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Networks Swoon for Hillary’s ‘Indignation’ and ‘Tears,’ Champion ‘Riveting’ Testimony from ‘Political Pro’

Mark January 23rd as the launch date for the news media’s fresh campaign to have Hillary Clinton replace Barack Obama in the Oval Office in 2017. ABC and NBC, and CBS to a lesser extent, on Wednesday night treated Secretary of State Clinton’s appearances before Senate and House committees not as an chance to explore Obama administration dissembling on Benghazi, but as an opportunity to boost Clinton’s supposed brilliant performance.

“The indignation. And then, the tears in her eyes,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer announced before trumpeting: “It was a valedictory that showed her indignation and emotion as she ends this tenure on the public stage. ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent, Martha Raddatz, brings us the riveting encounter today.”  

An impressed Raddatz exclaimed: “What a way to end her four-year tenure as Secretary of State,” recalling how “a  month ago, she was flat on her back with a nasty concussion,” but “today, this woman who has traveled the world as America’s top diplomat, came to the Hill ready for a fight.”

Raddatz touted: “It was a riveting drama. Secretary of State Clinton seen in rare public form, at times angry, aggressively on the defense. At another point, choking up over her four lost colleagues.”

Audio: MP3 clip

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams opened his newscasts by reciting Hillary Clinton’s achievements and popularity:

After four years in office, roughly a million miles flown, 112 nations visited, in the past few weeks alone, she has fought illness and injury, including hospitalization. She leaves her post as the most admired woman in the world in the Gallup poll, for the 11th year in a row. Well today, Hillary Clinton was under fire, and at times fired back.

Reporter Andrea Mitchell soon celebrated Clinton’s success: “Parrying hostile questions all day, Clinton was also the political pro. Massaging big egos, sidestepping attacks when she could. When she couldn’t, giving as good as she got.”

With “Last Stand” on screen, here’s how Sawyer framed the day in her World News tease:

SAWYER: Last stand. Secretary Hillary Clinton, filled with fiery emotion in her last appearance before Congress.

HILLARY CLINTON: What difference at this point does it make?

SAWYER: The indignation. And then, the tears in her eyes.

CLINTON: I put my arms around the mothers and fathers and the wives left alone to raise their children.

Partial transcript of the January 23 World News coverage:

DIANE SAWYER: And now, we turn to the fiery appearance for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying before Congress on the tragedy in Benghazi. It was a valedictory that showed her indignation and emotion as she ends this tenure on the public stage. ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz brings us the riveting encounter today. Martha?

MARTHA RADDATZ: Diane, what a way to end her four-year tenure as Secretary of State. A month ago, she was flat on her back with a nasty concussion, prompting accusations she was trying to avoid testifying about Benghazi. But today, this woman who has traveled the world as America's top diplomat, came to the Hill ready for a fight. It was a riveting drama. Secretary of State Clinton seen in rare public form, at times angry, aggressively on the defense. At another point, choking up over her four lost colleagues.

HILLARY CLINTON: For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carries those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children.

SENATOR JOHN McCAIN: The American people and the families of these four brave Americans still have not gotten the answers that they deserve. I hope that they will get them.

RADDATZ: And the Secretary did not hesitate to shoulder the blame. The buck, she said, stopped with her.

CLINTON: As I have said many times, I take responsibility and nobody is more committed to getting this right.

RADDATZ: But she insisted she never saw any of the requests for more security in the run-up to the attack.

CLINTON: They didn’t come to me, I didn’t approve them, I didn’t deny them.

RADDATZ: That made Republican Senators pounce.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Had I been President at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relived you of your post.

RADDATZ: Clinton fired back in anger when Senator Ron Johnson pushed her about statements by UN Ambassador Susan Rice, made on TV, in the days after the attacks...

NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. Over one long epic day with a camera aimed at her at all times, she sat for hours before not one, but two, congressional committees answering questions, some of them heated, about what happened and why in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th of last year that resulted in the death of our U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans. Today’s testimony will likely be the last for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. After four years in office, roughly a million miles flown, 112 nations visited, in the past few weeks alone, she has fought illness and injury, including hospitalization. She leaves her post as the most admired woman in the world in the Gallup poll, for the 11th year in a row. Well today, Hillary Clinton was under fire, and at times fired back. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in our Washington newsroom with the story tonight. Andrea, good evening.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian. This was Hillary Clinton’s final testimony to Congress. First in the Senate, then in the House. It was not the way she wanted to end this chapter of her career. Four months after the Benghazi attack, committees in both chambers wanted to know what did she know and when did she know it? After a fall, a concussion and a blood clot, Hillary Clinton showed rare public emotion, reflecting the toll Benghazi has taken on her....

Parrying hostile questions all day, Clinton was also the political pro. Massaging big egos, sidestepping attacks when she could. When she couldn’t, giving as good as she got.

SENATOR JOHNSON: We were misled there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that. And that was easily ascertained that was not the fact. the American people could have known that within days and they didn't know that.

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they would go kill some Americans? What difference -- at this point -- does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.

....

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.