Hillary Visits the Servants at NBC's Today

First Lady's Publicity Demands Eagerly Met In 16-Minute Shriver Soft-Toss Segment at Edison's Lab

Maria Shriver drew attention to her Tuesday morning Today interview of Hillary Clinton with a faux pas: she asked if they needed a cot in the Oval Office as the workaholic Thomas Edison had in his lab. But once again, the Today show awarded the First Lady whatever publicity she wanted with a 16-minute interview on Hillary's crusade to save national landmarks.

Shriver also asked: "I know the way you prepare when you go out to tackle something. So no doubt you probably read everything ever written about Thomas Edison, and since we're here in his library, what's the most interesting thing you came across in all your reading?" Here are some other Today genuflections:

April 2, 1992: Katie Couric talked about charges she'd be the "power behind the throne": "Do you think that those kinds of reactions, Ms. Clinton, are the product of just good old-fashioned sexism?"

July 20, 1992: Bryant Gumbel quizzed Hillary and Tipper Gore: "You two have surely seen the widespread speculation that one campaign isn't big enough for two women as strong-willed, independent-minded, outspoken as each of you are. You're laughing. How does that speculation strike you?"

August 24, 1992: Katie Couric taped a talk with Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Gore right after the GOP convention: "If you listen to Pat Buchanan, he talked about you, Mrs. Clinton. He talked about you in his speech before the Republican convention. I'd like to give you an opportunity to respond to those charges." And: "Do you think the American people are not ready for someone as accomplished and career-oriented as Hillary Clinton?"

May 10, 1995: Couric discussed mammograms with Hillary: "Republicans have said that as much as 400 million dollars must be cut from Medicare and Medicaid in order to balance the budget. Do you think that might imperil the kind of coverage older women may not know about, but actually have when it comes to mammograms?"

January 16, 1996: In between calling the book It Takes A Village "terrific" and "really terrific," Shriver submitted unctuous questions (see box), including: "You think government should do a lot more than it's doing in terms of making children a priority, doing things for kids. We're clearly living in an age when people are anti-government. How do you get across the message that we all need to see everybody's kids as our own, we need to have more programs, the government needs to be more involved?"

October 23, 1997: Couric read from Hillary's script on day care by inquiring: "It is clear that day care in this country is inaccessible to many, cost-prohibitive for others, substandard in many situations. What can the government actually do to alleviate some of these problems?"

January 27, 1998: In an anguished interview aimed at Monicagate damage control, Today offered Hillary the platform for her "vast right-wing conspiracy" charge. Matt Lauer asked: "If what the President has told the nation is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then you'd have to agree that this is the worst and most damaging smear of the twentieth century." NBC's morning crew hasn't been devoted to the truth, but to offering its time in elongated blocks for the First Lady's liberal spin. - Tim Graham