- Contributing Editor of Newsweek Magazine
- Panelist on syndicated political TV show The McLaughlin Group
- Strong supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton
Eleanor Clift is a Contributing Editor for Newsweek Magazine, a longtime regular panelist on the syndicated political talk show The McLaughlin Group, and a Fox News contributor.
Clift was born in July 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Hofstra University for a year, then Hunter College in New York City, and then found work as a secretary.
"I got into journalism accidentally, you might say," Clift told one interviewer. "I started working for Newsweek in the 1960s as a secretary, and when the women's movement pressured the magazine to open up more jobs for women, I interned as a reporter."
Clift learned on the job for six years as a congressional and political correspondent for Newsweek. She was demoted to its Atlanta bureau just as Georgia Democratic Governor Jimmy Carter was beginning what would be his successful presidential run in 1976. Clift soon became Newsweek's White House correspondent, a position she held until 1985.
In 1985, Clift was named White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, but she returned to Newsweek the following year to report on the Iran-Contra scandal that dogged Republican President Ronald Reagan.
In 1992 Clift was part of Newsweek's team of reporters covering Arkansas Democratic Governor Bill Clinton's successful presidential campaign. In June 1992 she became Newsweek's deputy Washington bureau chief. She by then was appearing as a panelist on The McLaughlin Group, as she continues to do.
After watching Clift express leftwing views weekly on television, critics began to complain that her writing for Newsweek was slanted so heavily in favor of the Clintons that it was not objective reporting but opinion-editorializing. The conservative Media Research Center added to its annual prizes for media bias the Eleanor Clift Award "for Clinton Worshipping." Clift’s support for Hillary Rodham Clinton has been so palpable that critics nicknamed Clift "Eleanor Rodham Clift."
In 1994 Newsweek removed Clift as its deputy Washington bureau chief and named her a Contributing Editor, a title providing her the latitude to write opinion columns, be an outspoken partisan on national television, and also be part of the magazine's teams of reporters on a topic.
During the 1999 impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, Clift implied that Republican members of Congress were racists bent on lynching the Democrat President. "That herd of managers from the House," she said on The McLaughlin Group, "I mean frankly, all they were missing was white sheets. They're like night riders…." After Clinton stayed in office despite being impeached, Clift on the December 25, 1999 McLaughlin Group declared him her "Biggest Winner of the Year" and said that Clinton "remains a colossus on the world stage."
In 2000 the Clinton Administration sent a paramilitary team to Miami to seize six-year-old Elian Gonzalez, whose mother had died while escaping with her son from Communist Cuba, so the boy could be returned to Fidel Castro's island. Clift's response on the April 8, 2000 McLaughlin Group included the following thoughts: "To be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than being a poor child in Miami, and I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle so gratuitously."
On May 1, 2000, Clift was asked on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor to defend her claim that Elian Gonzalez might have a "better … lifestyle" in Communist Cuba's dictatorship than in the United States. "I can understand," said Clift, "why a rational, loving father can believe that his child will be protected in a state where he doesn't have to worry about going to school and being shot at, where drugs are not a big problem, where he has access to free medical care and where the literacy rate I believe is higher than this country's."
In December 2001 Clift defended the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, who was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "When he first went to Afghanistan, that was way before September 11," she said on Fox News Channel, and "there was no thought that he would be taking up arms against the American government." Clift said that not only was Walker not a traitor, but also that the U.S. should "sign him up for the CIA. I mean he's probably the only person who speaks Pashtun."
During a March 9, 2005 appearance on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, Clift likened the terrorist group Hezbollah to South Africa's Nelson Mandela. Hezbollah, she argued, "has evolved into a political party" which the U.S. will be forced to accomodate diplomatically. She further declared that at one time, former Israeli Prime Minister "Menachem Begin was considered a terrorist."
Clift has co-authored two books with her second husband Tom Brazaitis, Washington bureau chief for the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. These include War Without Bloodshed: The Art of Politics (1996), and Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling (2000). She also co-authored, with fellow editor Evan Thomas and the staff of Newsweek, the book Election 2004: How Bush Won and What You Can Expect in the Future (2005). Moreover, Clift wrote Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment (2003), a companion volume to the HBO original movie Iron Jawed Angels starring Hillary Swank and Anjelica Houston.