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Clinton sounds paranoid, TV-false in strong CNN interview

Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik critiques Hillary Clinton's CNN interview.

Give Hillary Clinton some points for finally agreeing to a one-on-one sitdown interview. But if her performance today with CNN's Brianna Keilar is any indication, it's easy to see why she held off on this TV format as long as she could.

Once Clinton realized that Keilar came prepared and wasn't going to be backed off of asking hard questions, she fell into two familiar TV personas: paranoid and falsely TV-nice. Richard Nixon meets Selina Meyer, of "Veep." Neither is a winning ticket. Together they are toxic.

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The paranoid part was the most surprising to me this early in the campaign. She stopped just short of revisiting her "vast right-wing conspiracy" talk when Keilar started asking about the polls that showed voters found her lacking in honesty and trustworthiness.

I counted four different ways that Keilar asked the questions on this issue, giving Clinton multiple chances to take some of the blame for those findings, but the candidate wouldn't come close.

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Instead, she blamed those findings on her being "subjected to constant attacks fomented by the right."

She also used the words "onslaught" and "barrage" to describe the attacks "used again and again against me and my husband for many, many years."

Clinton caught herself before she totally entered Nixon Country. But it surprised me that Keilar was able to get her there this fast.

Keilar asked many of the right questions in addition to the ones connected to trust and honesty issues. She asked about the strange way Clinton handled her emails as secretary of state. She asked about the surge and popularity of Bernie Sanders.

She used the word "organic" to describe the support for Sanders, which was one of the deft, little verbal jabs the interviewer used to get Clinton out of her serene, I-am-queen-of-the-world face, which she has been wearing through most of Iowa and New Hampshire.

As for the TV-nice-phony-sounding quotes, this one came near the end of the interview: "I'm just going to be my own little self ... I'm not looking for ratings. I'm looking for votes."

And there is this quote connected with Sanders' candidacy that came near the start: "What's great about America is anybody can run for president. That's literally true!"

Really?

On second thought, maybe that's her way of saying Sanders is a nobody. But the surprised affect of "that's literally true" is perfect Selina Meyer. And that's not a good thing given Selina's duplicity and tendency to talk phony-sweet to voters while mocking them once she's off-camera.

I think we got a glimpse behind the curtain of the "new Hillary" in this interview. And, guess what? It does not seem any newer than the "new" Nixon did.

See the CNN interview here.

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