Clinton at Rushmore: Our Soundbite Culture Paralyzes

I find this interaction sad:

Clinton stood before the four former presidents [on Mount Rushmore] and listened in as a park ranger explained some of the history. At one point, she was asked if she could one day picture herself up there. She smirked and shook her head as she contemplated whether to offer a quick soundbite.

“I …” she started to say, before throwing her hands up.

“You think Bill Clinton should be up there?” another reporter asked.

“Why don’t you learn something about the monument,” Clinton finally said, before walking away to greet some more tourists.

Maybe Clinton is fatigued and frustrated and beleaguered. Maybe the soundbite-hungry nature of our culture, our technology, and our media weighed so heavily on her mind she was unable to say anything, paralyzed by the fear that she would again make instant, accidental, and unwanted news.

I don’t know. Whatever the reason, I’m strongly and perhaps irrationally sympathetic.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now