ONCE THERE WAS GREENFIELD
Forget the maybes, CNN has canceled Jeff Greenfield‘s show. In fact, according to one CNN ad sales staffer in Atlanta, word of the show’s cancellation came in early February. “It was getting hammered by Fox News. Focus groups hated it,” says the ad salesman. “But Greenfield isn’t going anywhere. [CNN Chairman Walter] Isaacson loves him.”
Greenfield’s loss is Connie Chung‘s gain. With less promo time required for her former ABC News colleague, it means CNN’s promotional efforts can center on Chung.
A RIDGE TOO FAR
Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge is lobbying hard for a new job in the Bush administration in the wake of a plan by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to have a senior military official, perhaps as high ranking as a four-star general, oversee facets of security across the United States. “If the Pentagon wants the job, fine,” says a Homeland Security staffer. “But don’t cut out the legs from under Ridge five months into his job. If he’s bascially going to be a figurehead, he’d prefer to have a more substantive job.”
Ridge finds himself in a tight spot. Despite very public and vocal support from President Bush, Ridge has received little cooperation from other administration leaders, such as Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. “They blow him off,” says the Homeland aide. “Ridge feels like he’s just spinning his wheels.”
In fact, one rumor floating about the 7th Street offices of the Department of Transportation has Ridge lobbying Bush for Mineta’s job. “That’s a slot Ridge had lobbied for right after the election,” says an assistant undersecretary at transportation. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land here. Mineta hasn’t wowed the White House with his performance.”
GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
The House Government Reform subcommittee on energy policy, natural resources and regulatory affairs released a report Tuesday that further detailed the gifts the Clintons walked away with on leaving the White House in January 2001. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Clintons had nothing to say to the subcommittee. In fact, their designated representative on the matter, Bruce Lindsey, didn’t even bother to submit written testimony during hearings. The year-long investigation by the subcommittee, which is chaired by California Republican Doug Ose, revealed for instance that President Clinton walked off with more than $25,000 worth of golfing equipment, much of which his staff failed to detail in ethics filings.
As well, despite the Clintons’ insistence that the gift registry set up by Hillary for silver and place settings was done by “friends,” the investigation determined that because the Omaha, Nebraska registry required a secure password and personal e-mail address for the registry recipients, the Clintons, or a Clinton aide, would have had to provide the eleven donors of the gifts with the password and e-mail.
“This wasn’t some kind of nice surprise for the Clintons moving into a new home,” says one of the committee investigators. “This was the Clintons or one of their agents setting up the account, making the ‘wish list’ and then forwarding the list, the password and the e-mail address to those eleven people. It was solicitation plain and simple and that is breaking the ethics rules.”
Aside from the solicitation, the committee also determined that a number of valuable gifts have gone missing. “Perhaps the Clintons gave these things to staffers as gifts of gratitude for service,” says the investigator. “But we also believe that many of the missing items could be found in the Clinton residences in Washington and New York.”
There are anecdotal reports, for example, that a Pakistani rug valued by the Clintons at $1,200, but more likely worth more than $5,000, is sitting on the floor of a room in the Clintons’ home in Northwest Washington. “At this point, it doesn’t matter. This report was meant to buttress reform legislation,” says a congressman on the subcommittee. “It wasn’t a hunt for dirt, just to make a point that gift-giving and gift-taking is a problem in the executive branch that has to be fixed.”
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