On Friday, I peeked beneath the sheets of the New York Times‘ love affair with Hillary Clinton. This weekend, the gray lady took it up a notch.
Let’s compare the Sunday headlines:
A1: “Somber Clinton Soldiers On as the Horizon Darkens” [illustrated by gigantic presidentially stoic image of Clinton soldiering on]
Inside, on the jump: “On Center Stage, a Candidate Letting His Confidence Show” [illustrated by said candidate smiling while leaving the stage at a press conference]
Reporter Michael Powell diagnoses the sinister truth behind Obama’s smile:
A touch of cockiness is discernable in his manner now; he is like a gambler convinced his every dice roll will come up double sixes.
Then, like a jilted reporter, Powell goes on to call Obama an “elusive starlet” and–no kidding–“a tease” when it comes to spending quality time with the press.
Meanwhile, reporter Patrick Healy warns readers/voters that the Clinton campaign has got the blues. Some staffers have even taken to turning off their Blackberrys after 9 p.m. and hitting the bottle (Why, oh why, weren’t they getting sauced before? $1,200 on donuts, but no booze? Talk about campaign strategy problems.)
Despite it all, Healy reassures, Hillary’s hanging in there:
Mrs. Clinton has, though, increasingly sought to keep her fate in perspective. In her debate in Texas on Thursday with Mr. Obama, she delivered what some viewers saw as a valedictory–but what she said was a simple expression from the heart–when she spoke warmly about the race and her rival.
“I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored,” she said. “And you know, whatever happens, we’re going to be fine.”
“Hillary is incredibly tough–she grew up with two brothers and a strong father in the Midwest, so she knows a challenge… She has gone through so much, where someone like me would hide under the covers. But she gets up. She works. She tries.”
UPDATE: Though I’d say Healy’s story read like a rallying warning to Hillary supporters, her people disagree. And, according to the Huffington Post, they’re peeved that the paper won’t print a letter of objection from supporters–what editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal rightly calls a “press release.”