Somebody's got a thing for Hillary.
The first year broadcasting legend Barbara Walters hosted her iconic year-end special, it was called "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 1993," and Hillary Clinton -- recently moved into the White House as first lady -- was crowned the most fascinating person of that year.
Fast forward 20 years to Wednesday night when Walters, with one foot in the past and another in the future, circled back and selected Clinton as the year's most fascinating person for the second time, before signing off from ABC's final year of the annual special.
In between the show's beginning and end, Clinton was also included in the 2003 lineup (when she was a US senator from New York) and the 2012 lineup (when she was secretary of state), making her the special's most frequently included name, a spokeswoman at ABC told me. (Wikipedia was incorrect about this as of Thursday afternoon.)
But what is it that made her so fascinating this year?
Unemployed for most of the year -- she resigned as President Obama's secretary of state in February, and has since been touring the country giving speeches -- Clinton's selection seems to have been based largely, if not completely, on swirling speculation of a 2016 presidential bid. Unanswered rumors, inquisitive headlines, pleas and outcries about "Ready for Hillary," as the slogan has come to be known, have dominated much of the discourse in the media this past year. But is that enough to earn the "most fascinating" title?
It's clear Walters is a fan of Hillary's, but to what extent will this selection -- and the selections of Clinton throughout the years -- be seen as a political endorsement going forward?
"Not at all," the ABC spokeswoman plainly told me, unwilling to elaborate much further.
Expectedly, the special's interview with Clinton didn't get any closer to unveiling new answers about the politician's future. Instead, Clinton dusted-off what seems to be her go-to response.
"I haven't made up my mind," she said when Walters asked about a presidential bid, which went on to dominate the conversation. Clinton added that if she decides to run, it will be announced next year.
"It's such a difficult decision, and it's one that I'm not going to rush into...and I don't think we should be looking at the next election," Clinton said, sounding presidential. "I think we should be looking at the work that we have today. Our unemployment rate is too high. We have people getting kicked off food stamps who are in terrible economic straits. Small business is not getting credit. I could go on and on, so I think we ought to pay attention to what's happening right now."
I mean, what else did you expect her to say in December of 2013?
When asked about retirement, Clinton said: "I knew I wanted to get off this high wire that I had been on for so long. To spend time just doing things that give us a lot of joy, playing with our dogs, going to movies, just hanging out."
Speaking woman-to-woman, Clinton smiled and said she thought it was "important" to have a woman in the Oval Office. "It matters," she said. "It matters because we have half the population that has given so much to building this country, to making it work, raising children, and, of course, I want to see women eventually in the White House."
Clinton ran for president once already, losing to President Obama in 2008.
And while ABC may not be calling this an endorsement, Hillary supporters rallied on Twitter during Wednesday night's broadcast.
— Ignacio Cruz (@_IgnacioCruz) December 19, 2013
— Hannah Baker (@habaker12) December 19, 2013
Hillary Clinton for President 👑 #FascinatingPeople
— Samantha Cassetty (@SammySue1852) December 19, 2013
Walters spent the first half of Wednesday's nostalgic special looking back at the selections of years past -- from actors such as Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, to politicians like Nelson Mandela and President Obama, to talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, to singers like Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga, among many others.
The 2013 list was quite eclectic. Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawrence, the morning host, cancer survivor and ABC colleague Robin Roberts, the reality stars that make up the Duck Dynasty family, the royal baby and Edward Snowden were among those selected.
The good-girl-gone-bad Miley Cyrus was also included as one of this year's most fascinating people. When asked is she has any regrets, Cyrus answered: "Not at all. It wasn't shock people to shock people, it really was with a purpose."
She went on to admit the twerking was a publicity stunt, aimed at selling records. "[The purpose was] to make everyone in the world be talking about me and my music, which right now it is," she said. The quote doesn't really make sense, but that's what happens when kids start in show business at a young age.
(Perhaps the funniest part of the segment was listening to Walters pronounce Miley's new album, Bangerz.)
"Sadly, some people have mocked them," Walters said, introducing Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, which was a joint selection as one of the year's most fascinating people, chosen over the likes of many others, like Dasani -- the homeless girl in New York City recently profiled by The New York Times.
As the "Most Fascinating People" special comes to a close, ABC may be looking to Robin Roberts to take over the reins as host of another year-in-review show called "The Year" -- a new special, slated to air Thursday night, in which Roberts looks back at the year's biggest news stories.
I suppose the question then becomes: Will Hillary will get the sympathetic Barbara-treatment from Roberts, too?
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