Jessica Yellin: Getting Yelled at by Bill Clinton So You Don't Have To

Jessica Yellin
CNN’s Jessica Yellin reports from Des Moines theday before the Iowa caucuses. Photo: Mark Hill, CNN.


It's hard to be a TV political correspondent. Unlike print and radio reporters, you can't just show up to work unshowered, wearing yesterday's pants that are beginning to smell like a muffin. You have to look good, and you have to have energy. That's while keeping track of who's up, who's down, who's black, who's white, who used to be black, etc. Bless those people. In this week's New York, we picked out five of the rising stars in the 2008 presidential-election press corps that you should keep your eye on because they're fun, smart, trustworthy, and most important, cute. Just for the Web, we spoke with each about covering the campaigns this year. After the jump, check out our eight questions for CNN's Jessica Yellin. She's the hard-tested correspondent who got bitched out by Bill Clinton last week after asking a perfectly reasonable question. She's an old hat at political interviews, having sat down with Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, and many others. (We also think she's funny because, as many correspondents were searching for words to describe how blue-staters feel about Karl Rove, she just came out and said it: "For many Democrats, Karl Rove is the 'Dark Prince' of the Bush administration." He's sexy evil!)

What do you think we're going to know the day after Super Tuesday?
We'll know that there won't be a clear nominee in either party. And the candidates, their staff, and the reporters who cover them might not sleep or eat a sit-down meal (scarfing down a sandwich on a bus or plane doesn't count) until mid-November 2008.

What type of coverage intimidates you?
I'm not sure what intimidates me. What scares me is the thought that I might be missing a story. At any time. Like right now, while I'm answering these questions.

What's your funniest campaign-trail anecdote?
None fit for print. [Ed: Unfortunately, all the best aren't.]

What should the candidates be talking about that they are not?
It's not my place to say what the candidates should be discussing. But viewers tell me they think the candidates should be talking about the "issues" more. The truth is they talk issues all day long: health care, economy, Iraq. But it doesn't seem to penetrate until those topics get repeated on air all day, day in and day out. And the quandary is, how many times can you report on the details of their health-care plans or their economic-stimulus packages?

What's your caffeine of choice?
What's NOT my caffeine of choice? I usually travel with a minimum of two and a maximum of four beverages at one time.

Which candidates handle the press best?
Whichever ones are trailing in the polls. When they're ahead, they're inaccessible. But when they lose, they're suddenly chatty and happy to get in front of the cameras.

When you're tired on the campaign trail, any tips on looking bright and fresh for the campaign?
Wash your hair! Clean, just-blown-dry hair hides a multitude of sins. And Kevyn Aucoin foundation, a career saver.

What previous journalistic experience prepared you best for this?
Two and a half years anchoring the overnight news. It taught me to how to function well on little sleep.

Bless you, Jessica Yellin. When Bill Clinton yelled at you, it felt like he was yelling at all of us.

The Other Campaign [NYM]
Bill Clinton Rebukes Media [CNN]
Earlier: Low Temperatures, High Drama: Inside the Iowa Press Corps