Let's see if the Hillary spin stops now on Fox, the no spin channel........ - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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Let's see if the Hillary spin stops now on Fox, the no spin channel........

It’s Splitsville for Rupert and Hillary

Honeymoons don’t last forever. Just ask Hillary Clinton and Rupert Murdoch.

Two years ago, Mr. Murdoch, the head of the News Corporation — which owns The New York Post — was in the midst of a rapprochement with Senator Clinton. He put aside the antagonism that had defined their relationship, even holding a fund-raiser for her Senate campaign before the paper went on, improbably, to endorse her re-election effort.

Their newfound friendship seemingly came to a crashing end last Thursday. There was the headline on the front page of The Post, right next to “Cop Sex Ring,” for all to see: “Post Endorses Obama.” Not only an endorsement, but they gave it the wood — industry jargon for the huge type on the front page — for crying out loud. Not even John McCain, a longtime favorite of both The Post and Mr. Murdoch, got the wood for his endorsement the next day.

If this was a loud statement on behalf of Barack Obama’s candidacy, it was mostly stated in the negative, with the beginning, middle and end of the argument all built on the fact that Mr. Obama would make a good president mostly because Mrs. Clinton would not. “And again he is not Team Clinton,” the editorial concluded. “That counts for a great deal.”

Why did The Post kick Senator Clinton to the curb? The venom of the editorial about the Democrats and Mrs. Clinton — “a return to the opportunistic, scandal-scarred, morally muddled years of the almost infinitely self-indulgent Clinton co-presidency” — invited suggestions that Mr. Murdoch was using The New York Post to set up a straw man for the Republicans to mow down in the fall.

But the real answer is a good deal more complicated. Yes, two years ago, Mrs. Clinton had breakfast at The New York Post, and yes, the ex-president took a tour of the newsroom. And Page Six laid off calling Bill Clinton the “horn-dog-in-chief” for a bit.

But this was never a full embrace on either side. The Post’s cease-fire with Mrs. Clinton was built on realpolitik. Mr. Murdoch’s politics are less ideological than a kind of enlightened pragmatism of being in favor of those who are in favor (he vigorously supported both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair). So having a good working relationship with one of New York’s senators made sense.

Back in 2006 when the paper endorsed her for Senate, it was made clear that there was no endorsement of what were assumed to be her broader ambitions.

"We think she’s done such a good job these last six years that she’d do well to serve six more. If not 12," said The Post. "Re-elect Hillary. In 2012."

As a senator, Mrs. Clinton did put time and effort into the care and feeding of the tabloid, making sure that Post reporters had access to news and expertise out of her office, along with the occasional scoop when it suited both parties. But she never once appeared before its editorial board — a customary act of tribute by local politicians — and her lack of deference was duly noted by the paper’s leadership.

Part of the cooling in the relationship, according to people involved on both sides, has to do with the realities of being a hometown paper. When Mrs. Clinton was serving and running as a senator, she had a relationship with the paper. But as her candidacy for president gathered momentum, The Post became just one more part of the media scrum, and the paper did not react well to the disregard.

When John Edwards announced that he would boycott the Fox News Channel debate last spring, Mrs. Clinton went along. Fox News and The Post are corporate siblings, although they’re not particularly close. Still, Mr. Murdoch certainly took note of the fact that the courtesies extended to Mrs. Clinton — a muted presence in the gossip columns of Page Six, more balance in the news pages — did not seem to be returned in kind.

And then there is the tabloid instinct for mischief. Papers like The Post thrive on what Edgar Allan Poe called the “imp of the perverse.” By zigging when others expect it to zag, The Post puts itself in the thick of the national discussion and asserts itself as something other than a money-losing tabloid that people in an island off the coast of America pick up mostly for gossip and sports.

Tabloids thrive on heat. They love a running story, but they also get bored easily. (Although not everyone in the newsroom does. The political editor of the paper, Gregg Birnbaum, has a Web site called JustHillary that is constantly updated with fresh pictures and links to articles.) Col Allan, the editor of The Post, is someone who lives and dies by understanding the moment. And it is his opinion, and that of Mr. Murdoch, that this moment does not belong to the Clintons.

In its purest form, The Post functions as a kind of mood ring and mirrors the public’s lack of enthusiasm for a package presidency that has Bill Clinton in campaign mode again. The Post has lost its appetite for Mrs. Clinton for the same reason that they lost interest in Paris Hilton: that wasn’t the story their readers wanted.

Is there any hope for Mrs. Clinton and The Post? Well, she’s still the senator from New York. The Clintons and Mr. Murdoch were supposed to have a conference call after the Obama endorsement last Thursday, but it failed to take place because of conflicting schedules. No one knows better than the Clintons and Mr. Murdoch that life is long and they will undoubtedly meet again.

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