On the November 11 edition of CNN's Late Edition, discussing the Democratic presidential candidates, congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin asserted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) has "had a very bad few weeks" and added, "There was also the story of the tip with the waitress where she said she did leave a tip, but why get into a tiff with a working woman?" As Media Matters for America noted, a November 8 National Public Radio (NPR) report had claimed that waitress Anita Esterday did not get a tip after Clinton and her staff ate at the Iowa restaurant where Esterday works. However, a November 8 AP article reported that restaurant manager Brad Crawford said a tip was left, adding, "If something happened with the disbursement [of the tip], it's probably my fault." The New York Times reported November 9: "After NPR broadcast the report, Mrs. Clinton's campaign responded by saying the candidate and her aides had in fact left a tip: $100 on a $157 check at the diner." The Times report also noted that Crawford "confirmed" that Clinton "and her retinue had indeed left a tip, though he did not say how much."
Moreover, while Yellin did not explain what she thinks the Clinton campaign should have done differently so as to avoid what Yellin saw as "get[ting] into a tiff with a working woman," Ana Marie Cox wrote in a Nov. 9 entry on Time magazine's Swampland blog:
The most interesting thing about the Clinton did-she-leave-a-tip-or-not bruhaha yesterday was the ferocity and speed with which the Clinton campaign pushed back -- with reporters at least. One can assume that's because they know this is the kind of story, true or not, that sticks to a candidate like, uhm, an expensive hair cut.
Esterday herself said of the media response to the tip story:
"You people are really nuts," she told a reporter during a phone interview. "There's kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now -- there's better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn't get a tip."
From the November 11 edition of CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer:
BLITZER: Jessica, she did get some support -- she always does -- from Bill Clinton, the former president, who said, "You know, you can't blame Hillary Clinton for the health care debacle that occurred in the first two years of the Clinton administration." Listen to what Bill Clinton said.
BILL CLINTON [video clip]: She has taken the rap for some of the problems we had with health care last time, that were far more my fault than hers.
BLITZER: I guess on this particular issue, he's coming to her defense big time.
YELLIN: I think this is one of the ways in which Bill Clinton can actually hurt Hillary Clinton. She is the front-runner, she has to be the strong person who can take responsibility for her actions and her choices. If he's trying to shield her, it weakens her in some ways. She's had a very bad few weeks. Suzanne [Malveaux, CNN White House correspondent] is absolutely right, that she is smart to come out and state that she made a mistake and that she wasn't -- or she wasn't at her best. There was also the story of the tip with the waitress where she said she did leave a tip, but why get into a tiff with a working woman? She's not had a great few weeks. Bill Clinton shouldn't cover for her, he should let her explain herself on her own.
BLITZER: What do you think?
JOE JOHNS (CNN correspondent): Yeah, that's sort of -- you know, that's what a lot of people are saying out there. On the other hand, you look at this whole business of Obama closing the numbers and so on, and you wonder whether that's just sort of natural tightening as you get closer and closer to the primary election.