The Media "Move On" -- To What?
by L. Brent Bozell III
March 11, 1999
We've heard it for months -- from the White House, from Democrats in Congress, from the push polls -- the American people were aching to "move on" and get on with "the nation's business." But once the impeachment trial came to its ignominious end, what did the biggest champions of "moving on," the media, move on to? Social Security reform? Medicare financing? The Broaddrick scandal that goes ever deeper to the core of Clinton's character? The China espionage revelations that threaten our national security?
Naah. First, the national press gave us two weeks of "Run, Hillary, Run" cheerleading. Now we're buried in book excerpts and interviews with the omnipresent Monica Lewinsky and George
First, Barbara Walters' ABC interview with Lewinsky was indistinguishable from a sit-down with Sharon Stone. Lewinsky's impact on the "nation's business" came in far behind nurturing Monica's wretched self-absorption. As if that wasn't enough, then Time magazine's Washington Bureau Chief, Michael Duffy, came for an interview, and made Barbara Walters look profound by comparison. How do you explain questions like this: "Apart from the sex, what was the bond?" And: "What do you think his [Clinton's] sadness is?" And my favorite: "Some people dream about being naked, and you dream about being...?" Duffy ought to be laughed out of National Press Club functions with an embarrassment like this.
Newsweek ran long excerpts of George Stephanopoulos's book. What is it with these ex-White House types? He sounds too similar to Lewinsky, with all his need for therapy and anti-depressant pills. Georgy-Boy tells us he's sooo disappointed in Clinton and wouldn't have voted for him, if only he'd known the man's character. Hogwash. He was one of Clinton's closest aides when Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones broke, during the eruption of Travelgate and Filegate, and all manner of other Clinton shenanignans. And yet, through the twisted ethical prism of the media, the news coverage surrounding the book is obsessing over how Stephanopoulos has scandalously failed to continue to cover up for Clinton, while the Begalas and the Carvilles continue to lie with impunity.
Meanwhile, Juanita Broaddrick's story is still begging for attention, but the media continue to ignore it, even when a related story virtually begs for coverage. Al Gore holds a White House event on domestic violence with no raised eyebrows from the press. Hillary Clinton travels to the United Nations to declare "It is no longer acceptable to say that the abuse and mistreatment of women is cultural. It should be called what it is -- criminal." Was that a gaffe -- or could it be, as Rush Limbaugh suggested, a Senate hopeful creating distance from an undesirable spouse? Nobody cared. Broaddrick's son, Kevin Hickey, appears on CNN's Larry King Live, followed by former Clinton aides David Gergen and Dee Dee Myers saying that the credible appearances of Broaddrick and Son underline the need for a better answer from Clinton. But the media are indistinguishable from Clinton's hard-line aides. We don't want to know! We don't want to know!
Instead, NBC Nightly News, which still avoids Broaddrick, aired two minutes of a "Today" show interview with Lewinsky's father and stepmother.
If a rape story is too painfully private to contemplate, how about the Clinton administration's utter failure to take Chinese espionage seriously? The New York Times and others report that Chinese agents made a gargantuan leap in their nuclear-weapons technology by spying at the Los Alamos nuclear lab in the 1980s. This administration has known about it since 1995, but shrugged their shoulders. (Don't upset those re-election donors). But much like they avoided the Missilegate scoops last spring, the networks are treating this like a two-day story. The network mornings quickly moved on to more important matters. ABC had to air a half-hour on weight loss, CBS felt it was more urgent to discuss the 40th anniversary of the Barbie doll, and even when NBC did an interview, Katie Couric was making excuses: "Isn't there a possibility that China could have done this on its own?" Yes, and the Rosenbergs were innocent.
Then there's Let's-Move-On Cheerleader #1, Geraldo Rivera, whose two CNBC shows continue to wage war on Kenneth Starr, "the investigative terrorist." Rivera is so obsessed he went to Little Rock to continue his crusade for S&L crook Susan McDougal. Hounding Starr deputy Hickman Ewing on a street corner, Rivera asked repeatedly "When is enough enough?" He finished by telling Ewing: "Isn't it true that Susan McDougal is just the surrogate defendant, that the defendant you want is really the President of the United States?"
Rivera signed a $6 million a year contract with NBC News to drop his morning sleaze show and pretend to be a serious "news" man. But he's still doing the same show, hawking perverts and crooks. By today's TV standards, it's quality stuff.
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