THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
MICHAEL BARONE, TUCKER CARLSON,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND RICHARD LAMBERT
TAPED FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 1998
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 20-21, 1998
TRANSCRIPT BY: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
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ANNOUNCER: From the nation's capital, the McLaughlin Group, an unrehearsed program presenting inside opinions and forecasts on major issues of the day. "GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group. From plastics to power generation, GE: We bring good things to life."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Beijing super summit.
Next Wednesday at noon, President Clinton boards Air Force One and heads for China. It has been nine years since a U.S. president last visited the Middle Kingdom.
The president goes first to Sian, an ancient city, to meet and greet Chinese villagers, and to rest.
On Friday night Clinton travels 600 miles northeast to Beijing. And on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. -- 10:00 p.m. Friday in Washington -- the commander in chief goes to Tiananmen Square, followed by two more days in Beijing, then on to Shanghai, Guilin, and Hong Kong.
In China President Clinton will have the greatest global audience of any statesman in the history of the world. It is a momentous opportunity. The summit will almost certainly determine in great part how history will judge his legacy, especially because of the bomb. Every word he utters will count, and he cannot afford a misstep, like the serial apologies in Africa, whether he speaks at the plaza, the Great Hall of the People, Beijing University, or anywhere else.
Question: What advice do you give President Clinton on his public remarks while in China, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think he's got to be bold when he's in China. He's already made enough concessions, with having an eight-day trip all in one country, which originally was not planned that way. He's got to go out there in Tiananmen Square and talk about liberty. He's got to go -- when he's going to church on Sunday, he's got to make reference to religious persecution and perhaps 30 million home church people. And he's got that great TV audience, hopefully, at Beijing University, where he can echo Ronald Reagan -- and skip the apologies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the great, huge TV audience within China itself.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he should flatter his hosts, which is going to be easy; it's the fastest growing economy in the world, and China's going to be one of the two most important countries in the next century. And then he's got to confront the differences between the U.S. and China, principally religious expression and human rights. And I think he's got to find a way to do that where he's not simply playing to the cameras back here. But he's got to do it in a constrictive way, and that's going to be a delicate dance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Richard? Don't you think you want to tone down some of Michael's very strong admonitions as to what the president should say?
MR. LAMBERT: Well, I think that the president has a very strong hand to play, and he should play it. I think he should be clear and forthright on human rights, particularly --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In public?
MR. LAMBERT: In public.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. LAMBERT: He has the authority. The Chinese need this trip to succeed as much as he does. They want it to succeed domestically, for political reasons. There is a very delicate economic balance, both short-term and long-term, now in China. He can play to that.
He needs to set out a road map to them, which says: "This is the way to get normal relations with us. These are the economic steps you need to take; these are the broader civil-liberties steps you need to take.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But these are Asiatic government officials, and they believe in elite talking to elite behind closed doors. Don't you think that is the place where he should do his (word inaudible) remonstration and his scolding?
MR. LAMBERT: I was talking to our Shanghai correspondent this morning. He said they expect -- in Beijing -- our Beijing office was saying -- they're expecting public announcements on human rights. They'll be surprised if it doesn't come. I am sure he must do that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you don't think he should do that in Tiananmen Square?
MR. LAMBERT: He's not actually going to be in Tiananmen Square. He is just going to be around the corner, I think. He is going to be in front of the Great Hall of the People --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the White House Press Office is saying he is going to be at the square and (that ?) he has no remarks on his schedule.
MR. LAMBERT: Beijing University is where he is going to make --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's when he is going to make his remarks on human rights?
MR. LAMBERT: That'll be the one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What advice do you give him?
MR. CARLSON: "Take the opportunity, when you're in Tiananmen Square, to make a bold symbolic statement." Look; sure he is speaking directly to the leaders of China, but he is also speaking to the world. And I think he is far too timid to do it, but I think he could make a really aggressive -- a case for why China needs to change immediately.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. He is not afraid to confront this issue. When the Chinese president was in this country; when he was standing right next to him, the president said, "China is on the wrong side of history." He might well repeat those words. But he doesn't have to rub it in their face, either.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well, I take a different -- I take a different --
MR. BARONE (?): Eleanor is right about that. I think you're wrong when you -- you've got it upside down. If he doesn't speak boldly in public, his private conversations, when we talk about the strategic interests we have in common and in which we differ, he is going to be very weak there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let me tell you the way it should be done, all right? (Chuckles.)
Number one, he should not kowtow. Number two, he should not break the china. He should refer to the nature of the United States as a democracy, talk about our freedoms without reference to China and let the lesson be drawn implicitly. But what about the press? What about the press that is accompanying him?
MS. CLIFT: Well, all I -- remember, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should he refer to the press that is accompanying him?
MS. CLIFT: John, you were --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what I am getting at?
MR. LAMBERT: I know what you're getting at -- freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. There is going to be a huge number of press there. Correct? Why doesn't he call upon the Chinese cameras, as a matter of fact, to focus on the press?
MS. CLIFT: No. No, John, you are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let me see if I can make it clearer for you. Okay, freedom of the press: The White House press corps en masse is a sight to behold; a ragged, crumpled, undisciplined army of irregulars looking like ill-disguised anarchists. Irregulars who are not respectful of the commander in chief or of their hosts, but are beholden to unseen gods in a plethora of newspapers, radio and television stations.
Clinton should tell the Chinese that this brigade of irregulars are the shock troops of our system, and it is they, this seeming rabble, who ultimately take care of human rights, religious freedom, corruption, and political excess in a democratic country. Clinton should encourage the Chinese media to turn their cameras on our cameras. They are, themselves, an extraordinary statement. So says Llewellyn King.
Question: Is Llewellyn on to something, I ask you, Richard Lambert?
MR. LAMBERT: No, this is where you're right about Asia being different. There's no tradition of free press outside India and Thailand in the whole region, and to expect China to do things which its neighboring countries, which are part of the OECD -- (word inaudible) -- they will not do it. They --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm surprised as you -- at you. Coming from the British empire, so to speak, you ought to be the first person to -- with that BBC over there, to laud freedom of ideas. And by focusing on the media, you invite the Chinese people who will be viewing this to say, "Hey, this is an idea that -- whose time has come for us."
MR. LAMBERT: But if your idea is that you, John, should be dropped into Beijing and allowed to speak in the way you do here, it won't happen. It's just not on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I know that -- but freedom of the press is the dynamic, the engine of all the other freedoms.
MR. BARONE: I mean, there are countries -- I mean, India, it was commonplace for women, for widows to be set afire. Just because a country has an authoritarian tradition doesn't mean that it can't be trumped by a tradition of freedom.
MR. CARLSON: So, since the Chinese have manipulated their press over time, we can certainly try to do that, John. I don't think it's very successful. I think we should be pointing to things like the 30 million people in home churches, the condition of Tibet and so forth and bringing that to the attention of the world.
MS. CLIFT: The president will --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you think China is going to give up Tibet, you're dreaming. You're absolutely dreaming.
MR. CARLSON: I think that we ought to be making a strong point about the repression of human rights in Tibet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Publicly?
MR. CARLSON: Publicly. Whether it's going to be successful or not.
MS. CLIFT: But Clinton'll --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'll tell you, I disagree with you. I think he should -- I think he should not break the China. He has one objective over there, that's national security, and what he wants to do is reduce the number of nuclear warheads there and here and maybe persuade India and Pakistan to do it. Not that he can try to get China to broker any deal between India and Pakistan. That's absurd. They have no brokerage position. They're identified with Pakistan. But he might be able to do something with the bomb. National security, not trading, as a primary objective.
MS. CLIFT: Have you taken a job with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, or is this the old speechwriter from the Nixon years? Did you advance his trip?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
That's a good question; what would Richard Nixon be trying to accomplish on this trip? I'm sure it would be in terms of national security right now.
MS. CLIFT: Resurrection. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. On a diplomacy grading scale, how will Clinton score on his trip to China? A, flawless; B, excellent; C, fair; D, substandard; E, passing; F, flunk. I ask you, Michael.
MR. BARONE: I think he's going to get a B. I think he's going to do pretty well over there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: B.
MR. BARONE: I certainly hope so.
MS. CLIFT: It's going to be between B and A.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: B and A. That's flawless and excellent.
MS. CLIFT: Between flawless and excellent, right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. LAMBERT: I would think fair. I don't think at the end of this, the world will be all that much different.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't.
What do you think?
MR. CARLTON: Fair through great effort.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fair through great effort.
I would say under these circumstances he's really quite good, and I would give him not a flawless but an excellent.
When we come back, is Steve Brill shooting bullets, or is Steve Brill shooting blanks?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two, Brill on the grill.
BARBARA COMSTOCK (Investigative Counsel, House Government Reform and Oversight Committee): (From videotape.) Steven Brill is going to look to serious journalism what Bill Ginsburg was to lawyering and what Louise Woodward is to babysitting. I mean, this is not a serious piece of journalism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what a congressional investigator thinks of Brill's Content -- an ironic misnomer, by the way, for a magazine. In its premier issue cover story, under the byline of Steven Brill, the article's central thesis is that the Lewinsky saga has careened from one badly-sourced scoop to another in an ever more desperate need to feed a multimedia 24-hour appetite.
Brill throughout sees the press this way: "An enabler of Starr's abusive power." Pretty tough, huh? Well, just listen to what the press principals have to say about Brill and his 24,000-word tract.
"Utterly garbage." "Fundamentally dishonest." "Slimy." Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff.
"I don't know if he misunderstood my words or was twisting them." Time managing editor Walter Isaacson (sp).
"Damage me and other fine reporters, but it is Brill's reputation that is most deeply stained by it." Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt.
"Complete and total hogwash." NBC reporter David Bloom.
"Mischaracterizations, faulty conclusions, faulty assumptions." ABC reporter Jackie Judd.
"Brill's article reads like a tract from the Unabomber -- intelligent, something important to say, and completely loony." Jonah Goldberg (sp), New York Post op-ed contributor.
Jonah Goldberg (sp), by the way, says that he told Brill, quote, "It would have made sense for my mom to have talked to Matt Drudge, but she didn't," end quote.
Brill reports that Goldberg statement as, quote, "It would have made sense for my mom to have talked to Matt Drudge," period, end of Goldberg quote.
Question: Is Brill's article serious journalism, Tucker Carlson?
MR. CARLSON: Well, I mean, the press corps has spoken; of course not. It's not even close. It's ridiculous. Here's a piece about the Monica Lewinsky story that doesn't mention the Linda Tripp talking points.
I think the more interesting story here, though, is the fact that Mr. Brill didn't even take notes, apparently, in his conversation with Ken Starr. The whole magazine is boring. It's like a series of rewritten New Republic pieces from the '80s. There's nothing interesting --
MS. CLIFT: Come on --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Any new disclosure?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. CARLSON: There is not one single piece, other than Steve Brill, smart man though he is, turns out to be a terrible journalist. That's news, I think.
MS. CLIFT: Come on, come on! Steve Brill got Ken Starr to admit on the record that he'd been leaking to reporters. Now obviously the media knew that, but Ken Starr had been denying that all along.
MR. CARLSON: It was in the Washington Post --
MS. CLIFT: Let's give that to him. And secondly --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Michael -- Michael, was that what he got Ken Starr to admit?
MR. BARONE: Well, what he -- the -- I think what was really faulty here was the central claim of his case against Ken Starr, which is that he says Ken Starr violated Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure against divulging, quote, "matters occurring before the grand jury," closed quote.
I read Brill's 24,000-word article. I read Ken Starr's 19-page reply. I think Starr's got a very strong case here. I think there's really no serious evidence that Starr violated Rule 6(e) or the Justice Department guidelines for dealing with that.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.) Well, he's on --
MR. BARONE: And I think, in fact, Ken Starr has proceeded very -- a steely way, under great pressure, has really shown a determination under pressure here that's amazing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What point do you want to make in this conversation, Richard?
MR. LAMBERT: (What you have of concern ?), John, is -- (laughter) -- and you're thinking as somebody that's here -- is that all journalists are mad and paranoid, and they spend their entire day mocking and criticizing other people. But the second anybody says anything faintly rude about them, they go bananas.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. LAMBERT: And this is what we're seeing now. It was a very long, rather boring article which didn't say too much, but it did make its case --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the Brill article?
MR. LAMBERT: The Brill article, yes. It made the case that journalism reached a peak at Watergate, and it's turned -- (inaudible due to cross talk).
MS. CLIFT: It's character -- character building.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Eleanor, I want you to focus your remarks on what I'm going to put on the screen now. There are three slides, and they were put out by the Center for Media in Public Affairs: Dr. Robert Richter (sp), president, Linda Richter (sp), his wife, another doctor, co-director -- people of extremely high repute in this regard.
And they point out that the Clinton references in the actual coverage by the media from January 1 to April the 30th, 1998 -- I'm sorry that's not on the screen, that's the period we're talking about, January 1 to April 30th, 1998 -- the three major network evening news programs. Clinton, 44 percent positive, 56 percent negative; Starr, 26 percent positive, 74 percent negative. And note this on the screen: 89 percent of sources quoted in all stories were negative to Starr.
MS. CLIFT: Well, that's a nonsensical comparison. The president is governing the country; he's putting out child care initiatives, he's worrying abut NATO, and those are counted as positive sources. So, I mean, I think that's a ridiculous comparison.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (To Mr. Barone.) Do you think it's ridiculous, of 561 Clinton scandal stories, that they come up with a conclusion that Starr has extremely high negative ratings by the press, which goes totally contrary to the broad proposition of Brill. You follow me?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think that's right, John, I mean, but the fact is there's a number of reasons for this. Number one, the press corps is 90 percent Democratic, that has some effect on coverage, but there's not usually much explicit advocacy.
MS. CLIFT: Not on the show, Michael!
MR. BARONE: Secondly, you've got the fact that Ken Starr really, for the most part, can't speak for himself in the way that President Clinton and other people can -- he is limited.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he has spoken for himself on background, which we have learned.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Brill's benevolence: journalists are also critical of Brill's claim to impartiality since he has been such a big political donor over the past six years. The two Democratic candidates for president and vice president, Clinton-Gore in '96, received $2,000 from Mr. and Mrs. Brill. Also, eight candidates for the House and Senate, all Democrats, benefited from Steven Brill's largesse, reports indicate.
The partisan nature of Brill's giving is particularly evident, say observers, in the case of New York Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato. In D'Amato's '92 reelection bid, Brill contributed $1,200 to the only candidate eligible to unseat D'Amato, Democrat Bob Abram (sp). So far, during D'Amato's '98 reelection bid, Brill has contributed $2,000 to the campaign of Mark Green (sp) and $2,000 to Chuck Schumer, both of whom hope to win this September's Democratic primary to face D'Amato in November and, hopefully, dethrone him. Another FEC filing is required June 30th, when journalists may learn whether or not Brill has contributed to Geraldine Ferraro.
Brill has given over $10,000 to Democrats over the past six years, and zero dollars to Republicans. Since it is practically unheard of for journalists to give political money, even Howard Kurtz, reigning media watchdog, who is expected to write for Brill, says that Brill, quote, "has undercut his credibility," unquote, by not disclosing political dollars. Others add that, besides the practice of donating political money, all Brill's money went to Democrats.
Question: Are Brill's political contributions objectionable?
MR. CARLSON: They are very -- I mean, look, it's always embarrassing when people give money to Bill Clinton, under any circumstance. (Laughter.) But I think the real objection here --
MS. CLIFT: There went your credibility. (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE (?): That's right.
MR. CARLSON: But hold on -- (cross talk) -- but hold on -- but I think the real objection --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. CARLSON: Slow down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, wait a minute.
MR. CARLSON: The real objection here is not the fact that Mr. Brill may be a partisan or ideological. That's fine. There is a lot of good ideological journalism out there. The point is he is not a good reporter. He didn't take accurate notes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, I want -- now, wait. Let me get to a very fundamental question: Do you know of any journalist who has made a political-money contribution to any candidate at any level?
MR. CARLSON: No, I do not. And I am --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's bad practice?
MR. CARLSON: Yes, I do. And I am trying to be expansively fair. And I feel sorry for him.
MS. CLIFT: Now, wait a second.
MR. CARLSON: Again, he gave money to Bill Clinton. I mean, come on.
MS. CLIFT: Well, come on. (Disclosure ?) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The reports that I have seen, from the FEC, indicate that no active journalist has given a contribution to any candidate. And I think any person who pretends to be a journalist stays away from that.
MS. CLIFT: Wait a second. Wait a second.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree?
MR. BARONE: (Laughs.)
MR. LAMBERT: I think it's unwise. And I think it is unwise if -- because Brill has said -- I am a big Brill fan; I am pro-Brill -- but I think to set yourself up, as he has done in a rather sanctimonious way, to say he is better than thou, is a mistake.
MS. CLIFT: (Right ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You see, Eleanor, you have to understand that money gives you --
MS. CLIFT: He could have (solved ?) -- let me speak! Let me speak! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- money gives you a stake in it.
MS. CLIFT: He should have disclosed it. It was stupid not to disclose it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, it's beyond disclosure.
MS. CLIFT: But he is not -- wait a second --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't give money --
MS. CLIFT: -- he is not merely a journalist. He is also a publisher. And look at the other people who own networks, who publish various things. Rupert Murdoch gives lots of money. Does that mean the journalism he puts out is tainted?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that -- do you think --
MS. CLIFT: No, it doesn't. (Cross talk.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a distinction without a difference in the case of Brill?
MR. BARONE: Look. Look -- John, basically, my view is that we journalists have a good dodge here. When our friends come to us saying, "We'd like to get political contributions" -- I have got some law-school classmates of both parties, who are fine people, who I might very well contribute to, but, "Hey, I am a journalist, and I don't do it."
No. The fact is there is such a thing as good partisan journalism --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. (Inaudible) -- (and disclosure ?) --
MR. BARONE: The problem is that Brill, as he admitted himself, should have disclosed this; hence, his journalism wasn't that good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To what extent has Brill hurt himself and his magazine?
MR. CARLSON: It's very embarrassing to put his name on it. I'd think he'd want someone else's name on it. I read it. I think he set himself on fire, and he will never be doused.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?
MR. CARLSON: He has set himself on fire and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's recoverable?
MR. CARLSON: I don't think so. I think he's made a -- his magazine will --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's permanent injury?
MR. CARLSON: I've read it, and I can tell you it's ridiculous and -- it made me cringe.
MS. CLIFT: You know, that's name calling. He put his magazine on the map. The country is interested in a magazine --
MR. CARLSON: (Chuckles.) Name calling!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, well, that may be true --
MS. CLIFT: -- that takes the lid off the media. And it's a good beginning for a magazine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was certainly a brilliant -- it was a brilliant piece of commercial PR --
MR. LAMBERT: Here we are talking about this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but where is journalism?
MR. LAMBERT: Well, where is journalism? I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughing) Where is the journalism here?
MS. CLIFT: Where is the journalism? My goodness, who are we to talk about -- (laughs) --
MR. BARONE: Well, this journalism is somewhere on the left --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you think this was a joke, what he put out?
MR. BARONE: No, I don't -- I think that it wasn't very good journalism. There's a place for good partisan journalism, and I hope this Content magazine --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is recoverable? Is he recoverable?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. LAMBERT: Absolutely.
MR. BARONE: Yeah, there is a always the possibility of recovery, and I hope Content recovers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit. Multiple choice on the merits. Is Brill's shot at the press: (A) a fair shot and on target; (B) a fair shot, but off target; (C) a cheap shot, but on target; (D) a cheap shot and off target; (E) a misfire -- Brill's shooting blanks; (F) a backfire -- Brill's shooting himself.
Michael Barone? And by the way, viewers can answer this question, the same question, fundamentally, on the Web.
MR. BARONE: Well, would you repeat that? No. (Laughter.) John, the fact -- I think it's B, which as I recall, is a fair shot, but off target.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A fair shot, but off target.
MR. BARONE: Yep.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Fair shot, but flawed. And the media is always going to squirm when the spotlight gets turned on it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they should, because our freedom is fundamental --
MS. CLIFT: It's character -- sure. Nobody's taking away our freedom.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and perhaps the most fundamental and important of all the freedoms.
MS. CLIFT: Nobody is taking away our freedom.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?
MR. LAMBERT: I think it's a fair shot. I don't know whether it's on target or --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A fair shot?
MR. LAMBERT: I think it's a fair shot.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have any investment in the Brill publication? (Laughs.)
MR. LAMBERT: I see what Brill did to the legal profession; he turned them upside down, and I thought that was a good thing to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, really!
MR. LAMBERT: Now let him turn the press upside down and take that on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In what publication?
MR. LAMBERT: In American (Law ?) --
MS. CLIFT: Legal Times --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know. There are those who think that Brill was following the money there, and most of those articles in that publication were showcasing legal firms. You know --
MR. BARONE: I think that's a little unfair, John.
MR. LAMBERT: I think that's unfair -- (off mike) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, you've renovated your quarters on Connecticut Avenue, look at this lovely firm.
MR. LAMBERT: No, no, no.
MR. CARLSON: Look, more damning than this --
MR. LAMBERT: He told how much money these people were making.
MR. BARONE: I think that's wrong about -- (off mike). I think you're wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know. I've heard that.
MR. BARONE: It's a good publication.
MR. LAMBERT: And he's also hired some real talents --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've heard that. Now maybe since the newspaper has left his hands, that has happened.
MR. LAMBERT: No, no, you're wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes?
MR. CARLSON: The magazine has the one unforgivable quality: cliches. This is self-inflicted wound from which he'll never recover.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Self-inflicted wound. That means backfire.
I think misfire. I think this time Mr. Brill was shooting blanks.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, predictions.
MR. BARONE: Conservative party wins the election in Colombia, ousting the drug-connected government this weekend.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the nation of Colombia?
MR. BARONE: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: China will agree to de-target its missiles subsequent to the summit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Richard?
MR. LAMBERT: Japan still hasn't got the plots; more trouble for the yen in the next few weeks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. CARLSON: Cacheris and Stein negotiate a deal with Starr over Monica Lewinsky soon, very --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And? And?
MS. CLIFT: That's your prediction! (Chuckles.)
MR. CARLSON: And? That's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And CNN will be forced to retract its story accusing the United States military of using sarin nerve gas during the Vietnam War.
Next week: Clinton begins his trip to China. We wish the president well and Godspeed. Happy Father's Day! Bye-bye!
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Fathers know best.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) I am convinced, along with so many of you, that the single most promising approach for improving our society, our world, and our lives in the next century is doing whatever we can to help men become better fathers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fathers in America -- they're still taking a beating. TV and films routinely portray fathers as bumblers, deadbeats, buffoons. Witness Homer Simpson, Al Bundy of "Married, with Children," Tim Taylor of "Home Improvement," who must be taught each week by his wife and kids how to be a father. In films, "Father's Day," "Liar, Liar," "Face/Off," and the recent "Hope Floats" come to mind as bad father models. Today it's popular to believe that to make a family, you no longer need a father.
Yet, paradoxically, the importance of fathers, particularly in the development of children, is now strikingly apparent. And Washington, besides the vice president, is taking notice. In Congress, $2 billion for state programs to promote fatherhood has been proposed.
Why this focus on fathers? Fathers promote growth. The mere presence of a father will improve fetal and infant development, notably perception. Fathers prevent delinquency. Even in high crime areas, 90 percent of children with two parents in a stable home do not become delinquents.
Fathers too few: Half of all U.S. children born today will spend half of their childhood without a father.
Question: Should the federal government spend tax dollars to create better fathers? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I love the fact that this is a Republican advancing this. Since when have the Republicans become the party of social engineering? Which is what I guess this is about. If the money is used to provide economic opportunity, I'm all for it. But if it's a way to have sort of parenting classes, they ought to do that in the high schools and not spend public dollars when people are grown up.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we all in agreement that fathers today are regarded culturally as either superfluous, absent --
MS. CLIFT: No.
MCLAUGHLIN: -- or somehow dangerous? Are we?
MR. BARONE: I think that's true, I mean in sort of a general, nonspecific way in the culture, but I think -- you know, I think most people still --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's it due to, Tucker? Would it have anything to do with the women's liberation movement?
MR. CARLSON: Well, I think it has everything --
MS. CLIFT: Women haven't driven men away.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. You said --
MR. CARLSON: Eleanor, I think you're proving the point right now. Please, come on, now.
MS. CLIFT: Women have not driven men away. They would love them to get in their share.
MR. CARLSON: You scare me, Eleanor. Come on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From your vantage point, from wherever you go -- you travel a lot, and you're a mystery man, in man senses, you're all over the planet -- but do you gather from your crow's nest that men in America today, because of the women's movement, have come to be regarded as almost insemination instruments and kind of superfluous, after that rather superfluous?
MR. LAMBERT: Absolutely not. It has never crossed my mind. I sit around here and I hear much -- the discussions one hears here about the role of the father, the role of the mother, are actually much more sophisticated, much more -- (inaudible word). In Europe, this isn't a particular issue. It's something very American even to be having this conversation. I thought this whole Father's Day business was an invention of the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The degradation of fatherhood in Europe is not comparable to the degradation of fatherhood here. Do you want to speak to that?
MR. BARONE: John, you know, 20 years ago some of the feminists had a bumper sticker, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." I think the feminists have come a long way since then and have a much more sensible view, for the most part. And the fact is we see that not having a father and a family really does, very likely, produce devastating consequences for kids. It is a real problem. It's a social problem. I think if we -- you know, we had a social program that promotes --