Just over six months ago, before she had the nomination wrapped up, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton made an appearance on “The Steve Harvey Show.”
Clinton was billed as the “surprise guest” in a Q & A segment, but according to a leaked email from within the Clinton campaign, very little about her appearance was a surprise — right down to a photo of a 12-year-old Hillary and the candidate’s response to a number of questions.
The email, first published on the DC Leaks site, outlined her appearance in detail and explained the purpose for doing the show:
“The purpose of this interview is to reach African American and women voters. We reached out to the show because it is the most watched TV show for African Americans in the United States.
Steve’s show averages 2.6 million viewers daily and has a significant social media following. His main demographic is women ages 25-54. Steve is known to be a host who goes out of his way to make his guests feel comfortable.”
But then the email got into even more detail. Photos that Harvey would show and even questions he would ask were included. But even more shocking were the answers that had been scripted out for the candidate:
Question from audience member Robin Rick (Robin is a Supervisor at Manhattan Beach Unified Schools Kitchen):
“Hi Steve. I’m a grandmother of 12 kids so by now I’m running out of fun things to do with them. I’m looking for new ways to entertain them so I was wondering, since Marjorie (Steve’s wife) is a grandmother like me what are some of her favorite things to do with your grandkids?)”
After the question is asked, he will surprise the audience by introducing his “expert,” YOU. YOU will enter the stage and assist Steve in answering the question. At this point he will show the picture of YOU and President Clinton holding Charlotte for the first time.
Then, the email instructions went to how Mrs. Clinton should respond:
Question from Steve to YOU:
What do YOU think of Robin’s question?
I’m lucky, I only have one grandchild at the moment and another one coming this summer! So I’m just experiencing the newness of it all. We spend countless hours just watching Charlotte in awe. When she learned to clap her hands, we gave her a standing ovation…
I love to sing the song ‘Wheels on the Bus,’ and that keeps Charlotte entertained.
Bill and I are trying to be as much help to Chelsea and Marc as our own parents were to us.
One suggestion for how to keep the 12 grandkids entertained is to have them play a game together, have them engaged and break them up in teams and plan something that’s active like a scavenger hunt!
Even topics about which Clinton has been outspoken and passionate were fully scripted, complete with possible responses.
For example, on gun control:
Harvey: I did a show on gun violence. So many suffering here in Chicago and across the country. How do we reduce gun violence in America?
Note: This is another area where both YOU and Steve have strong and similar views on this issue. Steve dedicated an entire show to discuss gun violence in Chicago which aired on February 15, 2016. One of the mothers who participated in the Feb. 15th gun violence show was Cleopatra Pendleton, Hadiya Pendleton’s mom. We’ve let the producers know that YOU met with Mrs. Pendleton and other mothers of the movement last time YOU were in Chicago.
We have got to come together and change our system. After the recent Chicago video was released, I called for a full review by the Justice Department into the practices of the Chicago police department.
I think we need better officer training on de-escalation. To put an end to racial profiling. And to end the era of mass incarceration—by cutting back on mandatory minimums, ending for-profit prisons, and ending the crack-cocaine disparity.
But we also need to fight for common-sense gun reform and comprehensive background checks. To keep guns out of the wrong hands, including the mentally unstable, domestic abusers, and, of course, criminals.
And even pizza — with or without the hot sauce:
Steve Harvey: Welcome to Chicago. Important question. No flip flopping. Deep dish or thin crust?
Note: Obviously this is a playful start to the segment to break the ice. Steve may even follow-up with ‘Hot sauce or no hot sauce?’ since they’ve read that YOU love hot sauce. We can see Steve having fun with this.
In the past, a number of presidents have been “given the questions ahead of time” for press events and interviews.
The tradition dates as far back as Republican President Theodore Roosevelt — the first to give regular press conferences — who demanded that the reporters submit questions in writing beforehand. He would then choose which questions he wanted to answer.
But in more recent years, public scrutiny of any press event that seemed overly scripted has led a number of outlets to confirm that the White House daily briefings are not scripted and neither are the presidential debates.
In many cases — presidential debates included — general topics of conversation may be provided in advance. But the full interaction is rarely scripted, especially when the interview appears on an entertainment-based show like Steve Harvey’s where the questions are expected to be softballs.