Citing "her infamy within American politics," MSNBC interviewed Tonya Harding on Clinton's alleged "Tonya Harding strategy"

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

On MSNBC Live, Tamron Hall stated: "Well, remember when there were those reports out that Hillary Clinton would use the so-called 'Tonya Harding strategy' to perhaps take out Barack Obama? Well, we're going to talk to the real Tonya Harding about her place in history and now her infamy within American politics. Yes, really, Mika." Mika Brzezinski said: "Oh, my God," later adding: "I can't believe that. It's great."

On the May 15 edition of MSNBC Live, while previewing an upcoming interview with former figure skater Tonya Harding, anchor Tamron Hall stated: "Well, remember when there were those reports out that Hillary Clinton would use the so-called 'Tonya Harding strategy' to perhaps take out Barack Obama? Well, we're going to talk to the real Tonya Harding about her place in history and now her infamy within American politics. Yes, really, Mika." MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski responded: "Oh, my God." Hall said: "That's ahead on MSNBC. No, really. Really, we are." Brzezinski added: "I can't believe that. It's great."

During the interview, Hall stated: "Obviously, big presidential race, and the 'Tonya Harding option' actually came up in the news. Reportedly that was one of the options that Senator Clinton's campaign was looking at and that they would do anything to take out Senator Barack Obama. Your name became synonymous -- or is synonymous with taking out the other person. I know you had to have heard this. What did you feel, and how do you feel when even your name comes up in a situation like politics?" Harding responded: "Well, you know what? Whatever people said, it doesn't matter. It's their opinion. But I think that there's more important issues that we need to deal with in this world and that they need to focus on the candidacy at hand and hopefully help this country." Hall pressed on, asking Harding, "But did you cringe when you heard this, though?" Harding said, "I just heard about it just a little while ago, and I just thought that it was really sad that they have to talk about me and not the problems in the world."

The assertions that there were "reports out that Hillary Clinton would use the so-called 'Tonya Harding strategy' to perhaps take out Barack Obama" and that the "Tonya Harding strategy" was reportedly "one of the options that Senator Clinton's campaign was looking at" echo the headline of a March 25 blog post by ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, which read: "Democratic Party Official: Clinton Pursuing 'The Tonya Harding Option.' " Tapper's post did not, in fact, match the headline, which suggested that a Democratic Party official claimed Clinton was "Pursuing 'The Tonya Harding Option.' " In the post, Tapper quoted an anonymous source saying of Clinton, "Her securing the nomination is certainly possible -- but it will require exercising the 'Tonya Harding option' " -- not that Clinton was actually "[p]ursuing" such a strategy. Tapper referenced his blog post during his appearance on the March 25 edition of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson. As Media Matters for America noted, numerous media figures repeated the reference -- some going so far as to assert that the purported "Tonya Harding option" was a specific strategy adopted by the Clinton campaign.

From the 9 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on May 15:

BRZEZINSKI: That does it for me this hour. I'm Mika Brzezinski. Tamron Hall is up next. Tamron.

HALL: Hi there, Mika. Well, remember when there were those reports out that Hillary Clinton would use the so-called "Tonya Harding strategy" to perhaps take out Barack Obama? Well, we're going to talk to the real Tonya Harding about her place in history and now her infamy within American politics. Yes, really, Mika.

[laughter]

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, my God.

HALL: That's ahead on MSNBC. No, really. Really, we are.

BRZEZINSKI: I can't believe that. It's great.

HALL: Well, believe it.

[laughter]

From the 12 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on May 15:

HALL: Well, she's been called the most tarnished woman in the history of sports. Tonya Harding, the Olympic skater linked to the attack against fellow competitor Nancy Kerrigan just before the 1994 Winter Olympics. But she says the world only knows half of her story. Now she's revealing shocking new details about the incident, as well as tales of rape and abuse in a book called The Tonya Tapes. Earlier, I had a chance to speak with Tonya Harding. She says she's disclosing such personal details in an effort to send a message.

[...]

HALL: Let me ask you this. You talk about the way people view you. Obviously, big presidential race, and the "Tonya Harding option" actually came up in the news. Reportedly that was one of the options that Senator Clinton's campaign was looking at and that they would do anything to take out Senator Barack Obama. Your name became synonymous -- or is synonymous with taking out the other person. I know you had to have heard this. What did you feel, and how do you feel when even your name comes up in a situation like politics?

HARDING: Well, you know what? Whatever people said, it doesn't matter. It's their opinion. But I think that there's more important issues that we need to deal with in this world and that they need to focus on the candidacy at hand and hopefully help this country.

HALL: But did you cringe when you heard this, though?

HARDING: I just heard about it just a little while ago, and I just thought that it was really sad that they have to talk about me and not the problems in the world.

HALL: All right, Tonya. Thank you very much.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Mika Brzezinski, Tamron Hall
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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