Hillary Clinton Launches New Podcast, in Which she is Interviewed by a Paid Supporter — But Many See it as Just Another Way she is Avoiding the Press

Prior to her campaign’s podcast, Hillary Clinton sat down with POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush in April for his Off-Message podcast. | Bridget Mulcahy/POLITICO
Prior to her campaign’s podcast, Hillary Clinton sat down with POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush in April for his Off-Message podcast. | Bridget Mulcahy/POLITICO

One of Hillary Clinton’s first sitdown interviews since the Democratic National Convention was conducted by a self-described supporter who has been hired by the campaign to host the Democratic nominee’s official campaign podcast.

“With Her,” which launched on iTunes Friday morning, promises an inside account “straight from Hillary [of] what life is like on the campaign trail.” The series is being produced by the campaign and hosted by Max Linsky, a founding editor of Longform.org and a co-host of the well-respected Longform podcast. The debut episode features Linsky’s 15-minute interview with the nominee.

The result is a casual conversation that steers clear of politics — and it’s the latest example of how Clinton is trying to control her storyline. She has been criticized for limiting press access by not participating in press conferences and being slow to grant reporters the level of access that has become common and expected of candidates vying for the Oval Office.

Now, she has gone a step further, creating a safe space from which to present the image of herself that she wants voters to see.

“You can call me whatever you want to call me,” a relaxed-sounding Clinton tells Linsky. “You can call me Hillary, you can call me Madam Secretary. You can call me, ‘hey you.’” (He settles for “Hillary.”)

With 87 days to go to until the election, Donald Trump’s name does not come up once in the conversation. Nor is there any discussion of new emails that have once again raised questions about the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton-lead State Department.

Instead, Linsky appears more interested in getting Clinton to discuss the emotional and human experience of running for president. He asks her what was going through her mind after hugging her daughter on stage at the convention (spoiler alert: “such a rush of emotion”), how she keeps up her stamina, how she stays engaged with the people she’s meeting and what she thinks about before she goes to bed.

Clinton chats about the iPhone ringtone she employs as an alarm clock, Facetiming with her grandchildren, and how she plans to end a day of campaigning in Miami with a meal of Cuban food and locally brewed beers.

But getting new and specific details about life on the campaign trail can prove difficult with a guarded and practiced interviewee. “I usually get up, get dressed, get out the door,” Clinton explains of her morning routine. “I get a big briefing in my phone and a paper version and I go through that. There’s a regular routine for every day.”

Linsky, a well-respected podcast host, told POLITICO that he was given no specific ground rules for his interview with Clinton. But his access to the candidate comes from being on the campaign’s official payroll.

“She’s taking a page from President Obama’s playbook — using in-house videos, blogs, photographs, etc. — to tightly control his message,” said Democratic strategist Lis Smith, a former top adviser to onetime presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. “Where she deviates — and where it should be troubling for the press and public — is that she has massive trust issues that could be addressed with more transparency, and she refuses to hold press conferences.”

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