Guilty


  When she wrote a book titled The Republican War Against Women, Melich really hit the jackpot. Without further ado, Melich became the very definition of the Republican Party—because when you think of the Republican Party, who does not think of “Tanya Melich”? The erstwhile unsung Melich was soon being described in news bulletins as a “lifelong Republican,”3 a “hot-blooded Republican,”4 and—most preposterously—an “unlikely critic of the Grand Old Party.”5 Touting her Republican credentials, New York Times columnist Frank Rich noted that she had been a Bush delegate from New York in 1992. And that's not all! She began her book: “I cannot remember a time when the Republican Party was not part of my life.”6 It doesn't get much more Republican than that, kids.

  If conservative scribblers and streamer-hangers who turn on the Republican Party from the left can expect instant stardom, imagine the enticements that await any of the thousands of employees of a Republican president who are prepared to trash-talk him. It's the same thing every time. The establishment media give the monkey a banana for throwing feces at a Republican and there's always a monkey who wants the banana. The identical carnival sideshow is treated like some shocking new development every time it happens.

  LIBERALS’ BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH SCOTT MCCLELLAN, GIVEN the way these transactions are generally handled, was how Hollywood doyennes were going to get this butterball laid. Their second-biggest problem was how they were going to treat McClellan like he was Diogenes’ One Honest Man after spending years mercilessly (and accurately) ridiculing him as an idiot when he was Bush's press secretary. One imagines washed-up Republican functionaries like McClellan showing up in a basement office at NBC and announcing they want to be rewarded for snitching on a Republican.

  WASHED-UP REPUBLICAN FUNCTIONARY SCOTT MCCLELLAN: I am here to offer to turn on all my friends and cohorts in a Republican administration.

  RECEPTIONIST: (pointing) Line's over there. (Rings bell) Next! MAN: Okay, Moonface, what are you selling?

  SCOTT: I was Bush's White House press secretary and I would like to write a book attacking him.

  MAN: I'm sorry, but there's room for only one oily homosexual apostate in the Republican Party and that position is currently held by David Brock. Move on, young man. You've had your fifteen minutes. Well said! Move on.

  SCOTT: Wait—but I overheard President Bush on the phone admitting he didn't even know whether he had ever used cocaine!

  MAN: You're not exactly saving abortion here, Scott. Don't expect to get “The Justice Souter” with that.

  SCOTT: What's “The Justice Souter”?

  MAN: You get a hagiographic profile in the New York Times Magazine telling “the rich story of a humble yet utterly self-confident man” with “both exceptional intelligence and a warm circle of friends.” Also, no one talks about how strange it is that you're an unmarried man who lives with his mother.

  SCOTT: I'm not gay! I just look that way. I'm a married man.

  MAN: You're married to a woman?

  SCOTT: Yes!

  MAN: And she's a heterosexual?

  SCOTT: Yes!

  MAN: Then you won't be getting “the Arianna Huffington.”

  SCOTT: She was married to a gay guy? Wait—she was a Republican?

  MAN: Are you kidding? She was Newt's best friend. She wrote a book titled On Becoming Fearless because she will marry a man without finding out his sexuality! You want fearless? That's fearless. It had absolutely nothing to do with Michael Huffington's billions of dollars. Why, she was as surprised that he was rich as that he was gay! She couldn't have cared less—

  SCOTT: Could we get back to my problem, sir. I'm going to need protection from the Republican Attack Machine.

  MAN: Boy, they weren't kidding—you are dumb.

  SCOTT: What do I need to say to get the undying respect of the establishment media—and maybe a teaching position?

  MAN: Now you're talking about “the Anita Hill.” Again, Scott, you're not saving abortion on demand. All you are offering is to endorse the conspiracy theories of Keith Olbermann. SCOTT: Well, what can I get for that?

  MAN: We might be able to do a modified “Joe Wilson” for you.

  SCOTT: He wasn't an insider!

  MAN: Yes, but he bravely titled his book The Politics of Truth. We had to buy the copyright on that title from Janeane Garofalo.

  SCOTT: So I'll get a Hollywood movie? A Vanity Fair photo spread? A hotter wife?

  MAN: I'm afraid not. Let's face it, Scott, air-brushing is a limited art.

  SCOTT: But I'm a real insider! And I'm willing to call Bush a liar!

  MAN: Okay, I know I'm going to regret this, but I'm prepared to offer you what we gave David Kuo.

  SCOTT: Who?

  MAN: You remember that guy—Christian, deputy assistant director in some “Faith” office at the White House, saidthe Bush White House secretly hated Christians, yada, yada, yada. SCOTT: What ever happened to that guy?

  MAN: We got him massive media coverage to call Bush a phony Christian. And we can do the same for you!

  SCOTT: But now no one remembers him …

  MAN: Remembers who? I can get you—Scott McClellan—a twenty-minute interview with Meredith Vieira on TheToday Show. The pope doesn't get twenty minutes with those gals.

  SCOTT: I'm listening …

  MAN: I can't get you a prime-time interview on a real network, but I can get Keith Olbermann to praise you for your courage for a full hour.

  SCOTT: Yeah, but that's Keith Olbermann. You said yourself—

  MAN: I'll have you know, Scott, that Keith Olbermann got 800 million e-mail requests to replay his blistering “Special Comment” demanding that Bush resign.

  SCOTT: He did not. MAN: There's a rumor that children all over America are memorizing it. It is soon to be a staple of the historic events all Americans know. Young couples are reciting it at their weddings.

  SCOTT: C'mon, cut it out—I'm not that stupid. What else can I get?

  MAN: Look at yourself, Scott. You're a man of limited faculties. You don't have a lot of options here.

  SCOTT: How about a review in the New York Times Book Review?

  MAN: Naturally. That goes without saying …

  SCOTT: Done.

  The media accuse Republicans of playing dirty pool, but they turn to the retarded press secretary for an attack on his former boss. Liberals control the rewards because they control the media. Journalists love to flagellate themselves for how brutal they were to President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal in order to scoff at the “myth” of a liberal media. They neglect to mention that these Clinton bootlickers had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the Drudge Report to cover that rather humongous story.

  Before reviewing the history of presidential kiss-and-tell books, let's take a peek at these guardians of our liberties in the fourth estate— back before the alternative media started scooping them all the time. This will be a preview of the aggressive watchdog media approach to the Obama administration.

  The reason it took thirty years to begin learning the truth about President John F. Kennedy is that a slavish press corps covered up his failings, rewriting history even as it happened. Prominent White House journalists of the day, such as Newsweek Washington Bureau chief Ben Bradlee and Chattanooga Times Washington Bureau chief Charles Bartlett sent their articles to Kennedy for his approval before publication.7 Bartlett and Stewart Alsop, a columnist with the Saturday Evening Post, allowed Kennedy to edit their story on one of the biggest disasters of Kennedy's presidency, the Cuban missile crisis. Try to imagine, say, New York Times correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller extending such a privilege to President Bush. Okay, now stop or you'll have to start hitting your head against a wall.

  Another complete fiasco of Kennedy's short presidency willfully covered up by the press was his calamitous meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961—a meeting that led to “the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age,” as a 2008 op-ed in the New York Times put it.8 For two days, Khrushch
ev used Kennedy as a punching bag, leaving Kennedy's own advisers white-faced and nauseated. By contrast, Khrushchev was ecstatic to discover that the U.S. president was “weak”9 and that he seemed to be leading a country that was “too liberal to fight.”10 The meeting was so traumatic for Kennedy, there are rumors he swore off prostitutes for a full week.

  But at the time, obsequious reporters helped Kennedy prevent the public from finding out about the disastrous meeting. New York Times reporter James Reston had an exclusive interview with a shaken Kennedy immediately after he had been shredded to pieces by Khrushchev. Although Kennedy did not hide his mortification from Reston, all that Times readers would learn about the meeting was that it was “more cordial than had been expected” and that there were “no ultimatums and few bitter or menacing exchanges.”11

  It was exactly the opposite of the truth—which I believe at the time was the above-the-masthead motto of the New York Times. Reston's account of the Kennedy/Khrushchev meeting was so at odds with reality that Reston was seriously considered for a Pulitzer Prize. Even when every Washington journalist was offering to perform exotic fetishes on Kennedy, we were told he was the victim of an unforgiving press corps. In September 1962, Reston ruefully remarked that Kennedy was more popular in the rest of America than he was in Washington.12

  Reston was there to cover up another Kennedy family misadventure seven years later. If you've ever wondered how it is that, in a country with an open press, Mary Jo Kopechne's death at Chappaquiddick could remain a mystery, here's your answer! Vacationing in Martha's Vineyard when Senator Teddy Kennedy drove Mary Jo Kopechne off the Chappaquiddick bridge, Reston dictated his story over the phone to the Times offices in New York. His first sentence was: “Tragedy has again struck the Kennedy family.” He finally got around to mentioning the name of the dead girl in the fourth paragraph. Even the Times's editors recognized that the “tragedy” might have been a little greater for the Kopechne family than the Kennedy family and rewrote Reston's story. A different reporter was immediately dispatched to cover the incident. That evening, Reston announced to the new reporter: “The story is over.”13

  Throughout John F. Kennedy's presidency and beyond, reporters notoriously hid the fact that JFK was a venereal-disease-ridden sexual profligate and drug addict.14 The courtier press was too busy manufacturing a nonsense image of “Camelot,” with rugged Kennedy men in an idealized American family out of Town & Country magazine playing touch football.

  If the hard work of Kennedy-besotted journalists wasn't enough to clean up the Kennedy presidency, there was always the Hollywood whitewashing in movies such as Thirteen Days. The producers must have missed the part of Khrushchev's memoirs where he said: “It would have been ridiculous for us to go to war over Cuba—for a country 12,000 miles away. For us, war was unthinkable. We ended up getting exactly what we'D wanted all along, security for Fidel Castro's regime and American missiles removed from Turkey.”15 Good work, JFK! Way to show Obama how it's done!

  When Seymour Hersh asked Associated Press reporter James Bacon why he never breathed a word of Kennedy's well-known affair with Marilyn Monroe, Bacon explained that “before Watergate, reporters just didn't go into that sort of thing.” Unself-consciously, he added, “There was no pact. It was just a matter of judgment on the part of the reporters.” I've never understood why it should be comforting that there is no “pact” when a uniformly liberal press uses its “judgment” to manipulate coverage of politicians for partisan purposes— held individually!—by each and every practicing journalist.

  If, as AP reporter Bacon told Hersh, it was “just a matter of judgment on the part of the reporters” whether to report on the president's torrid affair with Marilyn Monroe, his near-daily use of prostitutes, and his “daunting” list of drugs, as the New York Times finally admitted, including but not limited to hydrocortisone, testosterone, codeine, methadone, Ritalin, antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs, barbiturates, and Procaine injections16—in whose judgment were those stories uninteresting? Can I meet that person?

  Bacon claimed it was the shocking facts of “Watergate” that nudged the press into a more adversarial role: “Before Watergate, reporters just didn't go into that sort of thing.” This gets rather circular. There would never have been a “Watergate” if the press hadn't been a teensy bit rougher on President Nixon than it was on President Kennedy. Reporters are compelled by the facts of the stories they report to report them, but they are not compelled to report the stories they don't report because the public remains unaware of the facts of the unreported stories.

  In fact, Watergate was a boring story. The sort of skulduggery for which Nixon was crucified was standard practice in modern politics. Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Johnson had used the FBI and Justice Department to harass their enemies and tap their phones—often with the gleeful connivance of the media.17 NBC bugged Democratic headquarters in 1968. President Lyndon B. Johnson openly committed voter fraud to win elections in Texas, and he bugged Barry Goldwater in 1964. JFK's arm's-length attorney general Bobby Kennedy asked the FBI for files on steel company executives and sent agents to their homes to harass them.18 LBJ assistant Bill Moyers, now of PBS News, monitored the FBI's bugs on Martin Luther King's hotel room, distributing the tapes to select members of the Johnson administration as well as the press. Moyers also ordered the FBI to gather information about the sexual proclivities of Goldwater's staff.19 A decade later, President Jimmy Carter wanted to make Moyers director of the CIA.20 I guess it was just the press's “judgment” to flip from toadies to a howling lynch mob when Nixon became president.

  Or, in Carl Bernstein's telling, Watergate resulted from two courageous reporters breaking from the docile, pro-Nixon pack. Bernstein told Tim Russert that he and Bob Woodward had a “great advantage” in that they “were not part of that national press corps that actually had been taken in by the new Nixon and was writing about the new, gentler, kinder Nixon.”21 The members of the liberal attack machine work in perfectly synchronous action, but individual members of the wolf pack all insist on being hailed for their unique vision. One editor, apparently unaware that he was being “taken in by the new Nixon,” was so enraged by Nixon's landslide victory in 1972 that he said, “There's got to be a bloodletting,” adding “We've got to make sure nobody even thinks of doing anything like this again.”22

  If reporters like the president's politics, they will use their “judgment” to allow the president to put the entire country at risk with his whoremongering, amphetamine addiction, arrogance, naïveté, and on-the-job training as he manages a nuclear arms race with a godless empire. But if the media don't like the president's politics, they will use their “judgment” to call him a crook, even as he ends the Vietnam War, saves Israel from total destruction in the Yom Kippur War, and throws the Soviet empire back on its haunches.

  Reporters will use their “judgment” to portray Ronald Reagan, who brought peace and prosperity and, incidentally, ended a half-century threat of nuclear annihilation by the Soviets, as having brought about a “mess in Central America, neglect of the poor, corruption in government … and the worst legacy of all, the budget deficit, the impoverishment of our children”—as U.S. News & World Report editor Roger Rosenblatt put it.23 America's greatest president will be “judged” by expert Lesley Stahl to have presided over an era of the “largest deficits in history, largest debtor nation, can't afford to fix the housing emergency.”24 Even Reagan's reduction of unemployment to its lowest level in a decade will be “judged” a failure because, as Connie Chung put it, “this low unemployment rate is not entirely good news. Fewer people are looking for work.”25 And they called Reagan stupid.

  The different treatment of these presidents is not a matter of changing mores in the pressrooms. Three decades after Kennedy's failed presidency, the media's “judgment” was still to fanatically censor any information suggesting that perhaps JFK had not been a smashing success. For revealing the truth about Kennedy long after the fact i
n his 1997 book The Dark Side of Camelot, Seymour Hersh, a liberal Democrat, was venomously attacked in the media. The national press corps was in a blind rage that anyone would print the truth about the only man born without original sin until Barack Obama. As Canadian journalist Andrew Cohen remarked of the vituperation against Hersh's book: “The attacks have been too personal, the denials too practiced, the vengeance too gleeful.” No, he said, “there is something else at work here.” Hersh's book “desecrates an icon, as it seeks to replace an old truth with a new one. In doing so, it threatens the mythology of a generation.”26

  Absolutely true, but the myth being so ferociously defended is more than the myth of Camelot. It is the myth that there is no such thing as the liberal media, functioning as a protection racket for liberal politicians from JFK to B. Hussein Obama.

  A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRESIDENTIAL BIOGRAPHERS ILLUSTRATES which side really has the more fearsome attack machine.

  John F. Kennedy's biographers were more blindly worshipful of him than Monica Lewinsky was of her presidential crush, but substantially less dignified than the chubby intern. Among the hagiographic biographies of JFK are A Thousand Days by Arthur Schlesinger, Kennedy by Theodore Sorensen, Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye by Kenneth P. O'Donnell, and Sweet Jesus, I Wish John F. Kennedy Were Having Sex with Me Right Now! by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Such books were described by the Pulitzer Prize–winning Hersh as reflecting the authors’ “devotion to the man whom each accepted unquestioningly as his leader.”27

 
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