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Media Wars

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • March 29, 2000

by Karen Feld

Media Wars: Cuba v. ABC, Oscar v. Wall Street, Politicos v. Fourth Estate

The disagreement between ABC News and Cuba could be the beginning of another international situation. No sooner had Diane Sawyer’s “Good Morning America” segment with six-year-old Elian Gonzalez aired than the Cuban Government unceremoniously threw ABC’s Morton Dean and his crew out of Cuba. The Cuban government was horrified about the child opening up in front of the camera. They denounced ABC News for interviewing Elian without his father’s permission. The INS says his father has the sole right to speak for the six-year-old. After all, in Cuba the government tells the people what they can and cannot say.

The Hollywood film industry is up in arms about the Wall Street Journal’s political-style Oscar poll and its on-target predictions. They wanted the honorees as well as movie fans to be surprised on Hollywood’s biggest night. Was it an assault on their privacy as the Academy brass claim — or could it be a concern about ratings and advertising dollars? To me, it sounds a lot like the ongoing controversy over political exit polls.

While Hollywood was celebrating at the Academy Awards last weekend, the political and journalistic elite roasted — or at least singed — one another at the 115th annual Gridiron Club dinner. President Clinton stayed away — he was in Pakistan — but Al Gore was on hand looking relaxed, jovial and ready for the big chair in the Oval Office as he poked fun at himself about the Buddhist temple fund-raising scandal and as the inventor of the Internet. But embattled Attorney General Janet Reno’s performance was the biggest hit. She and four other Cabinet-level women — Donna Shalala, Alexis Herman, Aida Alvarez and Charlene Barshefsky, dressed in Superman costumes and capes — sang their rendition of “Thank Heaven for Grown-Up Girls.” Without them what would the Cabinet boys do? And a not-so-subtle V.P. hopeful Elizabeth Dole-like character sang “Hello Dubya” to a demure George W. stand in.

Speaking of the likely presidential nominees, which do you prefer, Sundance or Tumbler? Those are the Secret Service code names for Vice President Al Gore and his likely opponent in November, George W. Bush.

This week’s buzz in the vice presidential sweepstakes: Al Gore could tap Florida Senator Bob Graham to boost his ticket and put Florida in play. Most traditional Democrats have given up hope for the state where Jeb Bush, “W’s” brother, is the governor.

High marks for Chelsea Clinton on her overseas trip to South Asia with President Dad. She shows her father’s skill when pressing the flesh, and proved to be very popular with the press and locals who were always clamoring to see her even though her schedule was never published (she has no official duties). I can see a Clinton-Gore ticket in 2024 with Chelsea and Karenna, Al’s savvy politico daughter who is also one of his campaign advisers.

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