How to tell if you’re interviewing Hillary Clinton

Journalists mess up now and then. It just happens — even when you’re trying your best to get everythingHillary
right. Perhaps you wrote "Hilary" instead of "Hillary." Perhaps you said "Hillary made her speech at 9 p.m." when she really made her speech at 8 p.m. And perhaps — if your day is really going poorly — you interviewed the wrong Hillary.

It was incorrectly reported in Tuesday’s Tribune Chronicle that Sen.
Hillary Rodham Clinton answered questions from voters in a local
congressman’s office.

Reporter John Goodall, who was assigned to the story, spoke by
telephone with Hillary Wicai Viers, who is a communications director in
U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson’s staff. According to the reporter, when Viers
answered the phone with ‘‘This is Hillary,’’ he believed he was
speaking with the Democratic presidential candidate, who had made
several previous visits to the Mahoning Valley.

The quotes from Viers were incorrectly attributed to Clinton.

Wilson, the 6th District representative, hosted the first of six
‘‘economic listening tours’’ in his office on Boardman Canfield Road
Monday. The talks were for people living in Columbiana and Mahoning
counties. Wilson’s district stretches from Mahoning County to Scioto on
the Kentucky border.

‘‘We rely on reporters to gather accurate
information, and in this case, that obviously did not happen,” said
Frank Robinson, editor of the paper. He said the the newspaper takes
the matter very seriously and the situation is being reviewed. [Link]

As mistakes in journalism go, Goodall’s article is a pretty big one (though not as unforgivable as plagiarism). I’m really surprised he didn’t know he wasn’t interviewing Clinton. Perhaps he didn’t get the memo from the Society of Professional Journalists.


Some of our members have asked if there’s a way to determine if they’re really interviewing Hillary Clinton. Here are some clues. It’s not Hillary Clinton if:

1. She answers the phone.

2. The next primary election is in Pennsylvania and you’re writing for a small newspaper in Warren, Ohio.

3. She does not use the words "My opponent says …" and "Under the current administration …"

4. She can pronounce local names such as "Mahoning" and "Scioto."

5. She makes no reference to the prosperity of the 1990s.

6. She ends the call by saying, "Call me anytime, John. And don’t forget to add me on Facebook."

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