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Hey Bill - Think BIG!
Stephen Corrick hoomai29@netscape.net

Ex-President Clinton stunned me when it was reported he is looking to host a daytime talk show. My response was to wonder how someone whose vision is usually so big could be thinking so small. So here's my letter to a great ex-president in the hope that he'll step up to the plate for us when his country really needs him.

Dear President Clinton,

The news that you were pitching to host a talk show was a little baffling -- especially since we don't need another daytime host and you couldn't travel nearly enough while doing that to meet your globehopping appetite. Besides, replacing Oprah so there's someone to keep her book club going is way beneath the abilities of the former leader of the free world.

But I've got an idea, and it's one which we need terribly: What we really need now, yesterday, is a national television network -- one that offers all the programming and news offered by the mainstream media, but does it from a non-profit, socially-liberal, point of view.

Rush Limbaugh to the contrary, the hard truth is that we haven't had a right-wing coup in this country as much as we've had a right wing takeover of the news media and, therefore, of the tools which shape people's opinions. And people are sick of it, but they're also afraid to say much in the face of the unrelenting attacks launched from the right-wing mortar positions called ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and the Washington Post/Times.

The problem for Democrats is that there's no reasonable, balanced coverage of Democratic positions and no one's coming up with the hard cash to fund an alternative. It's especially sad to see the media's only ex-maverick, Ted Turner, bollixed up as Vice President in Charge of Liberal Projects that will NEVER See the Light of Day in the midst of the slow Time/Warner/CNN/AOL/God knows who else meltdown.

But there is hope and a little ray of sunshine in the recent experience of CNN's Crossfire. With Begala and Carville on board, suddenly, the show's taken off and become the most popular political talk show on television. Surprise, surprise! You'd think there was a market for democratic and liberal ideas. Hey, here's a wild idea.... What if we put together a network that appealed to the values and concerns of the majority of the US population? Great idea, huh? But, of course the problem is that putting a new network together is a huge undertaking and also terribly expensive. So far no one's even close to stepping up to the plate to do this and, if it ever is going to happen, it will take a hugely galvanizing force.

Fortunately, I've got just the guy to do it: William Jefferson Clinton. Hey, it's time to quit playing small. George Bush Sr. went around the world creating a media, financial and political coup for his kid--while still having time to try and corner the international arms trade at that bastion of social consciousness, the Carlyle Group. (Whose motto ought to be: Ain't no bin Ladens worked here since October 15. Why do you ask?).

Bill, you're the only one who has the political and financial markers built up all around the world to bring together the $5 billion or so dollars in capital to create some real competition in American media. Put together a network. Get Bill Moyers and Dan Rather to run the news end. Find an evening for Molly Ivins to bring her brilliant Texas twist to America's viewers. Give yourself a weekly news show where you go around the world and let the rest of us know what is good and getting better and what needs to be changed and how to change it. (Make sure that you also create content in Spanish so that you can counteract the Spanish radio network that the Republicans are creating even as we speak.)

While you're at it, open a national newspaper to compete with UselessA Today. Give America's investigative journalists a place to strut their stuff. Bring Greg Palast home from exile in Britain. Then, rigorously, religiously, make sure that people get the full story, both sides, so they can make the informed decisions voters and citizens must be able to make.

Help us create a new media company that shows the world everyday that there is a better way to behave toward one another and toward our planet. Hey, you used to be president. You arguably know more about the world than any other living human being. You're young and you've been very successful. After taking over from twelve years of the worst red ink in history, you had eight profitable years as President/CEO of the most law-burdened bureaucracy on Earth.

Want a challenge that's up to your standards? What could be better than creating the McDonald's of media--we love to make you think. You were always the best at blending compassionate communication and action, and that's something that, campaign slogans aside, we've seen virtually nothing of in the last sixteen months. Frankly, we're in big trouble here. How about this as a slogan for the 2002 campaign? "If you're better off now than you were in 2000, vote Republican." I sure don't know many people who could honestly say that this dark future of endless war, increasing corporate power, overturned environmental laws and lost American liberties is a better life than the one they had under your administration.

So go for it. Create the next big news network. Make it a non-profit foundation, so it won't succumb to the next wave of advertisers who don't want you to tell the truth. Hey, it works great for the BBC and for the Guardian and Observer newspapers in Britain.

So that's it, President Clinton. Something that's up to your stature and for which you may be uniquely able to pull the strings. Use your pull and your political smarts and your fund-raising abilities and build (or buy) a US network to save the First Amendment, since it only works if the press is allowed to cover all the news.

Learn the lesson that Jimmy Carter offers. Go do something great for humanity. Spread the message that the house of humanity is big enough to contain all of us. Create a media habitat that can't be torn down by corporate coup d'etats and, in the process, create the compassionate media pit bull which will protect us all from having our thoughts stolen and repackaged by guys with huge bucks and tiny hearts. And, while you're at it, make sure that no future presidential team ever has to undergo the media-created death of a thousand innuendoes that both you and Al Gore endured. It's time to start building, Bill, and you are just the one to do it. We'll bring our hammers and coveralls.