And now the most fascinating two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
No sooner did Yasser Arafat promise the United States he would arrest those responsible for that shipment of 50 tons of weapons destined for the Palestinians, than he turned around and blamed the shipment on Israel, which intercepted the shipment. Yesterday, State Department officials were using the word "positive" to describe a letter from Arafat to Secretary of State Powell, in which he appeared to blame the arms shipment on the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. But now, in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper, Arafat said, "We do not accuse Iran or Hezbollah. We accuse Israel and its intelligence apparatus."
A new report from a House subcommittee says Bill and Hillary Clinton made off with dozens of gifts worth thousands of dollars that were never reported on their official disclosure forms. A House government reform subcommittee says a six-month inquiry has turned up such never-reported items as champagne, cigars, Ferragamo silk neckties, and Ming Dynasty jewelry. The report also says the couple took china, cutlery and furniture worth more than $75,000. The Clintons had previously been criticized for leaving the White House with $190,000 worth of gifts, but the subcommittee pegged the total at over $360,000.
CNN founder Ted Turner says the terrorists who crashed planes into the World Trade Center were "brave at the very least." In a speech at Brown University, Turner also said of the 2000 presidential election, "A few more votes in Florida, and we could have had the best environmental president we ever had. Now we've got an oil man. He is another Julius Caesar." As for Turner himself, he said his remarks about the 9/11 terrorists were "reported out of context." The Turner Broadcasting System, a unit of Time-Warner, Inc., quickly put out a statement today saying Turner's comments "in no way reflect the beliefs of Turner Broadcasting System." John Carman, the TV critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, says the wearing of American flag lapel pins by late night TV hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman has now become a crisis. He writes, "The pins have to come off sometime, if only because in another year or two they will reclaim their original meaning: I am a conservative Republican and more American than you."