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Clinton assails media at German gala

BADEN-BADEN, Germany (AP) — Former President Clinton took a swipe at the American media at a gala thrown by German journalists who last year awarded him a prize for achievements as a statesman.

Clinton, who received the German Media Prize last year at the White House, stopped by this high-class spa town as a guest of honor at the ceremony Tuesday for this year's winner, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

"I really wanted to come here because everyone in America found it astonishing that anyone in the media anywhere would give me a prize for anything," Clinton quipped to laughs from the audience.

"Although at home they might give me a prize for having survived them," he added during the invitation-only event.

Clinton — who is on his first trip to Europe since leaving office — and former South African President Nelson Mandela were on the stage to congratulate Schroeder, who was honored for his communication skills.

Received by a saxophone band playing "Don't Be Cruel," Clinton blinked away tears after an impassioned speech to the audience of German media tycoons and business leaders in which he appealed for more aid from rich to poor countries.

The media prize, which involves no money, is awarded annually by leading German newspaper, magazine and TV editors to major public figures. Past recipients include Mandela, late French President Francois Mitterrand, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the late King Hussein of Jordan.

In a nod to Clinton's sex scandal while in office, Schroeder recalled that he too has struggled to maintain a private life in Germany's increasingly competitive media world.

"The chase for a headline or the better photo shouldn't turn into a people hunt," he said.

On Monday in The Hague, Netherlands, Clinton addressed European businessmen who paid up to $1,200 to hear him and attending a luncheon with about a dozen guests who paid $10,000 each for the semiprivate conversation.

Clinton's trip was to continue Wednesday in Denmark.