January 30, 1998 in City

Media Suffering From Lack Of Practice At This Breaking Old Pattern This Scandal’s Easy To Fathom And Grabs Ratings.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Finally, the somnambulatory media have stirred, prompting Clinton apologists to whimper about a feeding frenzy. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone, they bleat. If the first lady doesn’t mind, they clamor, why should we?

Well, in a sentence: It’s the sex, stupid.

Clinton’s apparent inability to stay zipped has hamstrung the White House again and made him a laughingstock. The Iraqis, among others, fear the United States might start a war to divert attention from Monica Lewinsky. Americans, meanwhile, can’t get enough of Jay Leno’s Monicalogues.

The Clintons have survived the other bimbo eruptions, as well as all the unending “gates,” because they could count on the docile media to look the other way. Whitewater was too complicated. Paula Jones was trailer trash. Filegate, Travelgate, fund-raising abuses. Who cares? Everybody does it (but none like the Clintons).

Monicagate, however, is one scandal too far, a tawdry thing involving an intern young enough to be the president’s daughter. It calls into question his judgment. Besides, it’s quintessential Clinton.

A woman claims she had an affair with Clinton or he hit on her. He denies it. Hillary backs him and sees a conspiracy. Much later, he admits the peccadillo but not the lie. “Monicagate” lends credence to all the women, troopers and travel employees who’ve leveled charges against the Clintons - and been leveled by them.

The pattern’s always the same. First, the Clintons huddle with lawyers. Then, the president or first lady, depending upon which one is in trouble, fields softball questions from an obliging television host. Next, they promise full disclosure - and do everything to impede an investigation. Finally, White House denizens or allies leak information, smearing the attacker. Oprah smiles. The polls rise. And the president starts talking about family values again.

The Wall Street Journal may be the only mainstream medium to cover the “gates” fully. Finally, other media have encountered a scandal that’s difficult to ignore because it’s easy to understand and boosts ratings. If they goofed by publishing that Clinton’s former intern had a semen-stained dress, they should be indulged. They’re not accustomed to reporting aggressively on the president’s scandals.

, DataTimes MEMO: For opposing view, see “Faulty journalism a scandal in itself”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides

For opposing view, see “Faulty journalism a scandal in itself”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides


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