talks with journalism dean about politics, media and the global
30 January 2002
D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
and informal, Bill Clinton shared his thoughts on politics,
the media, the environment and his eight-year duel with the
American right in an on-stage conversation following his speech
at Zellerbach Hall on Tuesday.
why the right wing despises him so intensely, Clintons
answer was plain and simple: "Because I won.
really thought there would never again be a Democratic president,
that they had found a foolproof formula that would keep the
White House in their hands forever," the former president told
a capacity crowd. "But we got in anyway, so they spent eight
years trying to tear us down."
was interviewed by Journalism Dean Orville Schell, who asked
questions submitted in advance by the audience, in addition
to his own.
have to have a high threshold for pain in that job," Clinton
said of the presidency and of attacks leveled against him during
his term. "But its the most rewarding thing I ever did,
and I would do it again in a heart beat."
the two men sat in a mock "living room" on the Zellerbach stage
upholstered chairs on an oriental rug, set off by a vase
of orange tulips they also discussed the effects of industrialization
on global warming.
corporations believe they cant get richer without putting
more gases into the atmosphere, that its a choice between
being poor or being toast," Clinton said. For the situation
to improve, he said, the "link between environmental damage
and economic growth must be broken."
business can make profits and protect the environment,
Clinton asserted, citing the construction of energy-efficient
homes in San Diego, a joint project between his administration
and the National Homebuilders Association. The initial cost
to build these homes was higher than for traditional houses,
he said, but in the long run money was saved on energy costs,
while the environment was protected.
conversation shifted gears when Schell asked Clinton about the
state of todays media, a topic of keen interest to the
many journalism students in the audience.
really depends on which media and what issue," Clinton said.
"With regard to Sept. 11, I think the media has generally done
a good job at educating the public on the Taliban, terrorism
networks and the history and politics of Afghanistan."
the proliferation of print, web, and broadcast media has made
other issues more difficult for the press to handle, he added.
I was in college, there were just three networks, and for the
most part, they did balanced, thoughtful pieces," said Clinton.
"Now, by the time the evening news airs or the morning paper
comes out, the news has already been washed over 50 times. So
these organizations are required to spin it to make it worth
tight deadlines and multitude of competing news sources, reporters
often dont have time to do a good job, he said.
used to be that reporters really cared about being accurate
and fair," Clinton added. "Now, they dont have time to
said the media, particularly television, could greatly improve
the political process by offering free or reduced-cost air time
for political ads. Raising the millions of dollars needed for
television ads puts an undo hardship on incumbents, he said.
folks have to spend a lot of time fundraising so they can afford
to communicate their ideas and answer critics. And this is in
addition to all the work they must do as representatives," said
Clinton. "These people are exhausted, and it clouds their judgment.
We need to take this burden off their backs."
the conclusion of the conversation, an affable Clinton went
to the front of the stage to greet audience members.
then made a stop at Haas Pavilion, shaking hands with many who
had watched a video simulcast of the event on basketball arenas
coverage of former President Bill Clinton at UC Berkeley