COLUMNS

Lots of Highs This Campaign Year

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • January 19, 2000

by Karen Feld

Lots of Highs This Campaign Year — From HDTV to Ratings to Donations

Lots of firsts in the first election year of the new millennium. Political conventions will be broadcast in HDTV. In case you really want a more lifelike picture and clarity of sound, high definition television is the answer. Internet moms will make up an important voter block. These computer-savvy women are younger, more independent, and expected to vote less Republican-leaning than the Soccer moms of the last presidential election cycle.

Hillary Clinton’s trailblazing run for the Senate seat in New York has brought a trusted aide out of “retirement.” The First Lady’s new communications director and press secretary is Lissa Muscatine. She had been Mrs. Clinton’s speech writer before taking time off to be with her kids. She’s coming aboard at a time when Mrs. Clinton is flying high from her Late Show with David Letterman appearance — New York’s highest profile new resident hopes she can score as high with NY voters as Letterman did in the TV ratings from that show. Muscatine can expect to walk a fine line since New York politics and First Lady duties must be kept separate.

And while Hillary has been busy in New York, hubby Bill continues to operate the most exclusive B&B in the nation — the Lincoln Room of The White House — despite the hullabaloo over the quid pro quo between a night at The White House for a sizable donation. One of the latest benefactors to guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is infoUSA’s Vinod Gupta, an Indian immigrant who has made millions off the superinformation highway and technology boom. It cost a mere $75K donation to the Democrats and a cool million to help underwrite Hillary’s Millennium Gala on New Year’s Eve. But it’s probably worth every penny to Gupta who got to sit by his childhood idol, Elizabeth Taylor, at The White House’s dinner on December 31st. Thirty years ago, when Gupta was a struggling student in India, he parted with a month’s allowance just to see Taylor in the film epic, “Cleopatra.”

A passersby tells us that Commerce Secretary William Daley’s courtesy call to California Rep. Bob Matsui, whom Clinton just appointed to head the China Trade talks, may not have been so “courteous.” Rarely does a Cabinet Secretary make a courtesy call, and was it coincidence that Matsui was at his office during a Congressional recess when most members were back in their districts? Anyhow, one ear witness says that they “ended up in a shouting match.” Aides downplayed the raised voices between Matsui and Daley, who are longtime acquaintances having worked together on NAFTA and other commerce issues.

There is one “high” that the politicos in Washington want to eliminate. For putting anti-drug messages in the scripts of their shows like “ER,” networks gain credits for anti-drug PSAs required by law. Some Hollywood producers’ feathers have been ruffled from this governmental intrusion that continues to blur the line between politics and entertainment, no matter how worthy the cause.

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