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Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Depends on which side of the fence you are on, you would see either former US President or Fox newsman Chris Wallace in the line of fire.

Wallace asked the question, Clinton pretty much flew off the rocker, pounded his clip board and sent the ratings soaring. 'Fox News Sunday' which aired the contentious interview recorded its best ratings in nearly three years.

It all started when Wallace asked Clinton- "Why didn't you do more to put bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business when you were President? Why didn't you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?"

Clinton exploded calling Fox News a "right-wing bullying and propaganda machine." He also said that he had tried to "get bin-Laden" and implied that President Bush has not.

There was more to come....
Bill Clinton: "You did Fox's bidding on this show, you did your nice little conservative hit job on me."
Chris Wallace: "I asked a question, you don't think it was a legitimate question?"
Bill Clinton: (Clinton taps Wallace's clip board at this point)
"It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you ask this question to.

Clinton even accused Wallace of arranging the interview "under false pretenses" by saying it would focus largely on his efforts to fight global warming.

But when Wallace offered to discuss the global warming initiative, Clinton insisted on finishing his answer to the questions about terrorism:

" ask me about terror and Al Qaeda with that sort of dismissive thing when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke's book to look at what we did in a comprehensive, systematic way to try to protect the country against terror. And you got that little smirk on your face, and you think you're so clever. But I had responsibility to try to protect the country. I tried and I failed to get Bin Laden. I regret it. But I did try and I did everything I thought I
responsibly could."

It was interesting to watch the whole saga unfold. For one, it showed that no amount of media training can ever teach you how to keep your emotions in check. Or maybe the intent was not to keep emotions in check. While it was almost amusing to watch Clinton that angry, what left me stumped was Wallace himself. Why wasn't he retorting, why was he attributing his questions to the emails he received, instead of sticking to his ground and saying these were questions he wanted answers for, questions he believed viewers would be interested in? What I wanted was more hard-talking, what I saw instead was a newsman drawn into the corner. Clearly, political combat beat journalistic combat hollow. Pity about that.