Broadcaster's gaffe puts candid views on camera

`Clinton has not a creative bone in his body. Therefore he's a bore and always will be a bore'
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David Brinkley, the doyen of American television current affairs journalists, was to bow out in glory this weekend with the ultimate coup for his Sunday morning talk show - a one-on-one interview with the President of the United States. He may still get his interview, and it will certainly make good watching. But not for the original reason intended.

Early on Wednesday morning, with Bill Clinton's victory known for hours, the host of This Week With David Brinkley gathered with other members of ABC's election coverage team for some final reflections on the night. Mr Brinkley, however, seemed to think the session was off camera.

"Four years of wit, poetry, music, love and affection," was his sarcastic assessment of a second Clinton term, "plus more god-damned nonsense." The President's victory speech in Little Rock a few minutes earlier had been "one of the worst things I've ever heard . . . totally unnecessary."

Twice his colleagues tried to warn him he was on the air, but the 76- year-old Mr Brinkley ploughed on. Unlike his fellow broadcasters, Mr Clinton was not creative: "He has not a creative bone in his body. Therefore he's a bore, and always will be a bore."

Unfortunately this eternally tedious politician had agreed a few days earlier to the This Week interview, the first after his re-election and intended as a special honour to mark the retirement of a man who has been at the top of his business almost since it began.

In 1956, he was picked by NBC to cover the Eisenhower and Stevenson nominating conventions. Shortly thereafter began the Huntley-Brinkley Report that made him a household name almost to match the peerless Walter Cronkite.

Today he is the last active practitioner from a television generation that included Mr Cronkite, his former partner Chet Huntley, and the late John Chancellor.

Yesterday, the White House had not yet decided whether to go ahead with the interview, which would offer the ultimate contrast in styles. Mr Brinkley is celebrated for his dry, terse and increasingly cranky style. Mr Clinton is charming, effusive, and prone to talk as if there were no tomorrow.

Whatever else he may be, he is rarely boring.