Hillary Clinton caused a firestorm when comments she made about former rival Sen. Bernie Sanders in a new documentary became public on Tuesday.
But in an interview with The Times at the Television Critics Assn. press tour last week, Clinton said she “absolutely” stood by the pointed criticisms she makes in “Hillary,” which screens this week at the Sundance Film Festival and will be available to stream on Hulu in March. The documentary was directed by Nanette Burstein.
“It wasn’t just him, it was his major supporters, his online advocates. They were relentless, ruthless, in not just attacking me but people who supported me,” she said. “Some of the groups of women that formed, like Pantsuit Nation, to support me during the campaign were so barraged with vile attacks that they made themselves private groups. There was just something about what he not only motivated but accepted in how he talked about me, and how he allowed others to talk about me, that I found deeply offensive. And he seems to turn a blind eye, to approve, the same kind of behavior with respect to how other candidates, particularly women candidates, are being treated online by his rabid followers.”
In the interview, Clinton declined to weigh in on the tensions that erupted last week between Sanders and his current rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, over diverging accounts of a private conversation about a woman’s ability to win the White House. “The most important goal is to nominate somebody who can beat Trump. Everything else is a sideshow,” Clinton said.
But the former secretary of State did suggest that some female candidates in the 2020 primary had been the target of gendered attacks.
“There was a common saying in 2016, where people would say, ‘Oh yeah, I’d vote for a woman, just not that woman,’” she told The Times, referring to herself. “Now we’re seeing the people who’d say, ‘Oh, I’d vote for Elizabeth Warren [in 2016]’ — some of those same people are now part of a concerted attack on Elizabeth Warren. Is it because they disagree with her policies? Well, there are other candidates they could disagree with. But the vitriolic assault on Kamala Harris, which came online, [and] Elizabeth Warren, seems to be heavily tinged with sexism. And even the press, which I thought would get better — and did, to some extent — still they fall back into the old stereotypes, which are very rooted in gender double standards.”
In the documentary, Clinton says of Sanders: “Honestly, Bernie just drove me crazy. He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him [in the 2016 primary]. Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done. He was a career politician. He did not work until he was like 41, and then he got elected to something. It was all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”
The interviews with Clinton in the documentary were filmed over three sit-down meetings beginning in November 2018, according to Burstein.
Clinton’s comments sparked anger from Sanders’ supporters on social media, where the hasthag #ILikeBernie was trending Tuesday afternoon, fueling more talk of Democratic infighting on the first day of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Asked about Clinton’s remarks on Tuesday, Sanders told reporters, “On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one. Secretary Clinton is entitled to her opinion. My job today is to focus on the impeachment trial.”
Clinton also made light of the furor, tweeting late Tuesday, “I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views!”
“But to be serious, the number one priority for our country and world is retiring Trump,” she continued, “and, as I always have, I will do whatever I can to support our nominee.”