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Why Did It Take Sinbad to Expose Hillary Clinton's Bosnia "Misstatement"?



Hillarylclintonsmile As I've been watching coverage of Hillary Clinton's attempt to explain why she characterized a visit to Bosnia years ago as much more dangerous than it actually was, I've been struck by network reporters' attempts to insert themselves into the story.

Both CBS's Sharyl Attkisson and NBC's Andrea Mitchell have pointed out during their reports that they were actually with Clinton on that Bosnia trip and recalled no sniper fire, rushing crowds or exagerrated danger. Since headlines have been filled with the news, other journalists who took that trip 12 years ago -- including former MTV News reporter Tabitha Soren -- have weighed in.

Sinbad So why did it take comic Sinbad to blow the lid on the whole deal?

The idea that Clinton may have been fudging the truth about her Bosnia story first came from a March 11 interview Sinbad gave to The Sleuth, a behind-the-scenes Washington blog produced by writer Mary Ann Akers. The former Jingle All the Way co-star, last in the news denying widespread rumors he was dead (just the career folks, rimshot!) accompanied Clinton on the 1996 trip with singer Sheryl Crow and said it wasn't so dangerous.

His best line: "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"

Unfortunately, Sinbad also declared himself an Obama supporter during the interview, which probablyClintonbosnia2_2   cost him credibility. And Akers basically presented the story as a he said, she said, with a Clinton spokesman providing quotes from stories published at the time noting the danger. Journalists acknowledge Clinton has told the Bosnia story at least since December on the stump; relating it so many times, reporters who regularly cover her had begun to joke about how often she'd drag out this old chestnut.

The Post ran a snarky blog item on Clinton's use of the story Dec. 29 and the conservative media watchdog site Newsbusters noted March 18 that no reporter covering the Bosnia trip in 1996 mentioned sniper fire.

But the truth of the Bosnia visit didn't resonate in the mainstream press until Attkisson's story this week (what's funny, is that Attkisson's original report plays up the danger of the visit a lot more than her latest story).

But shouldn't Mitchell and Attkisson, who have filed more than a few election stories this year, have remembered the truth before now?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:45pm]


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