BILL CLINTON AND AL GORE HAD BEITER be careful when they talk bits and bytes around Brit Hume. The chief White House correspondent for ABC News has been moonlighting as a computer guru since shortly after the network furnished him with his first PC to cover Walter Mondale's feckless 1984 presidential campaign. That same year, Hume (alternating with Washington Post writer T.R. Reid) began writing Computer Report, a weekly consumer-oriented column (now syndicated in 26 papers)that addresses cyber-issues large (Microsoft), small (computer mice) and thorny (pornography on the Internet), all from the standpoint of the average user.
Hume, 53, says he finds himself "constantly" in front of his IBM-compatible, "drafting scripts, reading wires and sending e-mail." One of the first journalists to publish his e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org), Hume told PEOPLE that he doesn't mind hearing from disgruntled viewers, most of whom "complain about unfair treatment of the President." After all, he says, "you can delete it."
Years of dealing with Washington spinmeisters has made Hume skeptical about the industry's more relentlessly hyped ventures. Not only did he give Windows 95 a mixed review, but he's not the least bit impressed by the current Internet craze. "The Net is such a mess," he says, "and the World Wide Web has so much junk on it, it's clogged. I'd rather have root canal than sit around talking to people in chat rooms."