Has Washington "Seldom Been Screwier"?
by L. Brent Bozell III
October 16, 1997
Evidence of Clinton administration illegalities, unethical
practices, dishonesty, and coverups is mounting at a furious pace, and sending
some in the media into damage control overdrive. Wall Street Journal
Washington Bureau Chief Alan Murray began a recent front-page piece by
suggesting Washington has "seldom been screwier. Why should people care
whether the president greets his guests in the Oval Office or the Map Room?
Whether the vice president makes phone calls at the office or at home? Janet
Reno may be mad, but the rest of the country is just bored." How quaint.
Establish, for public consumption, that the stories are boring; bore the
public; and use their boredom as a justification not to cover the stories.
Circle closed. Do Murray and his 89-percent pro-Clinton colleagues (like the
Journal's Al Hunt, last seen back-slapping Harold Ickes in the Senate hearing
room) even care about hypocrisy? Apparently, not even rank hypocrisy.
The coffee videotapes spurred a new round of network
interest, even on the morning shows, but the clear message was: the tapes help
exonerate the President. As usual, the media
insisted no "smoking gun" of illegality has been
found (and discount the merely unethical or hypocritical).
They don't even care when this hypocrisy extends to issues
near and dear to them, like campaign finance "reform." This most
ethical administration in history came to power on a mantra of
"change," and as a top priority in their 1992 campaign manifesto
"Putting People First," Bill Clinton and Al Gore proclaimed they
would tame the special interests with the big checkbooks.
In reality, this administration did nothing on campaign
"reform." To the contrary, the record demonstrates they sold the
integrity of their office - if not the integrity of the presidency itself - in
the best good ol' boy tradition. In fact, Slick Willie and Co. have been
aggressively soliciting illicit donations since 1992. So while Clinton and
Gore boogied through flag-waving Fleetwood Mac moments promising that new era
of honest government, the Democratic machine was already tapping John Huang
and Gene and Nora Lum for donations from Indonesia and China. No wonder their
theme song was "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)."
Let's be blunt: the media aren't worried about these stories
being boring. They're worrying about them being interesting. We were
taught in civics class that the news media is a check on dishonesty in
government. That's not true. If it's liberal dishonesty and hypocrisy, it
doesn't make the news.
You see it time and again. Anita Hill pledged to Sen. Howell
Heflin and the American public that she, the virginal victim of sexual
harassment, would never betray a personal motive in her testimony by writing a
book about her unproven charges, had no intention of cashing in on her story.
In NBC's two promotional segments for Hill's new book on September 29 and 30,
"Dateline" host Jane Pauley again presented Hill as a victim, making
almost no reference to - forget any condemnation of - Hill's post-hearing
career, of dozens of speaking appearances for a fat fee of $10,000 plus, and a
two-book deal with Doubleday for $1 million. At the very end of the second
segment, "Dateline" actually Turned' Hill's hypocrisy on its ear in
order to further glorify Hill's image. Stone Phillips announced: "Some of
the profits from Hill's book are going to a scholarship fund for survivors of
the Oklahoma City bombing." Pauley puffed up Hill: "Courage came
slowly, didn't it?" Later, as Hill expressed surprise that Clarence
Thomas denied her wild charges, Pauley cooed: "I can see the steel in
your spine even as you say that."
While Hill was turning her crusade against Thomas into a
million-dollar business opportunity, Paula Jones was rejecting a $700,000
settlement offer from Bill Clinton's lawyers. In the same fashion, she's
turned down other lucrative cash proposals. But on the very day she filed
suit, they had quickly smeared her as a trailer-park sleaze, a hussy out for a
While the red carpet was being unfurled for Saint Anita,
media doors were continuing to slam in the face of investigative reporter
Chris Ruddy or his book "The Strange Death of Vincent Foster." It is
appalling. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr issued his 114-page final report
on the Foster death, and Ruddy's book - thoroughly researched, and endorsed by
no less than William Sessions, former head of the FBI - blows the Starr report
to bits. But Ruddy's a conservative, so none of that mattered. Such is the
mindset of the media elite, which then bemoan how things in Washington have
"seldom been screwier."
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