide.
Book Signing Anecdotes!
National Journal reported that at least five reporters interviewed the man at the front of the line at a New York City Barnes and Noble to get his book signed by Hillary.
Politico reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted the rules for those getting a book signed:
— Maggie Haberman (@maggiepolitico) June 10, 2014
A report on which earned a Drudge Report link:
Rules for Hillary Book Signings Distributed: ‘NO Posed Photography With Author’… http://t.co/iR4uEF4PhG
— DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT) June 10, 2014
The Times reported on an 11-year-old whose mother pulled her out of school to attend the signing. “I’m not going to remember the last Tuesday toward the end of my school year, but I’ll remember this,” the young political junkie told the newspaper.
And MSNBC produced this video on the Hillary Clinton “super fans” who showed up hours early to get a prime spot in line.
But The Book Itself Kinda Sucks!
The irony is that the actual product driving all this coverage has received tepid reviews at best. Politico’s Mike Allen set the tone Monday, as he so often does:
“Hard Choices” is a newsless snore, written so carefully not to offend that it will fuel the notion that politics infuses every part of her life. In this book, like in “The Lego Movie” theme song, everyone is awesome!
“Hillary Clinton’s Book Is Being Destroyed By Critics,” Business Insider concluded, linking to Allen’s panning as well as critical reviews from the New York Times and the New Republic.
Mark Halperin, champion of horse-race journalism and co-author of the now infamous “Game Change” about the 2008 presidential campaign, laid hard into the book Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He dismissed it as “tone deaf” and “cautious mush.”
He also ripped its rollout — and accompanying gaffes — on Twitter.
GOP lacks ’16 horse, but @HillaryBook rollout so far emboldens Rs in 2 ways: RichieRich gaffe shows rust & lack of msg shows…lack of msg
— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) June 10, 2014