The Washington Post has become the latest news outfit to assign a reporter to cover Hillary Clinton's “seemingly inevitable” run for the presidency, marking the first time the media has focused so heavily on somebody who hasn't even announced a White House bid.
The Post even gave a name to the media's -- and their -- obsession with the first family of American politics: “Clintonia.” Said a Post release about the assignment of well-regarded State Department reporter Anne Gearan to the Clinton beat, “She'll work closely with other reporters who have steeped themselves in Clintonia.”
So far at least five news organizations — CNN, Bloomberg, the Post, the New York Times and Politico — have Clinton reporters, and many more are expected to add their own. In past campaigns, reporters have been assigned to leading candidates after they announce their presidential bids.
Clinton defender David Brock, a critic of conservative media, said the “market is big” for covering the former first lady and former secretary of State. Speaking recently at University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, he said, “Unprecedentedly, nearly every major news outlet has assigned a reporter to a Hillary Clinton beat two and a half years before Election Day.”
Advocates in the media said that assigning reporters early gives them a chance to watch her potential candidacy from the first days. They also said that Clinton has a reputation for keeping reporters at bay and starting early may give the first reporters an inside edge, especially with so-called "Clintonistas."
Critics are concerned that the reporters dedicated to Clinton will become captives of her campaign.
Amy Chozick, the Hillary Clinton reporter for the New York Times, has a picture of former President Bill Clinton on her webpage and Gearan tweeted, “Excited to announce I'll soon be starting a new beat for the Post, covering Hillary Clinton and her likely 2016 run. This will be fun.”
But they both have solid reputations for tough coverage. Chozick, for example, helped write a story critical of the Clinton Foundation, and Gearan, a long-time observer of Washington politics and former Associated Press reporter, has tracked the shifts in foreign policy under Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.