BROOKE GLADSTONE: There does seem to be one way to get a big payday out of the networks, but you have to be a former president to do it, and preferably not Gerald Ford. NBC reportedly offered Bill Clinton his own talk show, and his asking price was said to have been 50 million dollars. That's more than the salaries of all the network anchors combined, although it's less than half of Oprah Winfrey's reported paycheck.
According to the tabloids, though, the man we call "Bubba" is still not quite ready to take the plunge. Naturally they want him. Clinton is known for his ease in front of the camera, and in Town Hall Meetings he's proved adept as an interviewer. Whatever network signs him will want to amortize the expense by spreading him around. If it's NBC, he'll be on MSNBC and CNBC as much as Chris Matthews. He'll sit in the broadcast booth during the World Series. He'll anchor a morning news show segment called "Bill Clinton's America."
Whatever network signs him will be painted as having a pervasive left wing bias, and they'll try to compensate by giving Trent Lott his own sitcom. And the 2004 presidential election will be haunted by the specter of Bill Clinton. Rather than a shadowy presence hanging over the Democrats, he'll actually be interviewing them.
As for the Republicans, the perennial strategy of blaming the media and blaming Clinton will be rolled conveniently into one when Clinton becomes "The Media." [HAIL TO THE CHIEF PLAYS] [OPRAH WINFREY'S THEME SONG PLAYS]