Before she appeared on the Steve Harvey Show last February, Hillary Clinton’s campaign received a memo from the show’s producers that allowed the Democratic presidential candidate’s staff to brief her on nearly every aspect of the interview.
“Steve is known to be a host who goes out of his way to make his guests feel comfortable,” wrote Clinton campaign spokeswoman Karen Finney and communications aide Betsaida Alcantara in a memo to Clinton sent a week ahead of her interview. “We coordinated closely with the show’s producers on the script and format of the show.”
The memo — obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and which was part of an email first given to the website DCLeaks.com — was sent to the Clinton campaign on February 17, a week before Clinton sat down with Harvey.
The document reveals how Clinton’s staff helped Harvey’s producers design the structure of the interview and select specific topics that the Democratic candidate would discuss. Issues including gun control policy, race relations, and Clinton’s preference of pizza crust were handpicked by the campaign.
The interview began with an audience member asking a question meant to tout Clinton as “expert” grandmother.
“Hi Steve. I’m a grandmother of 12 kids so by now I’m running out of fun things to do with them,” audience member Robin Rick was instructed to say to Harvey, according to the memo. “I’m looking for new ways to entertain them so I was wondering, since Marjorie is a grandmother like me what are some of her favorite things to do with your grandkids?”
As advised in the memo, Clinton was then introduced to the audience by Harvey. “You will enter the stage and assist Steve in Answering the question,” the memo reads. “At this point he will show the picture of you and President Clinton holding Charlotte for the first time.”
The memo acknowledges how the Clinton campaign believed Harvey’s show to be a politically safe space, where Clinton could easily attract the attention of female and African American voters.
Harvey was instructed to “field 2-3 questions on his own” while “the 3rd or 4th question would be outside his wheelhouse.”
“Please note that the tone of the show is generally light so even on policy questions, Steve won’t go too deep into details,” the memo said.
There was also a pre-package segment of the show that was meant to highlight Clinton’s personal life and her political achievements.
“During this segment Steve will take a trip down memory lane with YOU to talk about the different moments of YOUR life displayed in the photographs below,” the memo read.
From the Flint water crisis to crime and jobs, Clinton was briefed on topics that would be discussed during her interview.
Despite the sit-down being completely choreographed, Clinton feigned surprise throughout the interview. “Oh boy. Oh my goodness,” she said when Harvey showed a photo of Clinton at 12 years old, even though she apparently knew the picture would be shown.
“As happens with many shows like ours, producers conduct pre-interviews highlighting areas of interest and possible questions. This allows the guests to prepare for their appearance and provides the most informative experience for the viewers,” Harvey’s show said in a statement.
Clinton’s campaign has not yet commented on the memo.