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Clintons Blast Chelsea Article

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 4, 1999; Page C02

President Clinton and his wife took the unusual step last night of denouncing People magazine for an upcoming cover story on their daughter, Chelsea.

"We deeply regret and are profoundly saddened by the decision of People magazine to print a cover story featuring our daughter Chelsea," the president and first lady said in a statement offered to White House reporters contacted by beeper. The story is being published in next week's issue despite a personal appeal from the first couple.

The preemptive strike was particularly rare because the story is being billed as an upbeat report on Chelsea Clinton, a student at Stanford University. Headlined "Grace Under Fire," it is billed as an "intimate look at the deep bond of love that sustains the Clinton women through their painful family ordeal." The Clintons responded after being provided with a courtesy copy by People yesterday.

Responding to the White House broadside, People Managing Editor Carol Wallace said: "There is a great deal of admiration for this mother-daughter relationship. Over the years, we have written about the Clinton family in good times and bad. Chelsea is nearly 19 years old and a poised young adult. We feel that because she is an eyewitness to . . . historical events unfolding around her, that she is a valid journalistic subject."

The president and first lady posed with Chelsea for a People cover story during the 1992 presidential campaign, one of the few times they have exposed their daughter to the glare of the media. But the newfound focus on Clinton family matters in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky affair has made the first couple even more protective of their daughter.

In their statement, the Clintons said: "For over six years, the media has understood and respected the unique situation facing Chelsea as she grows up in the spotlight focused on her parents. Other than in public situations where she is an integral part of our family, we have been very grateful for the media's restraint in allowing Chelsea the privacy that any young person needs and deserves.

"Unfortunately, despite personal appeals with respect to her privacy and her security from her parents, People magazine has chosen to run the story. We can only hope that the media will continue its policy of restraint with respect to our daughter."

The White House had little to say in November when the National Enquirer, the Star and the New York Post published stories suggesting that Chelsea was having a hard time coping with the Lewinsky fallout, noting that she had broken up with her boyfriend and had checked into a medical clinic for stomach pains. But the Clintons apparently felt that People, with its glossy reputation and 3.2 million circulation, could open the floodgates to greater coverage of the first daughter.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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