Notable Quotables - 07/01/1996


Vote for Clinton: He's Not Venal, Just Incompetent

"Leon Panetta's explanation is plausible to me only because back then, in 1993, there was mistake after mistake like this. And the reasons usually were incompetence rather than venality."
- NPR White House reporter Mara Liasson discussing Filegate on CNN's Late Edition, June 9.

"They are the White House and there was a legitimate reason for them to try to get their files in order. They made a mistake, or this guy who was a military attache whose job it was to try to put this in order made a mistake. When it was found out that he made a mistake, apologies were made."
- Washington Post reporter Juan Williams on CNN's Capital Gang, June 9.

"I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt right now...I really believe this was a case of general incompetence....Does this matter? I guess the real question is, beyond an opportunity for the Republicans to have hearings and to sort of drag out a Whitewater- type escapade once again, does this really matter?"
- Los Angeles Times Washington reporter Sam Fulwood, June 15 Inside Washington.

"I think this is one especially that's going to backfire. There were not files turned over; there were summary reports of background checks. These were not files of top Republican operatives, the way the stories first suggested, but alphabetical lists of people who had access to the White House. If they look at what actually happened, they'll find out there's nothing there."
- New York Daily News columnist (and former Washington Bureau Chief) Lars-Erik Nelson in The Hill newspaper, June 19.

"Hate radio and innuendo is going to put Mrs. Clinton at the center of this, and for a party like the Republican Party that has this huge gender gap, targeting the First Lady on every one of these issues is not going to be effective politics."
- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the June 22 McLaughlin Group, reacting to the charge that Hillary Clinton protected Craig Livingstone.

"The administration has adopted an it-was-an-innocent- blunder defense on Filegate, and it makes sense: This White House inspires a presumption of incompetence."
- U.S. News & World Report Assistant Managing Editor Gloria Borger, July 1 issue.


Filegate? How Dare Republicans Mention It

"The politics of Campaign '96 are getting very ugly, very early. Today Bob Dole accused the White House of using the FBI to wage war against its political enemies, and if that sounds like another political scandal, that's the point."
- NBC anchor Brian Williams on the FBI files, June 8 Nightly News.

"For a year and a half, the Republican-controlled Congress has been bent on holding one hearing after another, investigating the Clinton White House. This provides them fodder for yet another."
- CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson on the FBI files, June 9 CBS Evening News.


Wiping Away the Whitewater Report

"These two dueling reports, the Democrats are real hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. And the Republicans come, I think, very close to McCarthyism. They raise the idea of suspicious circumstances, to almost just an assumption of guilt."
- NPR reporter Nina Totenberg on Inside Washington, June 22.

Whitewater Hearing Cleared The Clintons, Democrats Say
- New York Times, June 19


Hillary's Psychic Friends Network, Media Division

"Inevitably, Hillary's solarium seances will be mockingly compared to Nancy Reagan's astrology...Still, the joking is bound to exaggerate the depths of the First Lady's psychic revelation. As [book author Bob] Woodward's account makes clear, Mrs. Clinton was only imagining what it would be like to talk with Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi, not literally trying to `channel' the spirits of the dead. A long-time searcher for spiritual meaning, Mrs. Clinton had conjured conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt before she met Dr. Houston. Mrs. Clinton is not even the first First Lady to dabble with psychics or mediums: the wives of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, John Tyler, Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding all tried, in one way or another, to communicate beyond the grave. Unlike Nancy Reagan, Hillary never tried to use psychic powers to influence her husband.... "And to many women, Hillary Clinton is not a cold-eyed conspirator but a martyr. Last week, 1,200 professional women clambered into a $250,000 fundraiser for the Democratic Party in Boston to see Hillary speak. Women teetered on high heels standing on precarious plastic folding chairs to catch a glimpse of the First Lady as she worked the crowd. Is there anything to Whitewater? `Noooo, she's just being bashed by the press,' said Joan McGrath, a retired telephone worker. Why? `A lot of people don't like a strong woman.' To voters like McGrath, Hillary looks just the way she does to her philosopher friend, Dr. Houston - as a Joan of Arc figure, persecuted for her righteous crusade."
- Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas, July 1 issue.

"Such role-playing conversations are traditional counseling techniques, and Ms. Houston describes Mrs. Clinton as beleaguered, in pain, and seeking help...The unwritten subtext here, of course, is that even here at the end of the 20th century there is a political price to be paid for those in public life who seek help for their private problems."
- ABC reporter Jim Wooten, June 24 World News Tonight.

"Though somewhat of an embarrassment, some believe this psychic cloud may have a silver lining. It could soften Hillary Rodham Clinton's image as a behind-the-scenes power player by revealing a vulnerability few ever see."
- CNN reporter Kathleen Koch concluding a June 23 The World Today story.


Two Roberts Family Tributes to Clinton

"That's what the Republicans did when they had the White House. They misused the FBI. The same way the Democrats to some extent misused the power on the Hill when they had it when they investigated all of those Reagan appointees and it was the Republicans who were screaming `No guilt by association! No guilt by association!' Now the Republicans are misusing their power. That report this week, Whitewater report, was so filled with `might have beens' and `could have beens' and `should have beens.' They weren't able to connect the dots except with these long loops. But that's what you do when you have the control of these institutions. Both sides do it and both sides do it. Both sides do it!"
- U.S. News & World Report Senior Writer Steven Roberts on the Fox Morning News, June 20.

"This has been a very clever thing that the Clinton campaign has done on everything from '92, which is to say A, it's old news, and B, it's politically motivated. And to be very aggressive - and you've got to give them credit - to be very aggressive in going after the people who are reporting it or the people who are leaking it, so there's a backing off."
- ABC's Cokie Roberts on Whitewater, June 18 Charlie Rose on PBS.


Scorching Talk Radio

"Why are there so many church burnings in South Carolina? Some people say it's racism. Some that it's evil, or the violence from talk radio, or the insecurity over jobs. But many people say it's the flag."
- ABC reporter Deborah Amos on Nightline, June 12.


Living in Hillary's Parallel Universe

"Most reporters who covered Bill Clinton were of his generation, identified with him, had a lot of the same experiences, were about his age, and they were harder on him. It's the coach's son. You're just so worried that you're going to give him favorable treatment that it goes the other way."
- Chicago Tribune Washington reporter Elaine Povich to the Radio- Television News Directors Association, on C-SPAN June 14.


- L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham, Editors - Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen, James Forbes, Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters; Media Analysts - Kathleen Ruff, Circulation Manager; Jessica Anderson, Diane Lewis, Jonathan Stuart, Andrea Wilson, Interns