Thursday, March 17, 2011


There's nothing unusual about a Murdoch media property publishing a provocative-sounding story that's embarrassing to a political enemy and that's based on suspiciously anonymous quotes, so of course we should take this story, from Murdoch's iPad paper The Daily, with many grains of salt. The question is: Why now? I'll make a guess below.

Fed up with a president "who can't make his mind up" as Libyan rebels are on the brink of defeat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking to the exits.

At the tail end of her mission to bolster the Libyan opposition, which has suffered days of losses to Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces, Clinton announced that she’s done with Obama after 2012 -- even if he wins again.

"Obviously, she's not happy with dealing with a president who can't decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can't make his mind up," a Clinton insider told The Daily....

So when does this story -- the first Daily story ever to get the slightest bit of attention on the Internet at large -- appear on our radar? Why, it appears the very day The New York Times announces a plan to start charging for online content. Murdoch has customized the Daily for the iPad; the Daily's stories are on the larger Internet, but they're not getting any traction with those of us who are iPadless. And, well, iPad users aren't really ponying up for the damn thing -- paid subscriptions seem to be a whopping 5,000. (The Murdoch people deny the numbers are that low, but they would, wouldn't they?)

So -- on the very day the Times announces that it's ceding the circulation advantage it gets from making its content available free -- the Daily floats this story, in what seems to be a desperate attempt to get people to notice an online publication that's utterly failed to get noticed in the marketplace. In other words, "Now that you're going top have to pay to read the Times on your iPad, um, did you know we have an iPad paper?"

Hell yeah I question the timing -- and the truthfulness of the story.

Politico's Ben Smith is also skeptical. The anonymous source in the Daily story is quoted as saying,

“If you take a look at what's on her plate as compared with what's on the plates of previous Secretary of States -- there's more going on now at this particular moment, and it's like playing sports with a bunch of amateurs...."

Smith writes:

Secretary of States? People a bit closer to Foggy Bottom typicially use the plural, "Secretaries of State."

The other bit of the story that doesn't quite make sense is the claim that PJ Crowley's resignation was a DoD power play, rather than a)inevitable and b)the dearest wish of Clinton's inner circle anyway.


And as for Hillary's decision not to stay on past 2012, don't forget that we haven't had an eight-year Secretary of State since Dean Rusk, under JFK and LBJ; only one other SoS in the 20th century, Cordell Hull (under FDR), served more than one full presidential term. One-and-done is how the Secretaries of State for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush served. So what's the surprise?

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