Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan, Joanna Coles, joined senior media correspondent Brian Stelter to discuss if women’s magazines are favoring Hillary Clinton, if conservative commentators should worry about women’s magazines, and how women’s magazines cover women in leadership roles.
Reliable Sources airs Sundays, 11 a.m. to noon (ET).
Text highlights and a transcript from the show are available below. Credit all usage to “CNN’s Reliable Sources”
Coles on Cosmopolitan getting readers to the polls and letting voters decide how to vote: “We are very interested in the issues around politics and how they impact our readers, which is to say that we have many - millions of millennial readers… …our first priority is to get people to the polls. ...we really want to animate readers, go in and vote. …We leave it to them if they want to vote for Hillary. Would we like to see more female candidates running? Of course we would. I think the political system would be better off. It's really early in the campaign to say whether or not they would be better off with Hillary because we don't know all the candidates, and we haven't seen what Hillary stands for yet.”
Coles on if “liberal cheerleading” is a fair phrase to describe the point of view of women’s magazines: “Liberal cheerleading probably is (fair), because for the most part, young women's interests are better supported by liberal/Democrat candidates, but not all. And I do think it's too early in the process to say which candidate is best going to represent them.”
FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT:
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
Check this out. Campaign reporters sure did not appreciate this, because there will be no opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton. Her speech will be her interview. That's the blunt wording handed out to Clinton reporters who were attending her voting rights speech at Texas Southern University this week.
Now, the university regretted the wording. It became kind of a kerfuffle. But it was another reminder that Clinton hasn't really opened up to the press the way other presidential candidates have. She has answered questions a couple times, but she hasn't granted any formal interviews.
That prompted CNN's own Wolf Blitzer to vent his frustration a little bit in a futile request to the campaign's adviser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Joel Benenson is a senior adviser, a major strategist in the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Joel, we will stay in close touch with you. Thanks very much for joining us.
JOEL BENENSON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And please tell the secretary we're looking forward to a full-scale interview with her ASAP as well. Thanks very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: I thought that silence spoke volumes, you know?
Now, when Clinton does start giving interviews, might she seek out friendly forums, like maybe women's magazines? This recent piece in Politico asserted the Republicans are worried these magazines, with their millions and millions of readers, are - quote - "in the tank for Clinton."
Let's go right to the source on this one.
Joining me here on set is Joanna Coles, the acclaimed editor of Cosmopolitan magazine.
Joanna, take me inside the editorial meetings at your magazine, one the most important, powerful women's magazines in the whole country. Are you all taking more of an interest in the election this cycle, this time around than in the past because of Hillary Clinton?
JOANNA COLES, EDITOR IN CHIEF, COSMOPOLITAN: Well, first of all, I think anybody would find the editorial meetings at Cosmopolitan, where we discuss endless sex positions, extremely interesting, and may I say it might change things.
COLES: We are very interested in the issues around politics and how they impact our readers, which is to say that we have many - millions of millennial readers, and they're interested in how they pay off their student debts. They're interested in, are they going to get a job in this difficult economy?
STELTER: But also in the personalities, right?
COLES: Well, and they're also interested in, are they going to get great health care and do they have access to contraception and, God forbid, should they need it, can they have access to an abortion?
I think they're watching candidates that they feel will reflect their interests, as everybody does. But what's important about this election in particular is, there will be a lot of millennial voters, because there are so many of them, and a lot of them will be voting for the first time. And our first priority is to get people to the polls.
There is such lethargy around that. And we really want to animate readers, go in and vote. You don't have the right to complain about D.C., if you're not exercising your right to vote.
STELTER: You have a rooted interest in making sure they get to the polls.
COLES: We really do. I think we all do.
STELTER: Do you have a rooted interest in having them vote for Hillary Clinton?
COLES: We have a rooted interest in them being part of the political process.
We leave it to them if they want to vote for Hillary. Would we like to see more female candidates running? Of course we would. I think the political system would be better off. It's really early in the campaign to say whether or not they would be better off with Hillary because we don't know all the candidates, and we haven't seen what Hillary stands for yet.
This issue of whether women's magazines are tilted in favor of Hillary Clinton came up recently in Politico. Let me read a quote from the article by Hadas Gold. She said she reviewed several months of coverage and said, "Looks like readers will be getting a heavy dose of liberal cheerleading this campaign season, along with their skin care and makeup and fashion tips."
Liberal cheerleading, is that a fair phrase for some of the coverage from "Cosmo" and the other magazines in the category?
COLES: Liberal cheerleading probably is, because for the most part, young women's interests are better supported by liberal/Democrat candidates, but not all.
And I do think it's too early in the process to say which candidate is best going to represent them. We just did in the magazine a piece on all the female senators, so we interviewed 16 of the 20. And so, across party, and, actually, it was the most optimistic piece I had read about D.C. for a long time.
STELTER: Oh, really?
COLES: Because these were senators actually working across the House with each other. And it suddenly made you think, goodness, Washington is rather a functional place after all.
And also what happens is, because voters don't like it when women politicians brag about their achievements, they don't brag as much as the men. So, they don't always say I got this bill passed or I got this done, but they are actually furtively getting on with it.
STELTER: Let me show you one of the conservative comments about this issue of the women's magazines. This was from "FOX & Friends" last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton, as she moves into 2016, Laura, we're noting one of her new secret weapons, and it may just be the women's magazines.
Just you look at some of the past covers here and the coverage of the Clinton family in general, it kind of suggests that readers are going to be getting a heavy dose of liberal cheerleading, to say the least.
Their reach is 53 million, when you cull these publications together. "Glamour" has got 23 - 28 million for "Glamour" alone. "Cosmo" has a reach of 53 million, "Elle" 21 million.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's smart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're talking - that reach is strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So you can hear "FOX & Friends" kind of riffing off that Politico article.
COLES: Was that them reporting and them deciding?
COLES: I think it have might have been. I think it have might have been.
STELTER: Maybe it was. "FOX & Friends" very good at that sometimes.
COLES: They are indeed.
STELTER: But I wonder if some conservative commentators should be concerned about these women's magazines? Are they right to be talking about them?
COLES: Well, you heard them say the reach of "Cosmo" is 53 million. Women's magazines have enormous reach. And I think young women are very anxious about what's happening to the political process in Washington. And they do want to get involved.
STELTER: It's an example of candidates or politicians in general being able to go around what we would call the traditional media and reach people in different ways.
We talked a lot about going directly through the media, going to social media, having candidates speak on Twitter and Facebook. But they could also go to alternative media, so to speak. Maybe women's magazines are an example of that.
COLES: Well, I don't think of women's magazines with 53 million readers as being alternative.
I think it might be as big, if not slightly bigger, than the footprint of RELIABLE SOURCES, Brian.
COLES: But I do think what you're hinting at and what was reflected on "FOX & Friends" is that this is a really big audience that has been underserved by what I think is the mainstream media, i.e., news programs in the evening, which actually people are stopping watching.
STELTER: If there were a Republican female candidate leading the pack, so to speak, it sounds like you're saying Cosmopolitan would be on that beat, would be covering them quite a bit.
COLES: Yes, we absolutely would.
We're very interested in women in leadership roles. We cover a lot of women in business leadership roles. And we would love to be able to cover more women in politics. But, you know, there's less than 20 percent in Congress. There's only 20 out of 100 in the Senate, so we have a ways to go.
STELTER: Joanna, thanks for being here. Great talking with you.
COLES: It's my pleasure.