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The Healy Conundrum: What’s Behind the Attacks?

by Pamela Leavey

Patrick Healy (photo above), known for his assaults on Democratic politicians, recently wrote a particularly disturbing piece in N.Y. Times about Hillary Clinton’s laugh, which he labels a “cackle.”

Stepping offstage, she took questions from reporters, and found herself being grilled about whether she was moderating her own pro-choice position. And suddenly it happened: Mrs. Clinton let loose a hearty belly laugh that lasted a few seconds. Reporters glanced at one another as if they had missed the joke.

But nothing particularly funny had occurred; it was, instead, a deployment of the Clinton Cackle.

A Cackle?

Cackle is a word that is often equated with a witch, and it’s extremely sexist, as noted by Ann at Feministing, Jeralyn at Talk Left and Alegre on DKos.

Healy of course doesn’t just stop with the reference to the “Cackle” he attempts to point out the Hillary’s laugh may be a slight of sorts to those asking questions of her. You know a put down. Healy intimates that Clinton’s laugh might even be “Programmed.”

Good gracious, Patrick Healy actually calls himself a journalist? There’s nothing newsworthy about this piece. But then that’s Healy’s style, isn’t it. Writing hit pieces about Democratic politicians and passing them off as news. Media Matters had a piece last year about another hit piece Healy wrote about the Clinton’s. In the Media Matters piece they note:

Healy’s past coverage of 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) was marred by inaccurate and incomplete reporting that provided Republicans and conservatives ammunition for attacks on Kerry’s campaign. Healy covered Kerry’s campaign in 2004 for The Boston Globe.

In a December 23, 2003, Globe article, Healy wrote that Kerry, while visiting a construction site in Iowa, “declined to put a plastic hard hat on his carefully coiffed hair (a camera crew was taping him for a commercial), but he did drop the perfect elocution he honed at prep school, Yale, and during 19 years in the US Senate.” According to Nexis, however, a correction to the article was issued the following day, which read: “Because of a reporting error, a story yesterday about Senator John F. Kerry’s 24-hour bus tour in Iowa incorrectly said he was reluctant to use a plastic hard hat at a construction site in Davenport because it might mess his hair. Kerry wore the hard hat at one point during his visit to the site.”

As a blogger for the Kerry campaign, I remember all too well the tripe dribble loaded with inaccuracies that Healy passed off as journalism during the ’04 campaign. That he managed to move his way up from the Boston Globe to the N.Y. Times is mind-boggling.

Hillary Clinton is one strong, tough woman. And men of all stripes feel threatened by gutsy women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and yes, laugh at questions that are sometimes aimed at her from a sexist viewpoint. As a woman, I totally get that, because sometimes we women, have to laugh at the inane questions and put downs that come from the mouths of men or a printed in the media by journalists on a sensationalist’s journey into the bowels of shoddy journalism (remember the “cleavage” topic not long ago).

If this is what Healy thinks is a “Cackle,” well then, I for one am not laughing:

Hillary Clinton knows how to give it when when it’s been dished out to her, and her laughter is far from a cackle. It’s infused by her inate sense of knowing herself very well, it’s infused by her self confidence honed from years of dealing with caustic journalists like Patrick Healy.

Contact the N.Y. Times and let them know Patrick Healy’s attack style journalism against our Democratic leaders is not acceptable:

Letters to the Editor: editorial@nytimes.com.
Phone: (212) 556-1831


Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher

Scott H. Heekin-Canedy, President, General Manager

This isn’t simply about Hillary Clinton’s laugh, this about standing up and demanding journalistic integrity, because if anyone thinks that Healy won’t find some way to diss Barack Obama or John Edwards, or any of the other Democratic candidates, they are wrong. What Healy did to Kerry in ’04 was down-right despicable. Patrick Healy is a small man with a platform, that needs to pulled out from under him. And that readers, is the Healy Conundrum and what’s behind his attacks.

Think about how many times you’ve watched political interviews on TV, the Sunday talk shows, etc and think about how often our Pols do exactly what Hillary is doing, they laugh when asked inane questions and so do we.

4 Responses to “The Healy Conundrum: What’s Behind the Attacks?”

  1. That sounds like a nervous laugh, although I can’t blame her. She didn’t even answer the question unless it was cut off.

  2. I don;t know about Healy or what he brands a “cackle”, but I can tell you from my own personal opinion that Hillary definitely shows some poor judgment in how she responds to certain serious questions. Case in point was the Yahoo debate where Bill Maher asked her why she voted to authorize the war and she laughed in his face…and I’ll be damed if it didn’t come across as totally inappropriate.

    From the Gore sighs to the Dean scream the media loves to make a mountain out of a molehill, but Clinton isn’t doing herself any favors.

  3. Hart has good connections with e-bay. Maybe he could check and see if there was a job on the NYT for sale in the past. I guarantee you that some of these rich, under cover conservatives would snap that up and give it to somebody like this Healy guy (another nobody with whom I’m proud to say I have no acquaintance).

  4. i11ustrator

    My last line in the post, I note that I have seen other politicians laugh when asked questions by the media. I think it’s far more common than we stop to think about. It’s a reaction that could boil down to “oh, here’s that question again about Iraq” or whatever, to “wow, this journalist is asking me this”.