the clinton years

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photo of bill & hillaryWhat are your reactions to this report?  Looking back on the Clinton presidency, what are your thoughts and assessments?

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for airing the Clinton Years report. Though perhaps not "groundbreaking", the intimate look was extremely interesting and did cover alot of ground not usually shown. Everything was expertly crafted - the footage, the interviews, the editing, the segues, et cetera.

Very well done!

Jamie Self
Lakeland, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am hoping that it is my bias that finds your evalua-
tion of "The Clinton Presidency" distinctly slanted against Bill Clinton. From the phrases, "he claimed credit" to the great emphasis on Dick Morris, to the mostly derrogatory comments by the former members of his staff. I don't believe that ever in history has a president's privacy been so invaded by the necessity of the media to have something to put in the paper, on the airwaves or on TV and by just plain meaness in the politicians of the day.

That he was attacked persistently and viciously and withstood those attacks as well as he did must be recogized as strength. He is most certainly not the first president to lie to the American people. When the political dogs first sniffed the scent of a sexual scandal, the howling was near deafening for the next year. America could not hear the true business of the country over the noise of juicy morsels being thrown out by his enemies who cared only that they might bring him down and impeach him. They did not care about the effect on our country of such lack of respect for the office.

His sexual behavior had nothing whatever to do with the conduct of the office and if there had been, as there always was in our history, an implicit consideration by the news media, his sexual behavior would not have been described in detail for all the world to mull over.

Mavis Norton
Edmonds, Wa.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I thought your program was excellent. I was so completely engrossed that I fully expected to see an interview with the man himself at the end of the show.

The only thing I really thought was left out were interviews with members of the Republican opposition like Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole. They were such a part of the story the last 8 years that I was surprised they were left out.

Thanks again for an excellent job overall.


Robert Ruvkun
Seattle, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was deeply disappointed ... How Frontline has fallen from the days when it did innovative, independent documentaries. This report was the embodiment of Washington "conventional wisdom" so reflected in the profound disconnect between the Washington establishment and a far more understanding and forgiving public over the Lewinsky affair.

What a shallow report this was, following a myopic scandal storyline, as if the narrative had been written and everything was then dropped into place to bolster it, while discarding or ignoring the rest. Glossed over was the, yes, "vast right-wing conspiracy" -- the convergence of interests among the right and far-right to bring down the Clintons, and any background on the unscrupulous Ken Starr. No report on the Clinton years can begin to tell the full story without a clear recounting of his enemies and the lengths they went to try to destroy him
He has been the most inclusive president ever, and totally ignored in the two-hour telecast ws any discussion of people of color, or why blacks have adored Clinton like no other white leader in this country. Surely that deserved some mention!

mark sommer
buffalo, new york

Dear FRONTLINE,

You fooled me with the title of your program.

I thought the program would discuss the Clinton presidency and "legacy" inasmuch as a legacy can be discussed when the man is still in office, but you only discussed politics, and the working of the White House staff.

You did not offer true discussions of governance, diplomacy, platforms or philosophy. You did make passing references to health care reform, budget balancing and the NATO attack in Kosovo.

How is that an examination of the Clinton era?

I looked for an answer in the From the Editors piece and found this quote from Chris Bury: "The Clinton Years" is an attempt to examine... How does Clinton come back politically from one near-death experience after another?"

Ahh.

Frontline has chosen to focus in this program on celebrity politics, a charge I thought you were immune from. Perhaps it is due to the co-production with a for-profit network.

It is important that we understand Clinton's personal failings. I know of two that affected his office - fundraising and soft money legal but unethical and perjury/obstruction of justice definitely illegal - and I hold him accountable for those failings. But for your program to offer the political saga surrounding these failings as the "first look at the Clinton era" is misleading.

Next time you may want to include some ideas as well as gossip.

John Garrett
Oakland, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I thought the program was excellent. It gave me an insight of what happened and how it happened. During his 8-year presidency I tuned out most of the media soundbytes. I often felt distrustful and was not quite sure who had an ax to grind and who was truly reporting the facts. It was exhausting.

Watching frontline I felt the producers were non-partisan. One of the things I most appreciated was that the program showed the human dimension of the various participants. There was pain, laughter, fear, exhilaration, etc... The program did not focus on whether Clinton was right, wrong, moral, immoral, but rather, it was what it was.

Good job. I hope you rebroadcast the program.

Catalina Parada
Chicago, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

I personally don't see a problem with the last 8 years. I did not pick a president for his morals but for what he can to for the economy of this country and keeping the national defense strong. People will ultimately vote their pocket books when push-comes-to-shove. The 'Lewinski thing' was all 'politics' ...it was really a private thing between the president and his own family...it had no bearing at all on how he was running the country.

I would not want my daughter dating this president, but economically I do not think anyone could have done a better job of running this country in the last eight years.
"It's the economy, stupid !"

Jerry Wright
Morton, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

You piece on Clinton last night only went half way. I do admire you all for putting on the air the critical comments from his staff. The commercial networks lack the nerve to do such a thing. It would bruise their golden boy.

However, your show fell short. This rarely happens with your program. Generally you all pull no punches. Your show failed to show about 75% of the Clinton scandals. You forgot to talk about travel gate, the truth about White Water, yes, I know you all did a seperate show on that how many of his followers have shown up dead, the mutiple national security scandals over lost secrets, the dead Rangers in Somolia due to their lack of support, the timing of military actions to push his bad news off the front page, the fund raising scandels, the multiple staff people and supporters of his that have had to plea bargin themselves out of jail, how his administration has had a record number of investigations, how he shakes down the Indians for money in exchange for money, the Secretary Brown affair, the depletion of the military, his broken promises in the Balkens, the Juanita Broadrick rape, his other multiple girl fiends, and many more. Your show focused on things he had little input to, like the economy.

Thomas Magee
kansas city, mo

Dear FRONTLINE,

An interesting show. However, had hoped Frontline would follow up on the excellent start you had made in "The Fixers", especially noting all the recent effort to settle some of the campaign finance cases. Notably, James Riady's record $8mil.+ fine.

Still the public needs to be reminded of all of the connections to the Clintons which have now been convicted/fined, etc. The Lu's, John Huang, etc. How could you not tie this and Whitwater in, as that is where the Clinton Scandal I refuse to call it the "Lewinsky scandal"came to light.

Additionally, you gave Clinton way too much credit for the economic success. It's not only obvious, it's logical that the roaring 90's are a Conservative economic byproduct yes and fueled by the Tech Revolution. this is Mega-Merger led economywhich no true liberal would take credit for, and while in the end, Clinton did compromise with the 1994 conservative congress on the budget and on welfare reform, it was not to his liking and Al Gore was violently opposed to it..OK he let it happen, but should never take credit for it.

What he missed, was the oportunity to get the social security and medicare reform to the table while he had the consensus. He dropped the ball there, big time.

G. Hall
Los Angeles, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your insightful program. One of the most notable media snafus I have noted in these ongoing synopses however is that the "Lewinsky scandal" is relegated to that phrase, when in reality, the impeachment was the scandal and the reasons for same - obstruction of justice, perjury, etc. I don't care about the sex lives of other people except when it occurs on my doorstep - my White House- and the subsequent legal charges - which I hope will continue on and make him accountable for these actions. ...

Mr. Clinton will be relegated to history books and children - my grandchildren - will not care about what he did or didn't do - it will just be a name they will have to memorize by rote. And for that I am grateful. I hope I don't ever have to see him again except when the courts judge him guilty and he is sentenced to the same punishments ordinary people get. He did much worse than just have a little tryst in the White House. I am sickened by him and his wife and the thought that she may be in the White House someday makes me want to become a political activist. Good riddance.

... Keep on with your good work, PBS, and I will be watching to see if you change the name from "Lewinsky scandal or affair" to "Bill Clinton's crimes". I am hoping they will file charges on January 20 and he will have to account for his actions to ordinary people, not just to his million-dollared power mongers. Thank you.

beverly bunton
Mt. Pleasant, south carolina

Dear FRONTLINE,

I grow very tired of seeing the Clintons portrayed as brilliant but flawed, with the emphasis on brilliant. Your report was much too sympathetic to a couple who have displayed their overwhelming concern with self, not country. They are the most dishonest and deceitful pair I would ever hope to see in public life.

The damage that Bill Clinton has done to the institution of the Presidency and the lowering of the standards of decency in human affairs that they have brought to the country is reprehensible. That you would report on their sojourn with such empathy is why your requests for funding always fall on deaf ears in this household.

Michael James
New Cumberland, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

PBS is the island of intelligent television; NEWS HOUR and FRONTLINE provide insights and investigations not found on any other channel.

What happened Tuesday night was an embarassment to PBS. Smirking, self-promoting aides giving their impressions of Bill Clinton's personal life.

No mention of the Northern Ireland negotiations, or the Middle East, or Kostinica.

FRONTLINE owes its regular viewers an apology and another two hour presentation on the Clinton years, this time with the even-handedness and depth we expect from FRONTLINE.

David Story

Dear FRONTLINE,

Why is it that we finally hear the real truth about what the Clintons were really like? They have been and still are the most self-centered pair to ever live in the White House and the interviews by their most ardent supporters bore out what the mainstream media hid for 8 years. I watched and screamed at the TV as one by one, staff like Myers, Gergen, Carville, Reich, etc. all said what a sad couple this pair was and how this treated themselves and their closest "friends" and advisors. Why wasn't this information about them discussed by the press instead of being soft-peddled?? ARRRGGGHH!

Good riddance and we trust we won't have to hear from them ever -- unfortunately, though Mr. Clinton will undoubtedly never go into the woodwork.

Bob Brown
Greenwood, MO

Dear FRONTLINE,

You really missed the boat this time. Politicians and Media talk to each other, leaving the American people out of the discussion. Bill Clinton was the victim of political, law enforcement and media forces aligned and organized against him.

To reduce the "scandal" to a question of character is shortsighted and narrow and backs away from the truth in a way that is uncharacteristic for Frontline.

B. Souder

Dear FRONTLINE,

This was the most incisive and accurate look at the Clinton presidency, which was until now, historically ambiguos.

Ryan Osborne
Wahiawa, Hi.

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