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?


Thank you for the enlightening overview of the Clinton presidency. Of course, time constraints prevented you from going deeper. It's possible that political constraints might also have been a factor. Is it possible that, in the current conservative climate, the people in charge of ABC and PBS are afraid to explore the truth?

The program focused on the scandals. The real scandal is that Bill Clinton was hounded for eight years by people who wanted to tear him down just because he was a Democrat in the White House. He was the most investigated president in our nation's history and the only charge that could be brought against him was that he had a dalliance with a former intern and didn't want anyone to know about it. Yes, Bill Clinton committed a sin. But the greater sins were committed by those who distracted him from doing the work he was elected to do.

Bill Clinton came from truly humble beginnings to become President of the United States. He never had a real father to guide him, and he was inspired by John F. Kennedy, which would explain his sexual indescretions. That was his Achilles heal. I think that historians will regard Bill Clinton respectfully.

Austin Jernigan
Austin, Texas


There was a lot of accurate reporting, but there was also an absence of any real discussion about how people feel about Clinton personally, how he made people feel. It is not the record that you laid out that we will most remember, but it is his personal qualities, his inclusiveness, the sense that his heart is genuine and caring that will mean the most to us, that he was on the side of those who most need a helping hand, that it wasn't political~it was genuine.

I feel that your report reflects what the media has missed all along, has not understood and has sadly ignored. You did not mention the great affection and respect that he has in other countries also. They will miss him as much as we will. You did not mention Ireland, a great achievement. Ireland knows what he did and honors him, yet you clearly did not value this accomplishment enough. You gave an inordinate amount of time to Dick Morris. Egads! Why?

If you watched Clinton speak at the MLK Holiday observance in DC and saw the deep affection and respect for him within the Black community you would get a clue. Why? It's that quality that you have missed, along with the more hateful and less careful media. In sum, I was disappointed even though I did not find myself in great disagreement over many of the discussions and content but you really don't *get* Clinton.

Irene Heinstein
El Cerrito, CA


I felt that the two hour review of the Clinton Years was a white wash of one of the worst Presidents that we have ever had in the White House. Although you did bring out the obstruction of justice and the abuse of office, your story left out the chronology of many of the events that occurred during his term of office. There was no mention of Travelgate, Filegate, campaign finance irregularities, or the compromising of our nation's security.

Jane Bright


I am a Frontline regular and I have always valued your programs. This one, however, was trash--completely one-sided and seeming to be from the viewpoint of a tunnel-visioned presshound, i.e. too much time and focus spent on sensational stories that have nothing to do with his job as President such as Monica Lewinsky & Jennifer Flowers and almost nothing on much more important and complex issues like foreign policy and the economy .

From an economic point-of-view, Clinton was fabulous. I have just read Robert Rubin's interview to see what he said and his views correspond closely to mine. Why did you not spend more time on some of Clinton's fantastic achievements such as the handling of the Asian Crisis, the Mexican peso crisis, etc? If these economic crises had not been handled as well much more damage would have been done to this country than any Monica Lewisky scandal ever could. Ditto for Clinton's fabulous successes in Ireland and Kosovo. A very bad, very incomplete report from Frontline I hope the last.

Adeline Wu


I have long admired the work of Frontline-often telling all of my acquaintances to watch every piece that you produce. Sadly, I hope none of my friends chose tonight to watch Frontline for the first time. I say this because "The Clinton Years" utterly lacked the unique insight and intelligence that I expect from Frontline. Perhaps this piece looked and sounded just like network coverage because that is where the content came from. There was no new information, rather, it was the same self-congratulatory narrative that purports to tie complex events into a neat, simplistic message that the networks thrive on.

An uninformed viewer would likely walk away from this piece thinking that the government and the nation spent 8 years discussing and caring about little more that the sexual dalliances our President. That impression may be true of the mainstream media, but I assure you that it is not true of most Americans. We elected Clinton twice and polls show he could have won a third term, had that been an option because we agreed with many of his policy positions and admired many of his accomplishments at home and abroad.

Please keep doing the excellent, informative and intelligent journalism Frontline is known for. And, if in the future you determine that partnering with a network will provide you with valuable footage, look first to the Newshour, which is the best source of continual news coverage and insider perspectives in television news.

Emy Parker
Mercer Island, WA


You had all the elements of creating a really meaningful and insightful report but lacked one key element---integrity. Ironically, this was the very point that we were reminded of, ad nauseum, Clinton lacked as president.

I can only hope that the American people will recognize that FRONTLINE's report conveniently overlooked many of Clinton's real accomplishments and has proven itself as part of the inconsequencial yellow press that puts the sensational above substance.

David Edwards
Cambridge, MA


A detailed look back at the Clinton years and no mention of Juanita Broadrick? Have we forgotten that rape is a violent felony? Bill Clinton has been very credibly charged with rape, and since the economy is good we're supposed to look the other way?

The Juanita Broadrick story is a perfect window into how the Clinton's use and discard people. Bubba just tossing another spent beer can out of the back window of his El Camino as he bombs along the backroads of America-----be sure to crush it. Without the infamous blue dress, Monica Lewinsky would have been the victim of a vicious personal attack. For yet another reference, look at the legal bills the Billy Dale was left with after the travel office debacle.

The fact that the press, women's groups, and Democrats as a group can overlook a brutal rape for the good of the "cause" is an outrageous disgrace. This country was built on standing up for those that are not able to do so for themselves. Now we reference polls to see if people really care or not.

Hays Parks
Seattle, WA


I was deeply disappointed by your report on Clinton. This is a very partisan republican view on these years and I am surprised that such an imbalanced view was featured on PBS. You gave too much importance to interviews of frustrated former staff and internal scandals and little to the great political achievements of this administration. We are surprised that such a bad politician as you portrayed him was re-elected in 1996. You would have gained considerable credibility by interviewing representatives from foreign countries journalists for instance about how well regarded was this outgoing administration compared to the incoming Bush who is already ridiculed world-wide in the press.

Gaetan Brulotte
Tampa, FL


I was impressed with the Clinton Years, but I believe some of the good things that he has accomplished were not emphasized enough. Great economy, less people on welfare, Ireland success, getting Arafat to meet with the Israli government. Less was needed about how the press was reacting to the issues. If every President would stop thinking about how the press will react, they will get more done.

I would've liked to have seen a little more how he grew up from a small boy in Hope. I read Dee Dee Meyers interview, she said she had only received one letter from Clinton since she left office. I think, for some reason, she was snubbed by Mrs. Clinton for sure. Since Dee Dee was one of the first to go out in the field and really do the some of the hardest work in the earlier days along with George and others, it seems to me that the Clintons have not been very greatful for her and others. Do we tend to forget from whurst we came from? One person missing was his secretary. Maybe you folks can do some more things about the Clinton Years. Overall, I enjoyed it.

Linda Haddock


Thank you for the "Clinton Years". Your thoughtful balanced report gave viewers so much insight into detailed events, insider action and reacton that has shaped our last 8 years as a country. I cried this evening for what "could have been", for us as a nation, for our President and his family, and for the hope I had in our President, his goals, dreams and potential. I pray he once again finds his voice in his post-presidential years.

Joe Connolly
Gilbert, AZ


Thank you for the "Clinton Years". Your thoughtful balanced report gave viewers so much insight into detailed events, insider action and reacton that has shaped our last 8 years as a country. I cried this evening for what "could have been", for us as a nation, for our President and his family, and for the hope I had in our President, his goals, dreams and potential. I pray he once again finds his voice in his post-presidential years.

Joe Connolly
Gilbert, AZ


Having watched most all of Nightline's week long reflection I viewed tonights airing of the Frontline program on the Clinton Years with a high level of anticipation punctuated by some disappointment.

No doubt the two hour program was extremely well done and met the high standards of quality journalism that Frontline routinely sets and exceeds. My disapointment was with the contrasting differences between the Nightline portion and the Frontline portion.

I thought Nighline's take on the Clinton Years spoke more to the breadth of the Clinton Administration dealing with the scandalous flair-ups that marred Clinton's administration as well as the policy/political successes and challenges they faced. The series seemed to give "equal" weight to both in chronicalling the paradoxical nature of the Clinton Administration.

Frontline however focused, dissappointingly so, on the more sensational aspects of the administration. Heavier emphasis was put not only on the scandals, but also on a very cynical portrayal of the Clinton team strategy to dealing with scandal and the internal impact of both problem and solution. The political analysis of how Clinton and his team approached policy issues seemed to get much more scant attention ....

No doubt the report was enlightening and gave interesting insight to the various seemly operations of the Clinton Administration. I simply feel that it only presented half of the picture.

The combination of the two, the Nightline and Frontline programming, does do a compelling job of helping the viewer deal with what I think will indeed be the legacy of the Clinton Administration. George Stephanopoulus' I know I butchered that one dwells on the promise of the Clinton Administration and residue of disappointment that came from that promise not being fully actualized. That is the Clinton legacy. However, as he leaves office I think its important to recognize that even though that promise was not fully achieved, what was achieved, will still be looked back upon as truly noteworthy and perhaps just a touch below greatness. Yet again one cannot help but feel dissapointed to reflect on the achievements that were in light of the things that most certainly might have been.

Mike Maguire
Eagan, MN


Good program! I hope you will also consider another: I continue to be mystified as to why some segments of society and the political scene had such hatred for the Clintons from the beginning. This hatred seems to have motivated intense investigations beyond anything we've had in the past, well before the scandel of the President's second term.

I would greatly appreciate some analysis as to what political and social factors were underlying the Clinton opposition during his candidacy and first term.

William Kaemmerer
Edina, MN


I was disappointed that the Frontline reports dealt so much with the various scandals which have already received too much airtime; the report only touched briefly on the situation in the Middle East, while leaving out entirely Clinton's greatest achievement--sending George Mitchell to negotiate the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

Many Irish people think this agreement could not have taken place without Clinton's participation, and it's unthinkable that a news program of your calibre would go two hours without mentioning this part of his legacy.

Linda Coleman


How interesting. A President, on a campaign, during his second term, in pursuit of his historical legacy, getting decidedly mixed reviews concerning his presidency from those most loyal - Meyers, Reich, et al.

When President Clinton ponders his legacy, he need look no further than your excellent program and their comments, contained within, for the answers to those historical questions.

John K. Bayless
Harrisburg, Pa.

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