Even since Bill Clinton took office in the ’90s, both Hillary and Chelsea Clinton have been the subject of public scrutiny, facing constant sexist criticism over their style choices. If the fashion police have cooled down in recent months, the harsh judgement of the mother-daughter duo has not. The latest attack on the Clinton women focuses on their income.
During a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, Hillary—who is currently promoting a new book—tried to explain why her family’s significant earnings in speaking fees don’t necessarily mean they’re swimming in wealth.
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt,” Hillary revealed in the sit-down for ABC News. “We had no money when we got there and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. It was not easy.”
Most citizens don’t have multiple “houses” to attend to or the opportunity to earn $200,000 for a single speech, and Sawyer alluded to this in her followup question to Hillary, “Do you think Americans are going to understand five times the median income in this country for one speech?”
“Well, let me put it this way: I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than being connected with any one group or company, as so many people who leave public life do,” Hillary responded.
Hillary’s responses have been criticized, but I actually love the fact that she didn’t apologize for what she made. Yeah, I’ll never be able to relate to her or Bill on a financial level, but would we go after Obama for doing the same thing following his own presidency? Would we shame him for wanting to provide a solid academic experience for his two girls and trying to catch up on the bills? It’s common knowledge that the President collects around $400,000 annually, which, yes, is more money than many of us would ever know what to do with. It also comes with the unique misfortune of being recognizable to everyone in the entire world, and that lack of anonymity means lots of sacrifices have to be made and precautions have to be taken for the safety and well-being of the former First Family. The Clintons may be among the top earners in the country, but I’m more interested in the work that they do than how they’re compensated for it.
Even after departing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Clintons have remained active and productive members of society. Chelsea, who is pregnant with her first child, divulged in a new interview with the Telegraph that she “will always work harder than anyone,” and a quick glance at her resume proves that self-assessment is accurate. After finishing up at Stanford in 2001, she studied international relations at Oxford. She went on to hustle like no other and put in “100 hours a week” in finance prior to helping out on the 2008 campaign trail. She returned to Wall Street and school and eventually started reporting as a special correspondent for NBC News. Her $600,000 salary as a new addition to the news team hasn’t been well-received in the press.
“If that name hadn’t been connected to American royalty, she could have expected to rake in between $100,000 and $200,000 as a first-year network correspondent, a job that people from less-high-profile families snare only through years and years of tireless work covering the news,” wrote Erik Wemple of the Washington Post. “That salary range is confirmed by several people familiar with the compensation levels at major network news outlets.”
I don’t doubt that having the last name Clinton gave her a leg up, but NBC is also responsible for agreeing to those numbers. If we’re going to mock the Clintons for being out of touch with the problems of the American economy, we have to acknowledge that tons of people in the public eye have a lot more money than we’ll see in our lifetimes. At least the Clintons are trying to make an impact on the world we live in, and that should matter more than how hefty their bank accounts happen to be.
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