1992 | Washington, DC

Media Saturation

The making of a pop culture president.

To: Clinton Campaign
From: Mandy and Frank
Date: April 27, 1992
Re: Free Media Scheduling


We have spoken generally about the need to do pop-culture shows like Johnny Carson, but we have yet to lay out a plan to do this sort of thing, or to incorporate local radio talk shows into our schedule in any concerted way.

What are we waiting for?

We know from research that Bill Clinton’s life story has a big impact on people. We know that learning about the fights he’s taken on (education reform, welfare reform, deadbeat dads, etc.) tells people a lot about his personal convictions. We know that moments of passion, personal reflection, and humor do more for us than any six-second sound bite on the network news or for that matter any thirty-second television spot.

In tandem with our high-road, serious speech effort, we ought to design a parallel track of pop-culture national and local media efforts.

We must also coordinate this effort with a free media plan for Hillary. Which magazine should appear during the convention with Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea on the cover? LIFE? Parade? We need to decide now.

This period leading up to the convention is critical for this kind of positive information. If we don’t fill in the blanks now, we’ll never get to it after the Republican Convention. That means time is pressing. Given the lead times for magazines and some TV programs, we have to move immediately.

I suggest a free media meeting (or call) as soon as possible to consider how to rethink scheduling to incorporate these opportunities and to consider some of the following kinds of ideas.

1. Which TV journalist should we invite to Arkansas for a tour with Bill of his childhood haunts, etc.? Barbara Walters? Jane Pauley?

2. If Carson is booked, should Bill do Letterman? Arsenio? The new Jay Leno? All three?

3. What about Larry King, Oprah Winfrey, Sally Jessy Raphael? Who would allow a focus on his childhood/accomplishments, etc., without one thousand Gennifer Flowers questions?

4. What about national radio programs? Rush Limbaugh?

5. There’s a Don Imus in every market in America, and a serious call-in political/talk-radio show. Can we make a commitment that every day in every city we go to, we book Bill on those kinds of radio programs?

I understand that many people will say these kinds of things are “UnPresidential.” Bull. This is how people get information. These are forums for more personal and varied looks at Bill and Hillary and Chelsea.

Obviously, it would be better to be using these forums when the overall message of the campaign has been sharpened so that Bill’s biography could be put in a more strategic context. But I’m not sure we have the luxury of waiting until that process is complete.

At least, let’s get together and discuss these media options, so that decisions are not just made on an ad-hoc basis.


Mandy Grunwald

A memorandum. Grunwald appeared as a guest on Nightline in 1992 to discuss Gennifer Flowers’ alleged affair with Clinton, during which she told the host, Ted Koppel, that he was playing into “a trashy supermarket tabloid” agenda. The campaign hired her within forty-eight hours. Clinton appeared later that year on the Arsenio Hall Show, playing “Heartbreak Hotel” on his saxophone; Hall remarked “It’s nice to see a Democrat blow something besides the election.” Clinton won the election, with 370 of the 538 Electoral College votes.