By: Joe Strupp
During an appearance at the Capital Conference joint media convention in Washington D.C., Sen. Hillary Clinton on Tuesday praised newspapers, joked about her underdog status, and reminded editors and publishers in attendance that she recently signed on to co-sponsor the Federal Shield Law bill.
?To ensure whistle-blowers that they can blow the whistle,? Clinton said during her speech before the combined ASNE/NAA/NEXPO audience at the Washington Convention Center. ?The Bush Administration has conducted illegal activities and stonewalled Congressional efforts to open information about them. When I am president, I will empower the federal government to operate with openness.?
In introducing Clinton, ASNE President Gilbert Bailon offered one way in which the seated editors would have something in common with Clinton: ?We do have experience answering the phone at 3 a.m. We used to like to say, ?stop the press.? Now we shout, ?Do we have it on the Web yet??
After being introduced to the playing of John Mellencamp?s ?Our Country,? Clinton responded to Bailon?s introduction by saying, ?it has given me an idea of who I can choose as a running mate ? who can answer the phone at 3 a.m.??
Clinton then quickly joked: ?This speech is entirely off the record,? to laughter and applause. But, she added, ?you know those days are long gone. Times have changed.? In a clear reference to her current catch-up mode against Obama, Clinton added, ?I want to thank newspaper editors, particularly, for one of my favorite headlines of all time: ?Dewey Beats Truman!? — which I have recalled in recent months.?
She had the reference to the famous 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune headline slightly off. It is, of course, ?Dewey Defeats Truman.?
Clinton?s comments on the shield law came moments after Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), one of the leaders of the bill, told the audience that both Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama had signed on as co-sponsors. Sen. John McCain told the group on Monday that he, too, was supporting the Free Flow of Information Act.
Further describing her plans as president to open up government, Clinton later said, ?we will release Justice Department interpretations so you know exactly how laws are being interpreted.?
Playing to her audience, Clinton then thanked those who had been working to cover her campaign, ?some who have literally been on my campaign from the first few days.? Praising the world of newspapers, she added, ?it is a mission that predates our country. It is essential that we have you to inform an active citizenry.?
After noting the danger journalists have faced overseas, even citing the past death of The Wall Street Journal?s Daniel Pearl, Clinton praised recent investigative efforts such as The Washington Post?s Walter Reed Army Hospital expose that won a Pulitzer Prize last week: ?There are many stories that have made a difference.?
The majority of her speech, and several questions she took afterward, focused on non-journalistic issues of Iran, health care, and Bush’s problematic policies.
During his appearance before Clinton spoke, Pence, who along with the shield law co-sponsor Rep. Rick Boucher ( D-Va. ) received an NAA award, urged those in attendance to pressure the Senate for a vote on the bill, which has already received House approval.
?I believe that there is a bi-partisan majority in the House and the Senate that will ensure passage of this measure,? Pence said. ?But we need a vote. I heartily challenge each one of you today to leave this place and let the United States Senate know how important this measure is.?