Monday, November 5, 2007
Hillary Rodham Clinton is increasingly coming under attack by fellow Democratic candidates, who are hoping to gain ground in the coming weeks. At the October 30th debate, the criticism reached its highest point yet, as candidate after candidate targeted Clinton and her policies. The next day, the Clinton campaign answered back. Not from the podium, but instead through a cleverly edited video delivered via the Internet.
The video was placed on Clinton’s HillaryHub.com website, as well as on YouTube.com. Set to Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” it shows rivals John Edwards, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd directing their answers and criticism at Clinton--one after the other, in quick succession. It ends with a snip-it of Clinton stating "I seem to be the topic of great conversation and great consternation and that's for a reason." Finally, as the video fades to black, the words "The Politics of Pile-On" appear on the screen.
In terms of apologia, the Clinton video relies on new media to deliver what William Benoit refers to as a strategy of “attacking the accuser.” Such a strategy is aimed at reducing the effectiveness of a criticisms by attacking the accusers and, essentially, undermining the creditability of their claims. In this case, it is used to dismiss the criticisms raised against Clinton as mere pile-on politics, rather than valid claims worthy of consideration by voters.
This example of political apologia also emphasizes the need for future research on how new media apologiae are employed in political campaigns today.