• U.S.

Notebook: Feb. 2, 1998

4 minute read
Kathleen Adams, Maryanne Murray Buechner, Jon Goldstein, Tam Gray, Anita Hamilton, Nadya Labi, Michele Orecklin and Alain L. Sanders



LEWIS & CLARK Lewinsky went from this small college to the White House. Not bad–depending on her next step

TED & DAVID KACZYNSKI Ted, thanks to a plea bargain, gets to live. And David doesn’t have to live with the guilt

VENUS & SERENA WILLIAMS The tennis phenoms prove they are both champs


PAULA & GENNIFER The only thing worse than being Today’s Sex Scandal is being Yesterday’s Sex Scandal

ARAFAT & NETANYAHU Neither had the full attention of the press and the public, if you know what we mean

CASTRO & THE POPE Was there an event going on in Cuba or something?


Much has been made of the similarities between the movie Wag the Dog (one of the stars: Robert De Niro, above, left) and the brouhaha in Washington (one of the stars: Vernon Jordan, above, right). But a comparison reveals that Tinseltown fantasy is far tamer than inside-the-Beltway reality.

MOVIE: Offscreen, President fondles “firefly girl” in back room of White House.

REAL LIFE: On tape, intern allegedly recounts tales of oral sex with President in back room of White House.

MOVIE: Events in Albania distract nation from scandal.

REAL LIFE: Scandal distracts nation from events in Cuba, Ireland and Iraq.

MOVIE: Mr. Political Fix-It (De Niro) is brought in to manage scandal.

REAL LIFE: Mr. Political Fix-It (Jordan) is accused of being part of scandal.

MOVIE: President makes it through crisis to happy ending.

REAL LIFE: Well, this ain’t Hollywood.


A scandal is nothing ’til somebody names it, and scandals make good TV. Upon news of the latest presidential indiscretion, the best minds in television spent fevered hours devising the slickest titles, graphics and theme music since Nightline’s America Held Hostage. To honor that distinguished crisis franchise, we’ve awarded one to five Khomeinis to each network:

ABC News Rating: [Three Khomeinis] Crisis in the White House is a little vague–there could be a war, a terrorist, or somebody may have forgotten to take Buddy for a walk. But the tight White House shot effectively evokes tension; ABC News’ theme music–do do dodo–feels a little tired. Paging Danny Elfman!

CNN Rating: [One Khomeini] You’d think the network that brought you the Gulf War could do better. Investigating is too mild a verb; it suggests a medical checkup. The gray border is monochromatic and nondescript, like something stamped on an official document or government-approved meat.

Fox News Rating: [Two Khomeinis] Would you expect anything less from Fox and Rupert Murdoch? No mention of Clinton, no mention of Whitewater, just sex and scandal, baby. This could be a promo for Dawson’s Creek, if that show weren’t on the WB.

NBC News Rating: [Two and a half Khomeinis] Classy graphic includes presidential seal and nice shot of anguished Chief Exec. But hold on, doesn’t this scandal allegedly involve oral sex? Nice music, but title loses points for lack of originality. (See CNN.)

CBS News Rating: [Five Khomeinis] One word: gravitas. O.K., two more: phallic symbol. Combines a sweeping cityscape (Washington is in trouble!) with some tabloidy heat (under fire!). No wonder this network is on the rise, but what would Roma Downey think?


$25 million: Estimated cost to date of the Whitewater investigation

$25.8 million: Federal funds budgeted for the Washington police department in 1997

15.7: Rating for last Thursday’s 10 p.m. rerun of ER on NBC

7.9: Rating for last Thursday’s 10 p.m. news special on the White House crisis on CBS’s 48 Hours

$1.3 million: Cost of a 30-sec. ad unit aired during Super Bowl XXXII

9: Number of ad units Anheuser-Busch bought for Super Bowl XXXII

$1.26 billion: Profit earned by the U.S. Postal Service in 1997

$17.3 million: Box-office gross for the film The Postman after four weeks

11: Number of NFL head-coach vacancies after the 1996 season

0: Number of head-coach vacancies filled by African Americans

Sources: New York Times; Office of Chief Financial Officer, District of Columbia; Ultimate TV; Associated Press; Baseline

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