Don Hewitt, Historic 1992 Clinton Campaign Adviser
Thursday's Washington Post obituary on CBS News producer Don Hewitt included a mention of the "pointed questioning" CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft offered Bill and Hillary Clinton to save their presidential campaign in 1992. But it also underlined how Hewitt offered the Clintons his political advice on how to use his CBS time as the only answer needed for his record of adultery and sexual harassment:
Before filming the segment, Mr. Hewitt leaned down to the future president with advice: "I think, at some point, you should be as candid as you know how to be, and from then on, you say, 'I said it on "60 Minutes," and if you want to know what I think or have said on the subject, then go get a tape and run it again. I've said it all.' "
Clinton did exactly that -- he spoke vaguely of causing "pain in his marriage," and then claimed he said it all on CBS. As the obituaries report, Hewitt was a television pioneer -- and a pioneer in hard-hitting liberal attack journalism on "60 Minutes." But for favored Democrats, from the Clintons to the Obamas, "60 Minutes" was a supportive platform to sell their wares.
Hewitt was so self-impressed with the liberal management of TV news that he thought conservative ads designed to go around the broadcast elite were like obscenities. From Brent Bozell in June of 1999:
CBS "60 Minutes" boss Don Hewitt was even more blunt in this year's Frank Gannett Lecture at the Media Studies Center. Not only does Hewitt oppose the networks granting free time to candidates, he thinks the [Steve] Forbes ads should be banned altogether. "Give them news space when they do something newsworthy and not sell them advertisement space to toot their own horn."
Isn't that a teensy violation of the First Amendment? Claimed Hewitt: "The First Amendment has never stopped anyone from refusing to broadcast or print obscenities, and I contend that political commercials are just that -- obscenities -- and could be banned for that reason alone."