Hillary Clinton criticizes Terry Gross for being ‘persistent’

BuzzFeed | Politico | National Journal

You know I really, I have to say, I think you’re being very persistent,” Hillary Clinton said to Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” Thursday. The NPR show’s host was trying to pin Clinton down on her changing positions on gay marriage, something that Clinton apparently didn’t enjoy. “I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons,” she told Gross.

The exchange was “taped by America Rising, a Republican research group that’s spent the majority of its time focused on Clinton,” Maggie Haberman and Katie Glueck report in Politico.

Clinton discussed her new book in New York Thursday (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Gross’ tenacity during this exchange is remarkable in American political journalism. The host is “famous for her laborious research that often involves lugging boxes of books home” and “regularly puts her subjects’ entire lives on the table, moving far beyond whatever they happen to be there to promote,” Alex Seitz-Wald writes in National Journal. She’s “more likely to open a line of questioning her subjects are not expecting and then push them with impunity, since she doesn’t have to be too concerned about alienating those close to her subjects.”

Here’s Clinton’s position on gay marriage in 2000, courtesy Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post: “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.”

Her change on the issue reflects a broader shift nationally: As Pew reported in March, 2011 was the first year a higher percentage of Americans said they favored gay marriage than opposed it.

Related: Former NPR ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin discusses Terry Gross’ 2003 interview with Bill O’Reilly, which he walked out of | A transcript of Gross’ interview with Gene Simmons

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  • Ginny

    Jeeezz I am sorry I brought this up. I would be happy to “admit” that
    I am wrong about Terry being GAY but the truth is what is “right” and
    now that I have read the NYT article I think Terry is leaving it up to
    us with her non-denial denials – maybe because she is driving the point
    that it doesn’t matter —- which is REALLY my point to begin with –
    Terry’s AGENDA. She wanted to rub Hillary’s nose into the fact that
    Hillary wasn’t a leader on this issue and FABULOUS TERRY WAS! YOU ARE
    MORE FABULOUS BY HALF TERRY!! YOUR point is made and your devotees are
    all over this! Be happy in your kingdom of feeling superior folks because THAT is certainly how progress is made. go ahead and shit all
    over your friends. Oh except incog99- I don’t think Hillary is your friend.

  • Ginny

    Jeeezz I am sorry I brought this up. I would be happy to “admitt” that I am wrong about Terry being GAY but the truth is what is “right” and now that I have read the NYT article I think Terry is leaving it up to us with her non-denial denials – maybe because she is driving the point that it doesn’t matter —- which is REALLY my point to begin with – Terry’s AGENDA. She wanted to rub Hillary’s nose into the fact that Hillary wasn’t a leader on this issue and FABULOUS TERRY WAS! YOU ARE MORE FABULOUS BY HALF TERRY!! YOUR point is made and your devotees are all over this! Be happy in your kindom of feeling superior folks becuase THAT is certainly how progress is made. go ahead and shit all over your friends.

  • Suffering Saint

    True !

  • SpotOn_SpotOff

    I will not support Hillary, or the R opponent – though I am doubting that she will make it to the ticket, anyway. Both parties are nothing more than puppets to the elite – it’s time to give them the boot and cut off our gov’t from the controlling wealthy class.

  • SpotOn_SpotOff

    Why is gay marriage a political issue? It shouldn’t be.

  • deliaruhe

    I’m not a big fan of Hillary, but the question seems pretty stupid. Gay marriage, for better or worse, is a political issue, and many politicians timed their support for it.

    What does it matter now, anyway? She’s for it.

  • puma_for_life

    Why is her position any different than Obama’s? He shifted his position in time for the 2012 election.

  • http://explainingindia.blogspot.in/ Sachi Mohanty

    What to expect from a woman who claims the “Bible” is the one book that has influenced her the most.

  • Paul Ditz

    I wish she would have been a little more tenacious just before this exchange when Hillary was spouting off lie after vicious lie about Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

  • catfashionshow

    It was absolutely bizarre at the end of the exchange when Hillary was vehemently and proudly asserted that she absolutely opposed gay marriage until two years ago.

  • keeinca

    Hilary is absolutely right on when she said she never even imagined that gay marriage would be an issue when she was growing up, and neither did Terry. And neither did you or I. Hilary has always stood on the right side of gay rights (imo) and people do change their opinions and stands on issues as they evolve. At one time I, just like Hilary, thought civil unions were an adequate solution. Now I wholeheartedly believe in gay marriage because it is the only answer that truly is equal.

  • Margaret Manzi

    I am so glad Ms. Gross did not fawn over the untrustworthy Mme. Clinton the way most “journalists” do.

  • WeenieHolder

    We can only hope Democrats are dumb enough to nominate this incompetent huckster for president.

  • tmiker

    Terry Gross was ridiculous. Most people in this country grow up, whether we like it or not, influenced by the values of one religion or another. I was raised Catholic. No doubt readers are familiar with the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality which reflects the thinking of most religions in this country, or for that matter those around the world. As you grow up and hopefully away from the more bigoted and nonsensical beliefs forced on you as a child you evolve and change – at least thinking people do. Apparently Terry Gross had fully formed opinions on all questions in life by the time she was 5. Gross conducted herself like the self serving ass she is. My opinion of her too has evolved.

  • http://aremi.me/ Caspar Aremi

    I just listened to the podcast when I spotted this article. I applaud Gross – Clinton DID avoid the specific question she was being asked! It wasn’t even a complicated one. Did she change her mind over the issue, or did she always support it but felt unable to say so in public due to the political climate. I still don’t think she answered it by the time they moved on.

  • sdsu73

    “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.” If this goes back to the beginning of time then man has known what was right and wrong for a long, long time. Moral absolutes do not change but societies do devolve… aka Rome, Greece, Babylon. Open acceptance and practice of homosexuality has always been one of the mileposts on a society’s path to oblivion. Note: this wasn’t a claim that it was the cause of oblivion.

    “America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.” – Josef Stalin

  • shacoca

    Once she got around to answering the question, Hilary was straightforward and honest. Her feelings are nothing she should be ashamed of or afraid to voice. If she had skipped the initial campaign bullshit, there would’ve been no reason for Terry to persist.

    If Hilary has such a hard time with this kind of questioning, she’s got a long campaign ahead of her.

  • incog99

    Look at Hillary, she’s married to a man too.

  • giantslor

    You must not have heard the Bill O’Reilly interview.

  • audacityscape

    That’s exactly the problem, Terry asked Hillary flat out if this was the case, that she was always in favor of gay marriage but couldn’t say for political reasons, and Hillary couldn’t admit that for whatever reason. It felt like she was afraid doing so would make people think she was pandering to them while she was in office, or something, and she’s most certainly going to need their votes in 2016.

  • audacityscape

    Agree to disagree. I was listening to this in the car tonight and more than once groaned at Hillary. She not only gave a very “campaign trail” answer, but then she actually accused Terry of suggesting something different than what Terry was clearly suggesting (that Hillary was only in favor of gay marriage for political gain). As I said, I will vote for her if she is the democratic nominee, because I think she’s quite capable, but this interview felt like it was someone who was already beginning her campaign.

  • audacityscape

    LOL, yes I know plenty of gay women. It’s the response of someone who doesn’t care what people think about her sexuality. If she was a lesbian, she’d be with a woman, period. She doesn’t strike me as someone who feels the need to be closeted, and the “agenda” she drives, is one of equality. That’s all the “gay agenda” is. The same as the “black agenda” and the “female agenda”.

  • Ginny

    Do you know any gay women? Because it really isn’t soley determeined by being married to a man. I don’t see her self identifying as a straight woman anywhere. She just says she thinks it is “hysterical?” that people think she is gay. What kind of response is that? I don’t really feel the need to be “right” about her sex preferences because I really thought/think she was/is gay but my point is that she drives the gay political agenda in her interviews and always has. I don’t see the point in her driving an agenda in her self-identified position as a intelligent, fair interviewer. Seriously, she has let herself get taken up with herself. You can see this is pretty much ALL she does. She doesn’t even water her plants. What more do we need to know? ;-}

  • LoveCoates

    I might or might not vote for Hillary in 2016 — it depends on whether or not she puts forth a positive vision to move America forward in the 21st century in terms of freedom, equality, and opportunity.for all. I will not vote simply for a cult of personality; the policy has to be there.

    But her answer was an answer. She said that she had evolved on the issue, that the American public had too, that she regrets that she was not out front on it like others were. What more do you and Terry Gross want? An exact date? An annotated timeline of her position on gay marriage year-by-year?

    Terry tried to make it a zero sum game: “either you changed your mind or the American public did” which is a ridiculous question because the answer is both. Terry didn’t like the answer. She got her butt rhetorically handed to her. Good for Hillary.

    Hillary said in the Sawyer interview the other night that she is too old to play the let’s please and placate everybody game. I hope she continues to lay the smackdown on obnoxious reporters and I hope the Republican candidates do too. Ask a question, get an answer, and more on. Ain’t nobody got time for this gotcha crap anymore.

  • audacityscape

    She’s married to a man… So you can “believe” whatever you want, but she clearly identifies as heterosexual.

  • audacityscape

    She’s absolutely married to a man: Francis Davis. Jesus, it’s not difficult to Google.

  • audacityscape

    Look, I’m voting for Hillary if she runs in 2016, but she refused to answer the question here. It was a campaign answer, and Terry saw right through it. Good for Terry.

  • joseph peterson

    i was really excited to get jazzed about terry gross’s approach, as applauded in this article, but alas, I felt she was being petulant, not persistent. Once again, I fail to see how great Terry Gross is that everyone else seems to worship.

  • BumpIt McCarthy

    Nope. The Times published a weirdly sexist (or maybe par for the course ;->)interview by Andrew Goldman where he asked her why she chose radio over children and what about the lesbian rumors. She related the story of having some woman at a party tell her mother-in-law that she knew Terry Gross was a lesbian, which she found amusing.

    It doesn’t make any difference except when she is being accused of having some agenda because of her sexuality.

    Her interviews are unusual not only for their depth, but because the interviewee generally relaxes and opens up. The only other strangely hostile interview she did was with Gene Simmons, so that is some exclusive club Hillary’s joined.

  • BlissBunny

    Listen to her interview with John Doe and also with Keith Richards. She was flirting with them and they with her, and they were loving it. Also, in an interview with the NYT, she talked about being frequently mistaken for a lesbian, but nope – she’s married to a guy.

  • Ginny

    Just that she (terry gross) as an NPR interviewer is driving an agenda. But yes you are right.. It doesn’t matter – either way she drives that agenda hard. I’d just rather she got it “right.”

  • Erik

    I’m a Hillary supporter, but I think ALL politicians should be subjected to this level of questionings, especially when they’re trying to squirm off the hook.

  • Kathy Noonan

    Hillary answered the question; most people were NOT always for gay marriage. Obviously Gross was and didn’t like the answer. We should start a lottery on what the “gotcha” question will be in upcoming interviews.

  • incog99

    “What difference does it make?”

  • keeinca

    No she is not.

  • incog99

    What’s up with that happy weird voice Hillary speaks in when she is trying to obfuscate? It’s truly bizarre.

  • Ginny

    I don’t think people listen to the plain meaning of things. Hillary Clinton was always for Gay marriage. She said she was for civil unions for political reasons and because gay folks finally turned the political tide in their favor Hillary could come out behind her political problem that it was too unpopular to people of religions to be for gay marriage. Gay men lovingly took care of her father to his death. Terry was playing it upside down to embarrass Hillary. Go ahead and drive your agenda but at LEAST get it straight. Poorly done terry Gross.

  • Ginny

    I believe she is gay and I have been listenimg to her forever. She doesn’t deny it.:
    “I always thought it was hysterical. There’s a website that’s called NNDB. It’s a biographical website and they include gender, religion, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation and radio personality. So, under [Terry Gross’] sexual orientation it says, “matter of dispute.” As if there’s a panel of rabbis, scholars, and other learned individuals who are sitting around studying the great texts and debating with each other what my sexual orientation is.

  • karlatonella

    The headline is misleading and not quite fair. Clinton did say Gross was being persistent but her criticism was that she felt Gross was trying to make her say what she was not, and did not want to say. But kudos to Terry Gross for her persistence! It is not rude to try to get an answer from people skilled, or not, at not answering a direct and fair question. Too many journalists let people get away with not answering — especially when the person being interviewed uses their answer time to soapbox instead. An interviewee always has the option of saying they don’t want to answer, with or without a reason why.

  • abeaujon

    Yeah she’s not gay. From this interview: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/magazine/can-fresh-air-kill-plants.html?_r=0 “The spouse of a recipient went up to my late mother-in-law and said: ‘That’s Terry Gross. Did you know she’s a lesbian?’ She just thought that was hysterical.”

  • Aaron Hale

    Terry Gross is married… to a man.

  • Ginny

    Terry Gross is a gay woman who wanted to drive her I-am-a lesbian point by ridiculing Hillary’s answer. That is NOT the NPR way, it is Terry power tripping on her little throne.

    Face what you already know, Terry, gay people have been able to turn “their boat” around politically ONLY recently and your chance to ridicule people who are on your side doesn’t do you any good – beyond making you feel superior. That makes you kind of a bitch, Terry! And I mean that in the nicest of ways. From one bitch to the next – hope it made you feel good, jerk.

  • LoveCoates

    Would you like some cheese to go along with all of that whine?

    Hillary answered the question — Gross kept asking which is obnoxious. How many different ways can someone say “I evolved over time and eventually changed my mind.”? There are rabid Hillary haters on left and right, and nothing will change their minds because nothing can change the mind of a hateful extremist.

    Fortunately, the reasonable mainstream majority of the country that does not see politics as a zero sum game and approves of Hillary Clinton will decide the election. Bravo to Hillary for unapologetically smacking down the partisan parlor games of extremists that voters are sick of.

  • anchorofreality

    How dare a journalist question Queen Hillary! Terry Gross will clearly be drummed out of the press corps for daring to attempt to pin down the ever-shifting and evasive and strategically-advantageous Hillary. No one dares ask a follow-up question to a Clinton. And Hillary is notoriously known for her hatred of the adoring mainstream media, not to mention a journalist that actually does their job and not simply swallow the B.S. Hillary is peddling in her pandering. Bravo to Terry Gross. I wish there were more journalists like her. –A. Reality