Democratic Underground

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 Scandals".

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.


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