March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

Editor’s Note: Our “Grace Under Fire” cover story received 1,706 letters—the highest number in PEOPLE history—from readers, with the overwhelming majority criticizing our decision to run the article.

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton

Shame on you! The media has shown such restraint, respect and professionalism where Miss Clinton is concerned. It is regrettable that you have decided to buck what has been a very admirable trend. Your reputation and image can only be tarnished by this poor and shortsighted decision.

Angela Harrington

Karen E. Kun, Springfield, N.J.

As much as I believe in a free press, as a mother of a teenage daughter I was profoundly saddened by your decision to run a cover story on Chelsea Clinton. This young woman’s right to privacy while living through such a difficult time in her life supersedes your right to tell her nonstory.

Wendie Goode-Dox, Los Angeles

How interesting that PEOPLE has chosen to strip the final shred of decency left in U.S. mass media. It must be a source of great pride that you are now the undisputed leader in the journalistic race to the bottom.

Robert Patenaude, Benicia, Calif.

Calling Chelsea Clinton a witness to a historical event in no way validates your decision to further expose her to public scrutiny. Labeling her a valid journalistic subject insults both your profession and the American intelligence.

Kenn MacKenzie, via e-mail

So where is the equal time on Ken Starr’s daughter? Isn’t she just as much a witness to history as Chelsea? Four years of watching her father relentlessly badger Bill Clinton should have exposed her to something.

Susan Jones, Annapolis, Md.

How ironic that President and Mrs. Clinton are so protective of their daughter in their outrage at PEOPLE’S benign story on Chelsea. Need they be reminded that Monica is someone’s daughter too? It’s safe to say that your fluff piece on the First Daughter will have nowhere near the effect on Chelsea’s future as will her father’s perverse relationship with Ms. Lewinsky!

Paige McManus, Arlington, Va.

Your ill-advised decision to run a feature on Chelsea Clinton has just cost you one longtime subscriber.

Michael J. Kiraly, via e-mail

Where did this story idea come from? Linda Tripp?

Tiffany Young, New York City

Throughout the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal, I have been waiting for someone—anyone—to put Chelsea Clinton’s well-being first. Obviously her father let her down by getting involved with Ms. Lewinsky. The next person to let her down was Kenneth Starr, by releasing pornographic details about the President and Monica to the world. If he ever gave any thought to how such information might affect Chelsea, he would have spared her (and us) the sleazy specifics. No child on earth, at any age, wants to know about their parents’ sex lives. And, finally, PEOPLE sells Chelsea down the river in the name of “journalistic” interest. Journalism, my butt! She’s on the cover for one reason and one reason only—to sell magazines. You should be ashamed.

Margie Riordan, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Chelsea has carried herself with class and dignity through this mess her father created. I feel she is entitled to her privacy. Papers and magazines like yours have no right to invade it.

Marilyn Tackaberry, Allendale, N.J.

The Clintons are to be congratulated for objecting to your article. They serve as models for parents in this nation by taking the necessary steps to intervene when they feel their child is being exploited.

Anna Leifer, East Williston, N.Y.

What a cheap, grubby way to make a buck. Do you people have no sense of responsibility? What public good does an embarrassing story about an already traumatized young woman serve? I think she deserves a break from the glare and nastiness of inappropriate prying. Leave her alone.

Julie Maxwell, Ridgefield, Wash.

I was quite upset to see news of your story on Chelsea Clinton. She is an innocent bystander to all the impeachment mess, and your exploitation of her familial relationships is completely out of line.

Betsy Dake, Baltimore

Regarding a quote from David Maraniss: “When a political situation requires using Chelsea, they will.” Evidently foreign to Mr. Maraniss is the fact that Chelsea’s public appearance with her parents in a crisis situation—whether political or not—is because of the close bond she shares with them, the same as in any close family. Her being with them in support is not called “using”; it is called “loving.”

Theoma Floyd, Crimora, Va.

This is the story the First Family tried to squelch? I don’t know what the ruckus was all about. Chelsea comes across as a bright, levelheaded and personable young woman any family would be proud to have raised. (Chelsea, have I got a boy for you!)

Jan Hunt, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Bravo! Your piece on Chelsea was in extremely good taste. Don’t apologize to anyone for printing it or for putting Chelsea on the cover. Bill and Hillary are not only hypocrites but great opportunists when it comes to using their daughter when it benefits them. I’m glad someone has the guts to stand up to them.

Meg Marston, Atlanta

Let’s see, at 19 you’re still a child who needs protection, but at 21 you’re fair game even for the President. PEOPLE did nothing wrong by running this article about Chelsea. If the President had been anywhere nearly as sensitive about Monica, there wouldn’t have been a need for this story.

Ken and Suzette Hook, Woodland, Calif.

Sensitized by the White House firestorm preceding your Chelsea cover story, I was prepared to be outraged by an intrusive hatchet job. Instead I found a poignant portrait that made me even more sympathetic to her. True, I wouldn’t want a cover story on one of our three daughters, but I would consider that before I ran for the most prominent position on this planet.

Isaac Steven Herschkopf, M.D., New York City

What a subversive concept! Freedom of the press. Positively un-American!

Mary Ellen Tonsing, Littleton, Colo.

I anxiously awaited my PEOPLE to find out what all the fuss was about concerning the Clintons. There was nothing for them to object to! I found a well-written article that told of a special bond between Chelsea and Hillary. I enjoyed it.

Mary E. Fernandes, Springfield, Ill.

From all the media hype, I thought you had ruined Chelsea’s life. Your article was more than fair.

Christine Vecchione, Anaheim, Calif.

Your article on Hillary and Chelsea Clinton portrayed a mother and daughter with a real bond. Whatever your opinion of Hillary and Bill Clinton is, they have worked very hard to give their daughter a solid base; Chelsea is a poised, impressive young woman. She and her mother have handled what must be an extremely difficult situation with grace and class!

Adrienne Murphy, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Isn’t it nice to know that our children have the character that we as parents are sometimes lacking? Hang in there, Chelsea!

Yvonne R. Maples, Flower Mound, Texas

There is simply no excuse for your having breached the boundaries of civility by printing a story on Chelsea Clinton.

Margaret Shannon, Arlington, Va.

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