In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Karen Finney, the senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, spent the entire time talking over host Chris Wallace and deflecting easy questions that she should have been fully prepared to answer. The former MSNBC host and Media Matters “senior fellow” could not provide a specific answers when pressed by Wallace on Clinton’s huge speech fees, the Trans-Pacific Partnership or her avoidance of the press. Considering that she was going on enemy territory by appearing on Fox News, you’d think Finney would have been ready for these queries. But, nope.
Early on in their conversation, Finney tried to pivot away from Wallace’s inquiry into whether or not Mrs. Clinton supported giving President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals. Finney tried to run from the question as it appears that she doesn’t know what Clinton’s position is on the TPP at this time. So she tried to squirm her way out by doing a lot of hemming and hawing.
WALLACE: Does Hillary Clinton think that House Democrats this week in the next few days should vote with the president or against him?
FINNEY: Well, I haven’t spoken to her about the deal obviously since what’s happened Friday and what’s going to happen next week. But, again, you know, this is someone who has voted for trade agreements when she thought they were good for the country, and against trade agreements when she thought they were bad for the country.
And I would just say, Chris — I mean, there has been maneuvering back and forth about the pieces of the agreement. So, again, she’s looking —
WALLACE: I’m not talking about the agreement. I’m talking —
FINNEY: I under —
WALLACE: Forgive me. I’m talking about giving President Obama the same fast track authority that Bill Clinton had on NAFTA. Why would she possibly be against that?
FINNEY: Well, we’re talking about it in the context of this agreement, right?
WALLACE: No. No.
FINNEY: We are talking about it in the context of an underlying agreement.
WALLACE: We’re talking about in the context of how to negotiate a deal and give it to Congress. Why can’t she say whether or not she’s for or against it?
FINNEY: But I think you may hear — again, we’re going to talk about a lot of issues. I think you may hear her talk about it sooner rather than later. I’m going to let her be the person to speak about that.
WALLACE: But there’s a vote this week in Congress, doesn’t she have to weigh in pretty quickly? Because if there’s no fast track trade authority, the president can’t make the deal.
FINNEY: Well, we’ll see, won’t we? We’ll see if they decides that she wants to go ahead and, you know, tell us what she wants to say about it.
WALLACE: But one of — as one of her senior advisers, you can’t say whether or not she’s going to weigh in on fast track trade authority?
FINNEY: As one of her senior advisers, I think it’s my job to let her be the person making the news in her campaign or let her be the person saying where she is on an issue and I’m telling you sort of the broader perspective that she has sort of — and again, I do think it’s important. I mean, you are talking about sort of fast track, but again, the way this has — the political element of this played out over the last several months, you know, we had had a lot of —
WALLACE: I’m talking about one thing.
FINNEY: I understand that, I understand that.
WALLACE: OK, let me —
FINNEY: I’m going to let my candidate speak to that.
WALLACE: Fair enough.
That is fucking painful. Seriously.
After that little interlude, Finney and Wallace moved on to talking about Clinton’s positions on certain policy issues. One issue that Clinton spoke about in her stump speech on Saturday was income inequality. Wallace pounced on Finney with a gotcha question regarding Clinton’s $250,000 speech fees that Finney, a veteran of media and politics, should have seen coming a mile away. However, she just reached into her politico word salad dispenser and tossed out some inane ramblings about “humble beginnings” and Clinton being a champion of the people and other prattle. She even threw in an “at the end of the day,” just for good measure.
Below is video of the interaction:
The interview drunkenly stumbled to its finish when Wallace tried to get Finney to provide a response on why Clinton hasn’t sat down for any interviews or delivered any press conferences. Once more, it was avoidance and double-talk from Finney. She eventually stated that Clinton will be sitting down for news interviews in the very near future. However, when pushed by Wallace to provide a legit reason why other candidates have spoken with the media and Clinton hasn’t, Finney gave this little nugget of wisdom:
“Well, they’ve got to do their campaign the way they’re going to do their campaign and we’re going to do our campaign the way we believe we’ve got to to win this — win this in these four early states, to make sure that were focused on organizing and telling Hillary’s story and winning the four early states and hopefully winning the primary and then winning the election.”
Ugh. Below is video, courtesy of Mediaite, showing this portion of the interview:
IF you are a spokesperson for a Democratic policial candidate, especially one as reviled by the right and its propaganda machine as Hillary Clinton is, then you cannot go on Fox News, of all places, and absolutely blow an interview like that. Sure, Hillary’s voters likely weren’t watching anyway. But that doesn’t matter. It is the reaction that will take hold. And the reaction to Finney’s performance has not been kind.
It might be best if Finney just puts her tail between her legs and slinks back to MSNBC to provide commentary on Chris Hayes’s show or something. Having her serve as Hillary’s chief spox is not going to end pretty.