The Media Pardon Clinton
by L. Brent Bozell III
August 26, 1999
In the midst of the media's obsession with the George W. Bush cocaine non-stories and Hillary's non-campaign campaign for New York Senate, one explosive story is going completely unreported by the liberal broadcast television media. Not only is it newsworthy, it also reveals much about President Bill Clinton and his calloused political maneuverings.
And the media lid of silence speaks volumes about their treatment of his presidency.
On August 11, the Associated Press reported on Clinton's decision to offer clemency to 11 members of a militant Puerto Rican independence group. Here is an excerpt from that story: "President Clinton offered on Wednesday to commute the sentences of 11 members of a Puerto Rican independence group if they sign agreements renouncing the use of violence. Their group staged some 130 bomb attacks on political and military targets in the United States from 1974 to 1983." The article quotes an administration official as saying that "the prisoners were not involved in any deaths." However, the article goes on to mention that the group FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation) "killed six people and wounded dozens" during that ten year period.
Network coverage on ABC, CBS, or NBC? Zero. Not even CNN, the 24-hour cable news network, saw fit to report this, even briefly. Only FOX News covered this news, proving once more that FOX is the only television network seriously covering news today.
Why did Clinton do it? A Wall Street Journal editorial on August 13 attributed President Clinton's motive to his desire to help Hillary in her campaign for Senate in New York. Under any other circumstances, and with any other president, this would be a preposterous charge. But this is Clinton, and fits his M.O. like a glove. The Journal went further, countering the notion that these terrorists' sentences were too harsh for their crimes, as human rights advocates were maintaining, as well as denouncing the administration's position that their actions did not lead to any deaths. The editorial declared, "This is preposterous. No one died in the (1983 Hartford) Wells Fargo heist but innocent people lost their lives in the more than 100 attacks carried out by the same terrorist group on U.S. facilities.... they were part of a conspiracy that was to be extended by the funds stolen from the bank in Connecticut."
And if this were not enough, the editorial gives a brief history of presidential pardons that shows how rare they are and thus, how extraordinary the nature of Clinton's offer of clemency to these terrorists is. "To understand how rare it is for a President to commute a sentence or offer remission of a fine...consider the numbers supplied by the Office of Pardon Attorney. From the time he took office in January 1993 until April 2, the date the Office prepared its last report, Mr. Clinton had received 3,042 petitions for clemency. Until Wednesday, he had granted a total of three." (emphasis mine)
So now put it all together. One, Clinton unexpectedly offers clemency to 11 terrorists. Two, his administration (surprise!) lies about the nature of their crimes to soften the political fallout. Three, the action is virtually unheard of. And four, the only plausible explanation is calculated Slick Willie at his worst.
And there's not a story here??
After word got out (primarily through talk radio, which was buzzing for days over this) the law enforcement community reacted with outrage. As reported in the August 19 Washington Times' Inside Politics section, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to President Clinton in which he called the offer "a slap in the face" to all police officers. He also cited three New York City police officers who had been maimed in the FALN bomb attacks.
Again not a single mention in the broadcast media.
What is truly astounding about Clinton's offer to these terrorists is its timing. We are still smarting from the rash of violence that has swept this country in recent months, from the Columbine school shooting to the more recent shooting at the Jewish community center in Los Angeles. Acts of political terrorism, from the Oklahoma City bombing to World Trade Center attack in New York are still fresh in the national consciousness. Despite this, Clinton is perfectly willing to pardon those who are complicit in similar acts of horrific violence.
Imagine for a moment what would be the media reaction if this were a Republican president. Frankly, I think it impossible to overestimate the level of media outrage. Footage of these terrorists' bombings would run like a broken record. A parade of tearful family members of the victims, or the victims themselves, would be brought on the morning talk shows to share their grief and vent their anger at such an insensitive President. The pundits would openly raise questions of ruthless political pandering.
But now they're nowhere to be found. See, there's this juicy rumor about George W., and, well....
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