CNN's Christiane Amanpour this week became the first person in news media since the 2016 presidential election to interview Hillary Clinton.
She blew it.
Instead of pressing the former secretary of state for her honest thoughts on last year's circus of an election, and pushing hard for meaningful answers to thoughtful questions, Amanpour behaved like a public relations representative, gently floating safe and friendly questions of no real news value or substance.
This was a disservice to Clinton's audience and her supporters. It was also a disservice to Amanpour's industry.
The interview was conducted Tuesday during the Women for Women International conference in New York, so it's understandable that it included lighter and friendlier questions. However, Amanpour was the one who brought up the 2016 election. She should've followed through with actual questions instead of dancing around the issue with easy layups.
Hillary Clinton is one of the most recognizable public figures of the last 30 years. She lost a bitter and divisive presidential election to one of the most unprepared and unlikely candidates ever to run for the White House.
Clinton had the name, the money, the support of her party, the support of two extremely popular former presidents (one of whom is her husband), the support of the entertainment industry and nearly every other conceivable advantage over Donald Trump.
Yet, Clinton lost. In some states, including Ohio, she lost big.
In her first major media interview since the election, it would have been nice to hear Clinton's version of an election autopsy. What we got instead was a fluff interview in which the failed candidate was given room to massage her wounded ego. She was also given multiple opportunities to give a wink and a nod to unsubstantiated rumors alleging the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians during the election. Amanpour didn't even blink when Clinton appeared to suggest that no 2016 presidential debate moderator asked her or Trump about their respective plans to create jobs (they did).
In short, the CNN reporter blew it. Here's a complete rundown of the questions Amanpour asked Clinton:
1. "[G]iven the structure of this conference and this conversation is about women at the peace table, women being part of the solutions, and women being the change makers to bring peace rather than war. Give me a little bit of your vision about how that could work, particularly in some of the most intractable places that don't attract women, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan."
2. "I was going to ask you what you made of the severe proposed cuts to the State Department, to the USAID budget, to the women's issues and platforms that you started, and what you make of the distinct lack of any women, most women, at the security and defense and peace table of this current administration?"
3. "[E]verybody … is really afraid of the crisis with North Korea. So given that affects everybody, including women, what do you make of President Trump saying that he'd be honored to meet Kim Jong-un?"
4. "Did the Syria strike work? Did you support it?"
5. "[W]hat do you imagine your election as the first female president of the United States might have said to the world and to the women of the world who were looking for validation, for somebody to shatter that highest and hardest ceiling?"
6. "[Y]ou've just spoken about the sexism and misogyny and inequity around the world, but do you believe it exists here still? … And do you think – were you a victim of misogyny, and why do you think you lost the majority of the white female vote?"
7. "What do you make of a journalist who basically said that, in fact, President [Vladimir] Putin hated you so much that it was personal? That he was determined to thwart your ambitions."
8. "Did you call President Obama? What did you say to him?"
9. "What would you say to women here, men here, there, and everywhere, about actually the reality of the labor market?"
To Clinton's credit, she comported herself well Tuesday afternoon, knocking nearly every softball question out of the park with answers that pleased both her audience and her interviewer. There just wasn't much news made that day due to the fact it was an extraordinarily safe, and boring, interview.
That's a failing on Amanpour's part.