MediaWatch: September 7, 1998

Vol. Twelve No. 14

Hillary Reagan Clinton?

A&E "Investigative" Tribute

With a name like Investigative Reports, one might assume the Arts & Entertainment Channel’s report on Hillary Clinton would investigate Hillary scandals. Instead, host Bill Kurtis (once with CBS) treated viewers to "a search for the core of her values."

"Her story plays like a Greek drama: the quest for power, the intoxication of success, the labyrinth of personal and political intrigue," he began. "It’s about triumph and tragedy, it’s a love story set against a backdrop of war [clip of Ken Starr], fraught with the dangers of what the Greeks called hubris. It is a play not finished, yet its storyline captivates the world....In this edition of Investigative Reports, we focus on a main player in this drama and aim for a glimpse into the inner workings of perhaps the most influential woman of the last half-century."

Kurtis’s "investigation" took him to Hillary’s "village," as he referred to her hometown of Park Ridge, Illinois, and followed her as she celebrated her 50th birthday there in October 1997. In tracing her growing up into politics, Kurtis championed her commencement speech at Wellesley: "She gained national attention for supporting the right to student protest, in the process taking to task then-Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. As she met her husband-to-be and moved into public life, her politics continued to move unquestioningly to the center. Yet her moral compass, even 30 years later, has never really left Park Ridge."

Despite touching on liberal items like the ill-fated 1300-page health plan, Kurtis continued to praise the First Lady as somewhat conservative. "A blend of her conservative past and political present, Hillary Rodham Clinton defies the pigeonhole, and it would appear, that is just the way she likes it."

Citing her book It Takes a Village, Kurtis claimed Mrs. Clinton holds old-fashioned views: "That traditional view includes the subject of divorce. For the First Lady, simply put, divorce means failure...It's a distinct position, evocative of another time and place."

Kurtis ended the "investigation" with apprehension over whether in the end Hillary’s legacy will triumph: "A sense of nobility. As her days in the White House dwindle to a precious few, it provides, perhaps, a last refuge for this First Lady, her work in child care, education and women’s rights affording a safe harbor from the taint of scandal, and a glimmer of hope for her own political future. For now, the Clinton administration is a drama without a final act, but the elements are there for a suspenseful conclusion: the spreading stain of scandal, the politics of power, the weight of history. For Hillary Rodham Clinton, there is something else at stake: Is there enough time to put the legacy she wants together before the final act is written?"