Both Hillary Clinton and GQ have a lot of explaining to do if the Politico has this story correct According to Ben Smith, Hillary's campaign pressured GQ to kill a piece critical of her by threatening to withhold Bill Clinton's cooperation in the future. The editors of GQ caved into the threat and spiked the article:
Early this summer, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for president learned that the men’s magazine GQ was working on a story the campaign was sure to hate: an account of infighting in Hillaryland.
So Clinton’s aides pulled a page from the book of Hollywood publicists and offered GQ a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity coverboy Bill Clinton.
Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign’s demands, which had been delivered by Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Jay Carson, several sources familiar with the conversations said.
Instead of running the article on Hillary Clinton, the magazine decided to opt for a December puff piece on her husband. George Saunders traveled with Clinton to Africa to write the article after GQ's surrender, and his article will run in the issue where GQ selects its Man of the Year. As Smith reports, Bill Clinton's face on a cover can help sell product -- and GQ had to sell out to get it.
That puts an interesting spin on media relations, especially by a federal elected official. While it's certainly not illegal to demand that a story not be run, and even to threaten to cut off access if it does, it makes the quid pro quo of the Clinton story arguably an in-kind donation. After all, the Clinton campaign knew it was valuable enough to buy off GQ, and the deep-six of Josh Green's article on Hillary had at least an equal value to her campaign. It also calls into question just how far the Clintons will go, once back in the White House, to pressure media outlets into shutting down critical reporting on their activities.
The Politico notes that Hollywood celebrities often pull power plays on the media in the same manner, but there's a large difference. Hollywood celebrities don't make national policy or wield governmental power. The media's job is in part to inform the American public of their performance and to keep them from becoming corrupt and unaccountable. If Hillary the candidate manages to push the media around this easily to silence criticism, imagine what Hillary the President would do to those who report negative aspects of her performance.
Does Hillary believe in a free press? It doesn't appear so, but she believes in one she can buy off cheaply.
Obvious Questions: Could the piece have been as bad for the Clinton camp as the publicity they're now getting? Are they still not quite operating in the internet age? ... Doesn't Bill Clinton want to be on the cover of GQ a month before the Iowa caucuses? You'd think [GQ editor Jim]Nelson would have some leverage of his own.
The Clintons can't roll over the press unless the press lets them. GQ obviously wilts under a mild amount of heat. Who else wants to publish Josh Green's piece? I'll be happy to do it, if Green doesn't take Mickey up on his offer.