If you’re a political junkie, you’ve most likely heard about Amy Chozick’s “Chasing Hillary,” a page-turning memoir of Chozick’s career. The book chronicles how she and her peers reported on both of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful campaigns for president, and has attracted ire from none other than Chelsea Clinton.
But what hasn’t made as many headlines is one of Chozick’s key arguments: 2016 represented the new norm of political campaign reporting, she writes, due to dramatic technological changes — and not always good ones. While Clinton’s campaign exerted a normal amount of control on its press pool, historically referred to as “the boys on the bus,” everything Donald Trump said was streamed online for the world to consume, live.
“A sub-theme of the book is the decline of campaign reporting,” Chozick said on the latest episode of Recode Media. “I am not putting that on the press corps, but on the changing nature of the job. Suddenly, we had this all-female press corps and I say, call it a slap in the face from the patriarchy or a stroke of bad luck, but by the time it became ‘the girls on the bus,’ the role of the bus in the media ecosystem had been vastly diminished.”
Without that shift — away from a press that delivers updates based on physical proximity to the candidate — Trump could not have been elected, she told Recode’s Ed Lee.
“Chasing Hillary” draws from Chozick’s hundreds of reporters’ notebooks, including things she heard from other reporters when they were off the clock, but those stories are rarely or never published while the campaign is going on. Even for fellow journalists, knowing that your words and deeds are fair game can have a chilling effect, she said.
“Even Vogue did a story on the ‘girls on the bus,’” Chozick recalled. “When the Vogue writer was there, one of my friends was like, ‘Please stop drinking so much Perrier. It’s gonna be in the story.’ It was like, we were very paranoid about everything.”
On the new podcast, Chozick also talked about the Clinton family’s often-contentious history with her employer, the New York Times. Raised in Texas by a family that would have assumed the Times was “in the tank” for the Clintons, she said she had to educate herself on “decades of baggage.”
“At one point, Hillary’s press handlers were trying to talk me out of, I don’t know which story it was, but they feigned concern and said, ‘I just don’t want you to become the Jeff Gerth of your generation,’” Chozick said. “Jeff Gerth was the reporter who broke the Whitewater story. They were very much stuck in the ’90s: Whitewater was yesterday, but all the positive endorsements the paper had given Hillary didn’t exist.”
She also addressed the question a lot of pundits have had to grapple with in the past year and a half: How much of Clinton’s defeat in 2016 can be chalked up to misogyny? Chozick said we may need historical distance and perspective to get a full picture of what happened, but she suspects the answer is “a lot.”
“I think her career is going to be such a symbol of how we viewed powerful women in this period of American history, that it’s going to be incredibly important and studied for decades,” she said. “The fact the last chapter of her political career was up against this candidate who was bragging about sexually assaulting women and had a known history of insulting women, it was such a confluence of forces.”
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.