Politico's Ben Smith claimed that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "chok[ed] up in a Portsmouth coffee shop, in response to a question about her hair." But Smith did not report that the question was about more than just Clinton's hair; as video of a portion of the exchange makes clear, the questioner also asked Clinton: "And my question is very personal, how do you do it? How do you, how do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?"
In a January 9 Politico article, Politico senior political writer Ben Smith claimed that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "chok[ed] up in a Portsmouth coffee shop, in response to a question about her hair." The article followed a January 7 blog post by Smith in which he reported that Clinton's emotional moment came in response to an "innocuous" question. In the January 7 post, Smith wrote: " 'As a woman, I know it's hard to get out of the house and get ready,' said Marianne Pernold [Young], a local freelance photographer. 'Who does your hair?' " Media reports indicate that Pernold Young did ask about Clinton's hair, and Clinton appeared to address the issue in her reply, but Smith did not report that the question was about more than just Clinton's hair. As video of part of the exchange makes clear, Pernold Young also asked Clinton: "And my question is very personal, how do you do it? How do you, how do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?"
From a video that includes part of Pernold Young's question during the January 7 campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:
PERNOLD YOUNG: And my question is very personal, how do you do it?
PERNOLD YOUNG: How do you, how do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?
CLINTON: You know, I think --
CLINTON: Well, luckily, on special days I do have help. If you see me every day, and you know, look on some of the websites and listen to some of the commentators, they always find me on the day I didn't have help.
It's not easy, it's not easy. And I couldn't do it if I just didn't, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards, you know? So.
You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who's up or who's down. It's about our country, and it's about our kids' futures. And it's really about all of us, together. You know, some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country.
But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready, and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one, and some of us haven't really thought that through enough. And so, when we look at the array of problems we have, and the potential for it getting -- really spinning out of control, this is one of the most important elections America's ever faced.
So, as tired as I am -- and I am -- and as difficult as it is to kind of keep up what I try to do on the road, like occasionally exercise and try to eat right -- it's tough when the easiest food is pizza -- I just believe so strongly in who we are as a nation. So I'm going to do everything I can to make my case, and, you know, then the voters get to decide. Thank you all.
As Media Matters for America previously noted, in his January 7 blog post, Smith misquoted Clinton's response to Pernold Young's question, reporting that Clinton said, "I have so many opportunities for this country. I don't want to see us all fall back," when in fact Clinton said, "You know, I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don't want to see us fall backwards, you know?" -- expressing gratitude and explaining her motivations for running [emphasis added].