Notable Quotables - 02/09/1998


Media Phase One: Campaign for Clinton

monica1.jpg (15447 bytes)"The group of people I'll call The Press by which I mean several dozen political journalists of my acquaintance, many of whom the Buchanan administration may someday round up on suspicion of having Democratic or even liberal sympathies was of one mind as the seasons first primary campaign shuddered toward its finish. I asked each of them, one after another, this question: If you were a New Hampshire Democrat, whom would you vote for? The answer was always the same; and the answer was always Clinton. In this group, in my experience, such unanimity is unprecedented....

"Almost none is due to calculations about Clinton being 'electable'...and none at all is due to belief in Clinton's denials in the Flowers business, because no one believes these denials. No, the real reason members of The Press like Clinton is simple, and surprisingly uncynical: they think he would make a very good, perhaps a great, President. Several told me they were convinced that Clinton is the most talented presidential candidate they have ever encountered, JFK included."
New Republic Senior Editor Hendrik Hertzberg, March 9, 1992 issue.

"I must say I was struck by the expanse of their chests. They may have to put out their stats."
Newsweeks Eleanor Clift on Clinton and Gore, CNNs Inside Politics, July 10, 1992.

"They got more positive coverage on this bus tour than the Beatles got on their first tour of America. More reporters were oohing and aahing. It was almost embarrassing. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to do it until now."
Newsweek reporter Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, July 25, 1992.


Media Phase Two: Ignore Paula Jones

"Afterward...reporters conferred with each other to try to figure out whether what theyd just seen was 'a story' and...whether anybody was going to report it. The consensus was that if CNN carried it the networks would carry it, which meant The New York Times might carry it, in which case it would be a big story....Clinton is also the best President we've had in a long time. That is the unspoken reason the sex charges haven't received as much play as you might expect. Reporters are patriots, too; its their dirty little secret...Few journalists want to see the President crippled now that he is making some progress in cracking large, intractable domestic problems."
Mickey Kaus describing media reaction to Paula Jones announcing her suit against President Clinton, March 7, 1994 New Republic.

"Why didn't we put it on earlier? It didn't seem, I think to most people, entirely relevant to what was going on at the time. These are the kinds of charges raised about the President before. They had been played out in the Gennifer Flowers episode. The American public had made a kind of decision about his personal conduct and whether it had relevance in his personal life. And it seemed at that time it didn't have the news weight."
Tom Brokaw on the CNBC show Tim Russert on May 9, 1994, after Jones filed her suit.

"Are we in an era of government by Geraldo? Have we created an atmosphere where no one with any interesting aspects of their past is going to want to get involved in politics? Are we going to look back on this time 100 years from now the way we look back on Salem?...We're going to wind up with government by goody-goodies, government by people who have done nothing in their life except walk the straight and narrow, who have no creative thoughts. We're going to look back on this 100 years from now and say we drove some of our best people out of politics. In the 20th century, having an interesting sexual history is a leading indicator of success in the presidency."
Newsweek Senior Editor Joe Klein on Face the Nation, May 8, 1994.


Media Phase Three: Disparage Paula Jones

"Yes, the case is being fomented by right-wing nuts, and yes, she is not a very credible witness, and it's really not a law case at all...some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks...I think she's a dubious witness, I really do."
Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, May 7, 1994.

"I think at least the American people are more likely to believe the President than they are to believe, you know, someone without a job, from Arkansas, whose lawyer says she's not in it for money, but clearly she's in it for something fame, celebrity, money, something. And she's aligned with right-wing groups, which also draws it into question...[Anita Hill] brought her charges to the Senate Judiciary Committee after being asked to, and very quietly. There wasn't, she wasn't going before a left-wing group in a press conference."
Time columnist Margaret Carlson on CNNs Capital Gang, May 7, 1994

"Sam, not trying to hurt the President? Did she say that with a straight face?"

"Why does anyone care what this woman has to say?"

"Bottom line, Sam. Is she not trying to capitalize on this, in effect to profit from impugning the President?"
Questions from Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson to Sam Donaldson about his Paula Jones interview to air on Prime Time Live, June 16, 1994.

"But [attorney Bob] Bennett says he has people coming out of the woodwork to discredit Jones and her story. He need look no further than Jones brother-in-law, Mark Brown...She went with one man and when she got there, she spotted another one. She goes right up to him, puts her leg between the legs of the other man and rubs herself up and down on him...Promiscuity? Good gosh. Her mother is fixing to get the shock of her life when Paula's life comes out...She went out and had herself a good time. I've seen her at the Red Lobster pinch men on the ass."
Newsweek Washington reporter Mark Hosenball, May 16, 1994.

"We've got an awful lot to talk about this week, including the sexual harassment suit against the President. Of course, in that one, its a little tough to figure out who's really being harassed."
Today co-host Bryant Gumbel, May 10, 1994.


Media Phase Four: Portray the Clintons as the Cleavers

"While George Bush-all whiteness-talks about 'family values', the Clintons demonstrate them by confessing to adultery."
Former Washington Post reporter and current Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal in The New Republic, February 17, 1992.

"She's ecumenical but prefers Italian and Mexican. The President fixes her eggs with jalapeno peppers on the weekends. One Christmas she served black beans and chili as part of a buffet. She carries Tabasco sauce wherever she goes....Valentines Day at the Red Sage restaurant. Even at a romantic outing, the President can be the date from hell, talking to everyone but the girl he brung....Finally alone, they have 'painted soup' and the lamb baked in herbed bread. They exchange gifts and touch each other more in two hours than the Bushes did in four years."
Time's Margaret Carlson writing a June, 1993 Vanity Fair profile of Hillary Clinton.

"At the very moment that her father is in the headlines for this sexual harassment suit by Paula Jones, and I think there's always an edge of surprise in our voices that Chelsea has turned out so well. And it's not just because she's in the White House, but because, well, look at all the criticism of her father and the character question. But I think this is another example that it's not the measure of a man, it's not the total measure of a man whether hes you know, quote 'caused pain in his marriage.' The children we give to the world are a better measure of that, and I think she's a great example that there's a side and there's a goodness to Clinton as a father that we don't accept when we see her." Time columnist Margaret Carlson in a June 5, 1997 Good Morning America segment on daughter Chelsea graduating from high school.

"In her Wednesday Commentary page column, Linda Bowles stated that President Clinton and his former campaign adviser Dick Morris both were 'guilty of callous unfaithfulness to their wives and children.' Neither man has admitted to being or been proven to have been unfaithful. The Tribune regrets the error." Chicago Tribune correction, September 5, 1996.


Media Phase Five: Denounce Troopergate Coverage

"The American Spectator broke the story...because they're a very right-wing ideological publication....What really happened was there was a conspiracy, in my opinion, by right-wingers, including some right-wing journalists, to press this newspaper [the Los Angeles Times] into running this story before it was ready to, trying to get it out, and so they spread the rumor all around town that I had threatened to resign if it did run...I know one of the guys who was spreading it: Brit Hume of ABC, who covers the White House, who writes for The American Spectator. I know there's another conservative journalist who covers the White House, Fred Barnes, who's on the editorial board of The American Spectator."
Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau Chief Jack Nelson on PBS' Washington Week in Review, December 24, 1993.

"Menacing undertones: The troopers are silenced for now, but Clinton's political enemies may be just regrouping. Arkansas attorney Cliff Jackson, who represents Perry and Patterson, circulated an 'open letter' to the President last week that, while couched as an apology for inflicting public pain, had menacing undertones. Referring to Clinton's 'casual willingness to deceive,' Jackson warned darkly that the presidency is at stake if Clinton doesnt change his 'fundamental nature.'"
Newsweek reporter Eleanor Clift, January 10, 1994 story on Clinton reaction to troopers' sex allegations.

"One of my losers of the year is David Brock, who wrote that slimy magazine article that revived all those charges about Bill Clintons personal behavior, and I regarded that as journalism which is truly out of bounds."
PBS Washington Week in Review moderator Paul Duke, December 31, 1993.


Media Phase Six: Express Disappointment

"Those who identified with many of the domestic, and some of the foreign, policies of the Clinton agenda made a Faustian bargain. We overlooked Mr. Clintons past indiscretions he was hardly the first politician with testosterone overload on the condition that he pursue his agenda and postpone his next dalliance until after he left the White House. But he broke the bargain. I knew he was a charming rogue with an appealing agenda, but I didn't think he was a reckless idiot with an appealing agenda."
Former New York Times reporter Thomas Friedman in a January 27 Times column.


Media Phase Seven: Worry About Overcoverage

"We know from just answering the phone around here that the amount of attention we are giving this story is, at the very least, debatable. We in the news, as you can see [video of TV broadcasts], are devoting major time and resources to these events, but have we been carried away, are we doing too much and are we not being fair?"
Peter Jennings on the Janaury 23 World News Tonight, two days after the story broke.

"There is something about this story, this presidency, that has led the media to almost obliterate the standards of decency that were built up for so many years."
Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz on CNN's January 28 special Media Madness?

"The drumbeat of accusations in Washington registers as a dull thud here....What these five baby boomers judged Clinton on last night were his plans to rescue Social Security and help education, presidential visions of the future rather than the frenzied melodrama of the past."
NBC's Roger O'Neil on reaction in Eagle, Colorado to the State of the Union address, January 28 Nightly News.


Media Phase Eight: Help Hillary's Agenda

"What is it about your husband, Mrs. Clinton, that seems to make him a lightning rod for these types of allegations?....You've also talked about your husbands generosity and his warmth, and his, you know, his warmth with people even, you know, people he hardly knows."
Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to Hillary Clinton, January 28.

"It's difficult to ask another woman about those questions, you know, its a hard conversation to have to have and I think she handled it, as she always does, with great skill. She is a very good politician and she wanted to talk about the President's agenda and she manages to do that and, you know, to her credit, talk about things that really do matter in terms of the country and the world."
McRee after the interview.


Media Phase Nine: Discredit the Investigator

"Scott, as you and I both know, a popular move these days is to make a titillating charge and then have the media create the frenzy. Given Kenneth Starr's track record, should we suspect that he's trying to do with innuendo that which he has been unable to do with evidence?"
Bryant Gumbel to CBS News reporter Scott Pelley, January 21 Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel.

"But Starr's single-mindedness in pursuit of the Clintons has raised questions about his own propriety. A lot of them are being put out there, of course, by the President's die-hard defenders, notably by way of Hillary Clinton's charge that the independent counsel is a tool of the right wing talk that Starr calls, simply, nonsense. But you don't have to be a conspiracy buff to have trouble with how the Whitewater investigation ended up focused on the President's pants. Or to feel that, whatever turns out to be true about Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Starr's own methods are not always easy to stomach. Going after the President's sex life, wiring Linda Tripp to secretly tape Lewinsky, trying to persuade Lewinsky to tape Clinton are those the actions of a conscientious prosecutor or a political hit man?"
Time magazine reporters Richard Lacayo and Adam Cohen in the February 9 issue.

"President Clinton is doing a good job and it's unfortunate that he'll be overshadowed by these events. It's a shame for the country and him. Six hours into this thing the allegations went away and it's like hed done it. People are describing what's on the tapes as if they'd heard them. I blame Ken Starr."
Reid Collins Jr., Senior Producer for CBS News, in the January 25 Daily Record of Morris County, New Jersey.

"In Washington, the pendulum swings the other way. Confidence in the President now at an all-time high. The question: Did prosecutor Kenneth Starr make a rush to judgment?"
Tom Brokaw opening NBC Nightly News, January 30.


Media Phase Ten: Indulge Hillarys Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

"She [Hillary] is really convinced that the right wing is incredibly well-organized, and there is kind of a hate campaign going on in this country that is, is deeply and well-organized, and it poses a real threat to government and the Clinton's personally. And I mean, she may be right."
Newsweeks Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, August 13, 1994.

"Where does Lewinsky fit into this conspiracy theory? Is she victimizing the President or is she too a victim?"
Bryant Gumbel to James Carville, January 28 Public Eye on CBS.

"Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri, an astringent and abstemious conservative, lambasted his fellow Republicans for their 'sin by silence,' and others started talking as well. The White House loves the exposure for the other side: Starr, televangelist Jerry Falwell, Internet gossip columnist Matt Drudge and assorted Republicans, among them Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott. To Clintonites, it seemed a usefully geeky crowd. 'They resemble a crew out of The Addams Family,' one White House spin doctor said, happily, 'with names by Charles Dickens.'"
Washington reporter Howard Fineman in Newsweek, February 9.

"Hillary Clinton linked Starr to a conspiracy that has even suggested the President was involved in the murder of a former campaign worker....It is Starr's past and continuing connections with very conservative organizations and causes that have brought him into the cross hairs of the First Family. As their evidence they point to his very appointment as independent counsel by a three judge panel headed by Judge David Sentelle, who is a close ally of ultraconservative North Carolina Senators Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth...."
Correspondent Phil Jones on the CBS Evening News, January 27.

Enter Standby Mode: Say It All Disproves Any Liberal Bias

"I think we can now safely conclude that this whole notion that the liberal media elite is coddling Bill Clinton and always plays to the Democrats is absurd. I mean the fact is who's been the undoing of Bill Clinton: Newsweek and The Washington Post, those raging conservative publications..."
Former New York Times and U.S. News reporter Steve Roberts on CNN's Late Edition, February 1.


L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
Eric Darbe, Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen, Denise Froning, Steve Kaminski,
Clay Waters, Media Analysts; Rebecca Hinnershitz, Karen Sanjines, Interns
Kristina Sewell, Research Associate; Sherri Pascale, Circulation Manager