Hillary Clinton has less than 100 days to show the country why she, rather than Donald Trump, should be the next president. It’s time she started acting like the president she wants to become.
The first thing she can do is stop hiding from the news media. It’s been months since she has held a formal news conference, and even the relative handful of impromptu chats with campaign reporters she’s had this year have tended to last less than five minutes.
Surely, she doesn’t plan to conduct herself as president, should be elected, in such an aloof manner? So why do so now? Voters have every reason to hear how she would respond to questions, present new ideas, and show that she gets the fact that all politicians, even presidents, are accountable to the voters.
The media is far from perfect, but it remains among this nation’s best and most important bulwarks against tyranny. Its work certainly goes beyond participating in presidential — and candidate — news conferences, which are often overly deferential and sometimes manipulated.
News conferences act as a reminder that no matter how high the office, in this country, the official is accountable to the pesky impertinence of a free press.
But they are far more than mere ritual. News conferences – and any prolonged give and take with a free press – expose their subjects to the risk of being asked question they can’t avoid and whose answers cannot be spun. They subject the day’s pronouncements to a degree of in-person rigor that is otherwise entirely missing from the campaigns. And they act as a reminder that no matter how high the office, in this country, the official is accountable to the pesky impertinence of a free press.
Clinton has been able to get away with stiffing the media for months. Maybe she'll get away with it for another three months. But we hope not. It’s a sad way of modeling the behavior she'll use in the White House, should she be elected. Voters should and will take note.
But there’s another reason, too, why Clinton should both schedule a handful of news conferences and expand her engagement with the media after her campaign. Trump has engaged regularly with the media, and as a result has dominated that coverage of the campaigns. This no doubt is partly the fault of the media itself, but Clinton can hardly complain about being overlooked when she refused to engage in the first place.
Clinton has the opportunity to change that narrative by injecting her own ideas and voice into the coverage. Voters, and the media that works on their behalf, want to see her off script and spontaneous.