| CLINTON'S SECOND TERM:|
January 15, 1997
December 23, 1996: A NewsHour panel of historians looks at historical second terms.
December 20, 1996: President Clinton announces the new cabinet members who will join him for his second term.
December 6, 1996: Perspective on foreign policy and second term presidents comes from a panel of historians.
And, a final question from the Online NewsHour staff:
William Neikirk, Chicago Tribune White House Correspondent responds:
The Chicago Tribune's coverage has been brilliant, hard-hitting, fair and thorough. I can't speak for the rest of the bums who cover the White House. But since you have tempted me with the question, I will say with more seriousness that I find most of my colleagues to be as well-intentioned as I am in trying to do a fair, complete job.
But it's a hard question to answer: In an age with so many media outlets, just what is the White House Press Corps and what is White House coverage any more? The filter is all but gone. McCurry's briefing is televised on C-Span and elsewhere. Spinmeisters like McCurry and Stephanopoulos have more air time than Brit Hume or Rita Braver. Lehrer gets the President to say that Starr is out to get him.
There's such an explosion of information and coverage about the White House in such a variety of places that it's hard to evaluate it. Some is harsh, some is kind, some is even-handed. Somehow, I trust that fairness and truth do prevail, though not always instantly. Clinton is said to be highly suspicious of the press and believes that many are out to get him. For the average reporter, if he did something wrong, and if there's a chance of a Pulitzer in it, look out, Mr. President. And I'm a print reporter who can't write as you might say on the air: "Whether the President is telling the truth or not remains to be seen, but his honesty has become a big issue here in the nation's capital."
Jonathan Peterson, Los Angeles Times White House Correspondent responds:
The news media has become so numerous and varied that it's unwise to generalize too much. But with that disclaimer, I'd say that many journalists were less than impressed with some of Clinton's early performance in office, and that came across in the coverage. For their part, the President and the First Lady, may have felt that some of the media coverage, particularly into aspects of their personal lives, was overly intrusive, tasteless and reflected an excessive desire to write negatively. Their relationship tended to be distant.
But from about 1995 on, Clinton seemed to find more solid footing in the White House, and the tone of the coverage has evolved somewhat. Potentially, relations could improve in the second term, but a lot of that is up to the President.
Jim Kuhnhenn, Kansas City Star Washington Bureau Chief responds:
As long as there are fundraising stories and Paula Jones stories to chase, Clinton will not be happy with the press. Anyone who believes the press treats the White House with kid gloves should listen in on a press briefing with White House spokesman Mike McCurry. The questions are tough and aggressive.
Conservative commentators can't understand how Clinton manages to dodge the bullet amid so much controversy. Frankly, many commentators wondered the same about President Reagan.
In fact, Clinton and Reagan are charismatic presidents. They are masterful politicians. How they are portrayed to the public has less to do with a sympathetic press than their own talents, charms and manipulations.