A Nation of Hypocrites
by L. Brent Bozell III
The Ken Starr report says many things about this president
of ours, and his most ethical administration in history. The public reaction
to the report also says something about the rest of us.
Namely, we -- pundits and public alike -- are just about as
hypocritical, cynical, and shameless as Bill Clinton.
Twenty-four hours after the press got its hands on the
report came the inevitable backlash. In one national news report after
another, and on the (endless) talk show circuit, the question was raised: Did
Starr have to be so graphic? "Did this report have to be that detailed,
that explicit?" NBC's "Dateline" anchor Stone Phillips asked
Republican Congressman Bill McCollum. "I mean, you cringe when you read
it. Does the Congress need it, do the American people need to hear it, should
the President be subjected to this kind of embarrassment?"
On ABC's "20/20" the day of the release, Barbara
Walters was equally puzzled: "When you read this report it is so
salacious, it is so graphic. There could be a backlash against Ken Starr. I
asked the prosecutor's office today why it had to be so salacious and was told
the answer is in the report."
Oh, come now. Any journalist with the IQ of an orangutan
knows precisely why it was so graphic: Bill Clinton under oath (and publicly
to the entire nation) denied a sexual relationship using slippery legal
mumbo-jumbo, which could be disproved only by a detailed description of the
This mock shock-job at the specifics was an exercise in
media cynicism, as reporters rushed breathlessly to the nearest microphone to
be the first to break the story to the American people. Some tried to edit out
a word here, a line there, but the message was clear.
Others made no effort whatsoever to restrict their
reporting. After trashing Starr for issuing such a tawdry report, Geraldo
Rivera proceeded to ask this question: "According to Miss Lewinsky, she
performed oral sex on the President on nine occasions. On all nine of those
occasions the President fondled and kissed her bare breasts. He touched her
genitals both through her underwear and directly, bringing her to orgasm on
two occasions. On one occasion the President inserted a cigar into her vagina.
On another occasion she and the President had brief genital contact...
High crime or low blow?"
There was no need for Geraldo to say that, except that he
wanted to say that. Hypocrisy.
But nothing is more shameless than the reaction coming from
some quarters of the American public, specifically in the never-ending
"man-on-the-street" interviews wherein Starr is being excoriated for
including such material in his report. How awful! How obscene! How repugnant!
Spare me, you hypocrites. Turn on the television tonight and
tell me what's on the prime time schedule. Show after show will feature the
very same subject matter as comedic entertainment, and tens of millions of
Americans will watch it in the comfort of their living rooms, laughing all the
way. Where's the outrage there?
Turn on your radio. Listen to the disc jockeys - the ones
your children are listening to -- as they try to out-do one another with the
raunchiest skits imaginable based on the Lewinsky scandal. And not a peep of
protest from you.
How about the movies? "There's Something About
Mary" was produced with a paltry (in Hollywood terms) $25 million, boasts
no real stars, and yet sits at the top of the charts. According to one report,
no one "has been able to recall a movie that had so much durability that
it finally hit number one in its eighth week in wide release, as 'Mary' did
over the Labor Day weekend."
On one level the film is absolutely hilarious, and could
have been a terrific PG-13 rated comedy. But the producers had something else
in mind. No, there isn't a credible film critic in America who will
graphically describe it in his review - there are limits, you know. And no,
this writer won't discuss it either - one doesn't say those things in a family
paper, of course.
But millions upon millions of people - adults and children -
know all about the "hair-gel" scene, and word-of-mouth pass along
the details to their friends, and presto! It's the "smash" of the
season, projected to make $200 million.
And yet Ken Starr is out of line for doing his job, and
telling the truth. We are a nation of hypocrites.
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Write to Brent Bozell
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