News & Reviews

Issue: "Gunpoint evangelist," Oct. 9, 1999

Bauer denies wrongdoing as ex-aides charge appearance of impropriety with young campaign aide
No fire, but how thick the smoke?
It was easy to find the location of GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer's mid-morning press conference on a drizzly Sept. 29 in Washington: Just follow the thick blue cable leading from the Fox News truck parked on Massachusetts Ave. It snaked for hundreds of feet along the sidewalk, around the corner, into a side entrance of the upscale Wyndham Hotel, and up to a mezzanine meeting room. At the end of the umbilical was a camera that would carry the proceedings live. More than a dozen other networks and stations also had cameras set up in the room. By 10 a.m., all 40 seats in the small room were filled, and other reporters and broadcasters were elbowing into position along the walls. Someone suggested the fire marshal might call off the whole thing, prompting a round of chuckles. Journalists had heard the reports of smoke surrounding Mr. Bauer, an evangelical on leave as head of the Family Research Council (FRC). Two former top aides-Charlie Jarvis and Tim McDonald-have gone on the record with complaints that Mr. Bauer had met in lengthy sessions with a 27-year-old female aide behind closed doors. The reporters wanted to ask if the existence of such smoke meant that there was fire, and Mr. Bauer came out fighting. He charged he had been the target of "character assassination" for the past six weeks. The rumors, he said, were "disgusting, outrageous, evil, and sick-trash-can politics at its worst." Because the rumors had spread so widely and were beginning to attract comment in the media, Mr. Bauer said he felt compelled to address them publicly. He denied that he ever had violated his marriage vows and charged that the rumors were being spread by a rival candidate's campaign (later in the day he specified the Forbes campaign). Mr. Bauer's family-Carol, his wife of 27 years, along with their two daughters and their junior-high son-stood stiffly behind him on his right throughout his 45-minute question-and-answer session. Asked whether his long-time secretary had resigned out of displeasure with his actions, Mr. Bauer said he would not try to speak for her. He stated that the aide at the heart of the rumors-Melissa McClard, the campaign's deputy campaign manager and FRC transplant-was still on the campaign staff. A TV reporter raised the "appearances" issue. Wasn't Mr. Bauer aware of sensitivity in evangelical circles toward closed-door fraternization between sexes? Had he spent such time with the young aide? Mr. Bauer said he is not a minister, and that times have changed: "This is 1999, not 1899." He said the ranks of professionals include women as well as men, and conferring with them behind closed doors is "the way it's done" in the corporate and political world. Mr. Bauer said he has spent time in private with all of his staff members, including Miss McClard: "Yes, I have met behind closed doors in my campaign headquarters with every member of my campaign staff at one time or another." After the press conference, a senior campaign official who requested anonymity acknowledged that Mr. Bauer on occasion also had traveled alone with Miss McClard, but always "in public, amid dozens of witnesses." Soon, Mr. Bauer and his chief critic, Mr. Jarvis, were calling Rush Limbaugh's talk show and appearing on television news programs; Mr. Jarvis, a former executive with James Dobson's Focus on the Family, last month resigned as Bauer's campaign chairman and announced his support for Steve Forbes. Mr. Bauer insisted that there was no fire, and that the smoke was actually second-hand, a Clinton leftover that had no relevance to him. But Mr. Jarvis stated repeatedly that Mr. Bauer should have had the wisdom to avoid the appearance of potential problems, and certainly should have taken action when dedicated aides told him that suspicion was growing. By the conclusion of the frantic media day, a strange coalition had developed. Liberal reporters seemed to be supporting the position of Mr. Bauer, whom they had ordinarily portrayed as a right-wing adversary. They were noting that Mr. Jarvis and other resigned aides were not charging adultery, but merely complaining about appearances, as if this were 1899, not 1999. Some evangelicals, however, expressed concerns about Mr. Bauer's judgment and the way that appearances could create suspicion of the kind helpful to the basic Clinton defense during the impeachment debate and thereafter: "They all do it." Nor was it clear that the moral standards of 1999 are necessarily superior to those of 1899. U.S. ceos cover their eyes in beijing
Forbidden City
All the official iron-fistedness in the days leading up to the big Oct. 1 parade fit perfectly what the event commemorated: 50 years of totalitarian rule in China. "From noon on September 30, the area inside the second ring road will be under strict traffic control, virtually a forbidden zone," said police instructions handed to tenants along the main avenue leading to Tiananmen Square. Businesses in central Beijing were shuttered on Sept. 30 and tourists were ordered out of hotels along the parade route for the 50th annual National Day event. Only China's top brass could actually survey the festivities. A select group of peasants, workers, and students was chosen to portray the masses, attending lengthy rehearsals of slogan-shouting in the weeks leading up to the event. But for most Chinese, the area surrounding Tiananmen Square has become a Forbidden City. Protocols on security could not hide an ideological insecurity. State-run television issued ever-lengthening segments of sloganeering leading up to National Day. Broadcasters prepared "coverage" of the event well in advance. Two days before National Day, the government yanked Time, Newsweek, and Asiaweek from circulation in China. Their timing was embarrassing for 200 American CEOs who gathered in Shanghai the same week to fete government leaders. The forum was sponsored by Fortune magazine, whose parent company, Time-Warner, also publishes Time and Asiaweek. The day before his magazines were pulled, Time-Warner chairman Gerald Levin had presented Chinese President Jiang Zemin with a bust of Abraham Lincoln and toasted him as "my good friend." Other execs, smelling money more than trouble, were supportive of Beijing. Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom (which owns MTV and has announced plans to acquire CBS), chided journalists for being "unnecessarily offensive" to their host country. Insurance head Maurice Greenberg criticized American media for challenging China's definition of human rights. Mr. Greenberg, chairman of American International Group, said, "Feeding, clothing, and sheltering 1.2 billion people is a big job. They're living better than at any time in their history. That's human rights." WORLD in brief
Turkey: papers criticize gov't, defend church
Even Turkey's Muslim papers berated government officials for taking action against a Protestant church with a 20-year history in Izmir, a port on the Aegean that is also host to a U.S. air base. The conservative Muslim daily Zaman criticized a Sept. 12 raid on the church. An editorial called the intrusion, where 40 worshippers were arrested and held for a day, something "hardly found in the 16th century," and "unbecoming to our government." Despite a high-level meeting between Turkey's Interior Minister and local Protestant leaders a week ago, Izmir Fellowship's building remains sealed, reported Compass Direct. Turkish media have given the incident unusual coverage for the Muslim-dominated nation. Three daily papers editorialized against the government, including one newspaper columnist who questioned police motives: "The apparent 'crime' was to be both a Turk and a Christian." Central America: Mitch Anniversary
Nearing the anniversary of Central America's tangle with Hurricane Mitch, its victims are again overcome by heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides. Eleven people have died from the recent weather in Honduras, and as many as 13,000 are being evacuated from Mitch-struck areas near San Pedro Sula. Honduras has been under a state of emergency since Sept. 18. Russia: attacks follow public opinion backlash against Chechens
As Russian air forces completed a week of bombing in Chechnya, military officials in Moscow said they were making preparations for a ground assault against the Russian republic. The offense was an answer to Chechen incursions into Dagestan in August and September. It was also timed to correspond with a wave of unpopular opinion toward Chechens, who are blamed for terrorist attacks in Moscow that have killed over 300 people in the last month. Russia fought an unpopular war against Chechnya in 1994-96, which ended with an agreement allowing further autonomy to the republic. Yugoslavia: Serbs crush Belgrade protest
Serb riot police, wielding batons, dispersed up to 30,000 protesters marching toward the Belgrade area where Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic lives and works. Some of the protesters were beaten. Zoran Djindjic, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, told Reuters the police action showed Mr. Milosevic had lost his nerve: "He made this protest a popular uprising because you use such force only when you see the protests as a big threat to your regime." Anti-Milosevic demonstrators have marched in cities throughout Serbia in recent weeks, blaming the Yugoslav leader for growing economic hardships and international isolation following a decade of Balkan wars. The No-Comment Zone

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