Chelsea Clinton’s Childhood: No Pizza, Cartoons on Weekdays

May 7, 2012 4:37pm

Bill and Hillary Clinton were, it seems, just as strict setting rules for their daughter Chelsea as they were pushing for policies in Washington.

According to the only child, the former president and first lady vetoed sugary cereals, set a strict 30-minute per day limit on watching TV, and relegated pizza eating and cartoon watching to the weekends, Chelsea Clinton, now 32, wrote in the foreword of a parenting book about kids’ media consumption.

“In our house, media had its place,” Clinton says in “Talking Back to Facebook,” which was written by her former Stanford professor James Steyer. “Media consumption, like meals, was a shared family experience.”

Clinton said her family’s dinner discussions “frequently” revolved around the news, movies, television shows and computer games, particularly about how the media was covering her parents, who for most of her elementary school life were the governor and first lady of Arkansas.

“Those conversations helped me develop a broad and healthy skepticism about the media as well as a respect for its ability… to empower or disempower people,” Clinton writes in the book, which will be released Tuesday.

Clinton, who was 13-years-old when she moved into the White House, said she only “secured precious permission” to watch her first hour-long program, “ER”, as a teenager, but spent “hundreds of hours” playing old-school computer games like “Oregon Trail” and “Carmen San Diego” with her dad.

But however strict the Clintons were in restricting their daughter’s media consumption, they were just as firm in limiting the amount of exposure the media got to their former first daughter, keeping her out of the limelight as much as possible.

As a teenager in the White House, Clinton did not escape the public scrutiny that comes with the presidency. Just last month she bonded with Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke over withstanding the verbal assault of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

The controversial radio show host called Fluke a “slut” earlier this year after she advocated for insurance coverage for contraception. He made a joke about then-13-year-old Clinton being the White House “dog” shortly after president Clinton was elected.

“Thankfully I had grown up in public life and knew that having thick skin was a survival skill,” Clinton said after recounting the incident at a women in politics event in April. “I do also believe if you have the right type of enemies you’re doing something correct.”

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