With Richard Clarke, President Bush’s former counterterrorism coordinator, under contract as an ABC News analyst, competing television news organizations were rebuffed Thursday from talking to him about national security adviser Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Clarke was interviewed on ABC by Peter Jennings minutes after Rice, Clarke’s former boss, ended her appearance before the commission.
Clarke’s spokeswoman, Carisa Hays, said it was his choice to give TV interviews only to ABC on Thursday. Like many national security officials, Clarke was hired by a network as a consultant shortly after leaving government. ABC would not say how much he was paid.
Yet with his book, “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror,” and own appearance before the Sept. 11 commission, Clarke has become a central part of the story. Rice was asked about several of the things Clarke has said about fighting terrorism during her testimony.
Representatives from NBC, CBS and CNN said they were refused access to Clarke on Thursday and in recent days.
“It’s not as though we were without the ability to represent his point of view, but there’s no question Mr. Clarke is a newsmaker, and I would have liked to have had Mr. Clarke on our broadcast today,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer of NBC News specials.
NBC’s Tom Brokaw interviewed Roger Cressey, Clarke’s business partner and former deputy in the White House, who is a consultant to NBC News.
‘A man in the news’
CBS’s “Early Show” tried to book Clarke last week and was told by Clarke’s office that from now on, he would be available only to ABC, said Sandra Genelius, a spokeswoman for CBS News. The “CBS Evening News” heard the same thing when it made inquiries Thursday, she said.
“Because he is obviously a man in the news, it would seem to be fair that he would speak to any news organization,” she said.
A spokeswoman for CNN said several of the network’s requests to speak to Clarke recently were turned down by his publisher.
Hays, who works for Clarke’s publisher, Free Press, told a reporter that Clarke would speak only to ABC News on Thursday. When asked whose choice it was, she said, “Speak to ABC.”
An hour later, Hays called back to say it was Clarke’s choice.
Clarke made his biggest TV splash March 21 on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” an interview that was arranged before he signed with ABC. He appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on March 28. He made those appearances as an unpaid newsmaker.
Clarke also appeared Thursday on ABC News as a newsmaker, not as an ABC News consultant, said Cathie Levine, a spokeswoman for the network. Before interviewing Clarke on the air, Jennings twice told viewers that Clarke was a paid adviser for ABC News.
“In this period as a newsmaker, it was made very clear that he did not need to be exclusive to ABC,” Levine said. “We made this clear to his publisher, too.”
And Clarke did make himself available for print interviews Thursday.