The Shameless Press
by Morgan Moalleman
The national press, in recent weeks, seized one last opportunity
to salute outgoing President Bill Clinton and his most "undignified
exit". In yet another example of the mass demonization of
President Clinton, the press squeezed just a little more blood
from the Clinton stone. In a decade long quest to discredit
and shame the last legally elected president, the press was
anxious to add a few more items to their laundry list of "Clinton
They bring up the charges, the charges are disproved, but the word "scandal"
seems to just hang around - unfounded, yet perpetuated by the media. How
many times have you heard the press refer to the Clinton "scandals"? What
"scandals" are they alluding to? Murdering Vince Foster? Fathering a child
with a black prostitute? Whitewater? Travelgate? The FBI filegate? - All
of these allegations have been painstakingly investigated and here's the
clincher - NOT ONE of these charges was substantiated in any legal process.
The lone, credible scandal, confirmed by the 11th hour plea bargain with
Independent Council Robert Ray, was the fact that Clinton gave a misleading
deposition in a civil lawsuit that was later dismissed by the presiding
judge for lacking substance. Volumes could be written as to the reasons
a partisan hawk like former Independent Council Ken Starr was even allowed
to expand his investigation of Whitewater into Clinton's sex life. With
what is now a matter of public record, score one for "scandal".
Considering that President Clinton is the most investigated man in history,
one would think that there would be a bit more meat to the media argument
that President Clinton is a scandalous wretch. But it now appears that
the press is not yet satisfied. More "scandal" is required to feed their
insatiable addiction for bashing all that is Clinton.
The bias displayed in the reporting of Clinton's alleged misdeeds would
be laughable if it weren't so meticulously orchestrated. How many times
have you heard them talk about his undignified exit without EVEN MENTIONING
that the charges of "vandalism" were yet another bogus, trumped up, smear
campaign. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, when pressed to give details
about the alleged "vandalism," declined to mention specifics or provide
photographic evidence. Fleischer only stated that the Bush administration
has "declined to open a formal investigation" on the matter and would
like to "move on". But that was all the press needed to write
their scathing editorials and provide fodder for talk radio and television
pundits. No consequences whatsoever for the perpetrators who spread the
lies - the un-named "high level" Republican sources. Not one follow up
article to find out who these sources were and why they lied in order
to taint the Clinton exit from the White House.
The Marc Rich pardon caused another hailstorm of criticism. Clinton has
stated that the reason he granted the pardon was because he was presented
with a convincing argument that Rich was tried in a criminal court when
he should've been tried in a civil court. That is the President's prerogative.
He is entitled, under the constitution, to pardon any individual "unless
they have been impeached." A 400 page report, outlining Rich's legal case
for a pardon, was never quoted or scrutinized by anyone in the media,
indicating that the news organizations did not research the legal merits
of the case. In stating this, I am not defending the Rich pardon, rather,
I am pointing out the inept journalism on display by the mainstream news
outlets. A more interesting aspect of this particular "scandal" involves
Vice President Dick Cheney. According to New Yorker magazine, vice President
Cheney's own chief of staff argued vehemently for clemency on behalf of
Marc Rich for many years as a member of his legal team. So it's no surprise
that the Bush administration wants nothing to do with the criticism surrounding
this pardon. But the mainstream media has ignored this nasty little tidbit
in their reporting. Big surprise.
And then we have the "theft of items on Air Force One" which was revealed
as pure fabrication by an Air Force press release, and later by George
W. Bush himself. According to the Air Force Press Office, the only things
missing from Air Force One were a few glasses and a couple hand towels.
If you read mainstream media coverage, you'd think that Clinton stripped
the plane of anything of value - oh yes, then sold it on Ebay to make
a few bucks. Once again, no consequences for the un-named sources spreading
bald-faced lies, just more Clinton bashing by the press corps.
Furthermore, we have the uproar over the Presidential "gifts".... oh,
I get it. It's okay for Republican presidents to receive gifts but an
abomination for the Clintons to do likewise. The press consistently distorted
the fact that the gifts were given to the Clintons throughout the 8 year
span of the Clinton administration and ONLY ACCEPTED recently. But the
right wing truth distortion machine was hard at work convincing the public
that the evil Clintons were accepting gifts in the waning days of the
administration to beat some Senate gift rule deadline. The first George
Bush administration walked away with approximately $140,000 worth of personal
gifts upon vacating the White House. That is in one 4 year term. The Clinton's
gifts were valued at $190,000 - that's over an 8 year term. Not to mention
the 2.5 million dollar BelAir mansion that was bought for the Reagans
upon their entry into private life. And isn't it amusing that we have
heard NOTHING in regards to other Reagan gifts - what were the rest of
their gifts worth? Not surprisingly, the press is not interested in digging
up that bit of information. That would interfere with the institutional
deification of former president Reagan.
It doesn't stop there. The Clintons were also accused of "stealing" gifts
that were meant to remain in the White House. Never mind that the office
of the White House curator has acknowledged that cataloging errors were
responsible for certain items being delivered to the Clintons. And that
the Clintons pledged to return the items after learning of the error.
But the press would have you believe that Clinton himself carried them
out the back door of the White House and into the moving van!
Does the biased press make an issue of these distortions and lies as
is their job? They do not.
The Republicans cook up delicious little lies and the press laps it up
and regurgitates it for mass public consumption. The Republicans have
honed their craft to perfection during the Clinton administration. Accuse
and retreat. No accountability on any front. One can't help wondering
if anyone in the press corps has a shred of credibility left. And they
accuse the Clintons of being shameless...
What IS shameless is the glaring media bias against the Clintons. A symphony
of lies and misinformation to further tear down a man who
has done an admirable and effective job as the president of
this great nation - in spite of unprecedented resistance from
a hostile Republican Congress. There was a time in America
when we believed in a concept of journalistic integrity. There
was a time that investigative journalism actually got to the
bottom of things - revealed the truth. Sadly, the Watergate
press corps of the 70's has devolved into the Monica Lewinsky
press corps of the 90's. God help us all.