Cultural Revolutions

Fall Tour

President Clinton's fall tour of South America raised an important question: What has happened to the adversarial role of White House television journalists? ABC's John Donvan reported that the President's photo-op tour of Caracas left Venezuela glowing. He said the President was greeted warmly and that his speech was an overwhelming success. There was a sound bite of President Clinton speaking in Spanish, "Todo esta chevare en Caracas" (sound of cheering). According to Donvan everybody there thought the President was "chevare," too. That's "terrific."

But that is not what really happened, according to many newspaper accounts. The Chicago Tribune headlined: "Clinton trade mission finding few friends." The article continued, "Despite Clinton's efforts the crowd that gathered for the speech was small . . . did not come close to filling the plaza." How close is not close? The Washington Post said, "a crowd of about 2,000 people was polite. . . . The capital's famed Plaza El Pantheon was two-thirds empty. This was far from the ecstatic popular outpouring the White House aides had predicted would greet the president on his first visit to South America."

So rather than the enthusiastic greeting described on the network news, the speech was a disappointment. The TV news screen showing the speech was a shot so...

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