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 Magazine Watch

Wednesday July 7, 1999 (Vol. One; No. 6)

Falling Hard for Hillary; Time’s Soap Opera Digest; Gore’s Glass House Gaffe

1. Reporters are falling hard for Hillary. In a U.S. News & World Report cover story on the First Partner, reporter Roger Simon discovered the liberation of an unselfish helpmate: "The nation might have enjoyed a ‘Me’ decade, but Hillary Clinton never had the luxury. Since she was 26 years old, she has known only the Him Decade." The magazine also carried the first national media mention of race-baiting Rev. Al Sharpton at the White House ceremony for the New York Yankees.

2. More Hillary hype: Newsweek compared the 2000 New York Senate race to the Lincoln-Douglas Senate campaign of 1858. A Time essayist boasted "Bill Clinton may be merely the prequel, the President of lesser moment -- except, so to speak, as the horse she rode in on."

3. Time plumbed the depths of a Clinton-Gore feud: "To students of royal families, all the signs of marital strain are there."

4. In the "Washington Whispers" section, U.S. News & World Report revealed another Gore gaffe: While he talks the talk of equal pay for equal work, his own office budget doesn’t walk the walk.

For their July 12 issues, U.S. News & News Report touted Hillary Rodham Clinton "On Her Own," Time featured an Andrew Ferguson cover story on "Sports Crazed Kids," and Newsweek went ethnic with "Latin USA." Time and Newsweek echoed each other on drugs: both featured pieces on AIDS protesters scorching Al Gore over African attempts to repeal AIDS drug patents, and both scorned late ‘60s LSD guru Timothy Leary, now revealed as an "FBI snitch."


Reporters are falling hard for Hillary. In the U.S. News cover story on the First Partner, reporter Roger Simon discovered the liberation of an unselfish helpmate: "The nation might have enjoyed a ‘Me’ decade, but Hillary Clinton never had the luxury. Since she was 26 years old, she has known only the Him Decade. Not any more." Simon stroked the old standby that Hillary inspires a "deep visceral" dislike from some, and charitably noted: "Nor is all the dislike irrational or personal. There are those who make the argument that aside from his personal peccadilloes (which were considerable) many, if not most, of the really bad decisions in Clinton's career have Hillary's fingerprints all over them: Whitewater, Travelgate, commodities trading, and the health care debacle. In other words, you don't have to be part of a vast right-wing conspiracy to be against Hillary Clinton."

Then, Simon threw charity out the window: "And it seems a certainty that a New York Senate race will be savage, serving up her past on the news each night like stale leftovers. Hillary's chief rival, Republican New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, combines the political instincts of a knife fighter with all the restraint of a 4-year-old."

Simon found that the Monica Lewinsky scandal gave Hillary real power, that by shedding her feminist image for a more comfortable victim’s role, she must strike while the er, iron is hot: "Some people accept their pain, others fight it, but the politically savvy exploit it. And if Hillary is going to put the agony known as Monica to some use, she has to do it before the public turns the channel to the next scandal."

Reporter Franklin Foer surveyed the players around New York state, including Democrats that are optimistic (activist Bill Cunningham, who compared Giuliani to Ken Starr) and pessimistic (consultant Hank Sheinkopf said she can’t win). But Foer was the first national reporter to notice Hillary’s choice of White House hangers-on: "The First Lady was feting her new favorite team, the World Series-winning Yankees. And there, prominently on the White House lawn, was the Rev. Al Sharpton, mugging for photos with Bronx Bombers. For New York Jews, who recall Sharpton's incendiary stance during the Crown Heights riots, it was enough to provoke apoplexy. Telephone lines soon burned with angry activists spreading the word of Sharpton's invite. One Jewish Democratic loyalist later lamented, ‘I am not sure she gets it.’"

U.S. News columnist Michael Barone broke the usual pro-Hillary mold, noting Mrs. Clinton has a pattern of making rules, and breaking rules: "When Rodham was chairman, Legal Services [Corporation] affiliates brought lawsuits to force New York's Transit Authority to hire heroin users and to require racial quotas in school suspensions in Newburgh, N.Y. The LSC broke its own rules by organizing campaigns against a state referendum and against Ronald Reagan...In 1980, when her husband was under attack for raising license-plate fees, it turned out Rodham had not bothered to pay hers in 1977 and 1978. It is a straight line from here to the illegally secret health care task force meetings and the Rose Law Firm billing records, out of sight for months and then found in the White House family quarters. The pattern is clear: rule making for others, rule breaking for herself."


The other magazines joined in on the Hillary hype. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and Debra Rosenberg began with a historical flourish: "More likely, this will prove to be the most dramatic race for the U.S. Senate since Abraham Lincoln lost to Stephen A. Douglas in Illinois in 1858 -- or at least since Robert F. Kennedy, another candidate savaged as a carpetbagger, beat Kenneth Keating in New York in 1964." But they devoted most of the space to exploring how the Republicans could splinter into pieces and usher Hillary to victory. Near the end, they add a familiar dollop of scandal fatigue: "While her skin is thicker now, Mrs. Clinton's longstanding habits of defensiveness may be hard to break. To prepare, campaign advisers have quizzed former White House staffers about which old scandals could come back to haunt her. There are plenty -- from firings in the White House travel office to the missing billing records. The good news for the Clinton camp is that most New York voters don't seem to care about any of it -- as long as she keeps her cool."

Time essayist Lance Morrow touted Hillary’s impending victory in an essay entitled "Don't Cry for Me, Oneonta." Morrow boldly declared: "But it comes to me that with the Clintons, like it or not -- and I do not, much -- we are in the middle of a primal American saga and the important part is yet to come. Bill Clinton may be merely the prequel, the President of lesser moment -- except, so to speak, as the horse she rode in on."

Morrow handicapped the race, expecting Mayor Rudy Giuliani to be his own worst enemy: "With his combed-over death's-head countenance, his bullying instincts and his bizarre lack of self-awareness (he seems to entertain an idea he might be President), Giuliani makes a perfect heavy. If he gets rough with Hillary, it will backfire so violently that she will pick up 10% of the vote on sympathy." As for the press, the notion of a tough media ride is "nonsense...Its famous brutality is mostly saloon bragging by tabloid drunks on their 10th beer."

Lewinsky is her trump card, Morrow maintained: "She gains shine from the contrast and, at deeper levels of our psychology, accrues a fascinating power (the power of hardened martyrdom) from her stolid -- not to say classy and somewhat mysterious -- endurance of the lout's squalors. True to his grandiloquent form, Morrow concluded: "I think I see a sort of Celtic mist forming around Hillary as a new archetype (somewhere between Eleanor and Evita, transcending both) at a moment when the civilization pivots, at last, decisively -- perhaps for the first time since the advent of Christian patriarchy two millenniums ago -- toward Woman."

Neither Morrow nor Simon analyzed how much of the months of Hillary’s alleged agony over Lewinsky were caused by her own desire to give Starr nothing and draw the scandal out.


Time plumbed the depths of a Clinton-Gore feud. In this week’s installment of What Liberal Reporters Are Talking About, Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy and reporter Karen Tumulty worried about internal feuding between Bill and Al. Their warm feelings for both first surface at a ceremony Gore missed, announcing a projected trillion-dollar addition to the estimated federal surplus, the credit for which the Time scribes lay squarely at the President’s feet: "How can he [Gore] share in Clinton's public successes when he's been busy denouncing the President's personal failings, staking his claim as a family man and promising to protect the dignity of the office? The stories about a Clinton-Gore feud have been circulating for more than two weeks, to the point that the President had to spend the better part of his press conference last week denying them. To students of royal families, all the signs of marital strain are there. The couple manage to make a pretty picture when together in public, but they are together less and less. Away from each other, they are unable to do anything but complain about their mate. Whether they patch it back together, and quickly, could go a long way toward determining who will be the next President -- or at least the Democratic nominee."

Duffy and Tumulty found Gore too blabby: "Gore made the first move during his announcement tour 2 1/2 weeks ago, when he seemed so enthusiastic about calling Clinton's conduct in the Monica Lewinsky scandal ‘inexcusable’ to one interviewer after another. The President, at dinners with friends, insisted he was not upset by what Gore had said about the Monica matter, only a little sore that he had said it so much." For his part Clinton is bad-mouthing Al’s campaign skills: "He has even, among friends, employed the ultimate put-down, saying Gore is running like a Vice President, and a first-term one at that."

Like good Democrats, Duffy and Tumulty concluded by scolding the two into the fold: "A few more rounds of soap-opera politics won't do any of them any good, which is why Clinton is likely to be very disciplined in his public comments in the months to come. And in private, the rift can be mended. Clinton has plenty of practice at making amends. All Al has to do is make Bill his campaign manager and the marriage might be saved."


In the "Washington Whispers" section, U.S. News revealed another Gore gaffe: while he talks the talk of equal pay for equal work, his own office budget doesn’t walk the walk. "Back in the good old days when the equal rights amendment was the feminist battle cry, supporters used to wear buttons declaring the disparity in pay between the sexes. In his 2000 presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore is reviving that fight. ‘It's a disgrace,’ he says of the wage inequity. But there's a problem. Payroll records obtained by Whispers reveal a slight pay gap in the veep's own office. The records show that for every $1 earned by a guy, a woman makes 86 cents. And there's even a difference between those doing the same job. Female ‘staff assistants’ make 93 cents for every dollar pulled down by the guys. But that's nothing compared with the President's aides: the average salary for women is $49,500, compared with $62,600 for men."

Gore must duck the same discrimination boomerang that Time tossed in 1990. In a special Fall edition, writer Janice Castro groused: "Twenty years after women entered the professional ranks in significant numbers, very few have broken through the middle ranks of management to the top jobs." But Time’s 1990 masthead showed none of the top 17 positions listed were held by women. Check an issue now: there’s one female name in the top 16.

-- Tim Graham


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