Hillary Clinton issued a call to action against the “epidemic” of fake news in a rare public appearance since her unexpected loss to Donald Trump.
The Democratic presidential nominee warned that the proliferation of false news stories online can have “real world consequences”, alluding to an incident over the weekend in which a man opened fire at Comet Ping Pong after reading a false news story that purported the DC pizzeria was harboring children as part of a sex ring led by Clinton. No one was injured.
“This is not about politics or partisanship,” Clinton said, during a tribute to departing Senate minority leader Harry Reid. “Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities.”
“It is a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly.”
Clinton was joined by Vice-President Joe Biden and congressional leaders of both parties to bid farewell to Reid, who leaves the chamber after 30 years in the Senate. When Clinton rose to speak, she received a standing ovation from the audience, which included lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
The former secretary of state has maintained a low profile since the election, enjoying hikes in the woods near her home in Chappaqua, New York. A number of locals have posted photos online of Clinton spotted on a hike.
“This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election,” she said. “But after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I thought it would be a good idea to come out.”
Most of Clinton’s speech was about Reid, the taciturn senator from Nevada who helped deliver the votes needed to pass President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.
“No matter how high he rose here in Washington, he never lost touch with the people and values he grew up with,” she said.
Biden, who delayed a trip to Canada where he was due to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to attend the event, spoke after Clinton.
“Every time I hear a dial tone, I think of Harry,” the vice-president began with a laugh, and was not the only person to remark on Reid’s tendency to hang up abruptly. He finished on a serious note.
“I love you, pal,” Biden said. “I know that embarrasses you, but I do.”
When it was Reid’s turn to speak at the podium, he thanked each of the speakers and several Senate colleagues and staff members in attendance. He thanked Clinton for being a “statesman”, paused, and continued: “or should I say statesman-woman, or whatever.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a portrait of Reid, who served as Senate majority leader from 2007-2015, was unveiled.
As the guests dispersed, Clinton walked the rope line as she had done for the 18 months on the campaign trail. When she finally reached the exit, she turned into a corridor where a group of young men and women were waiting. At the sight of a purple suit the crowd began cheering, and several young women broke into sobs.
Clinton, flanked by Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who was her running mate, walked over to greet the crowd.
“Thank you,” two young women repeated through sobs as she clasped their hands.
“Thank you,” she replied.