The media never display skittishness about purported sex scandals involving Republicans. In 1992, when President George H. W. Bush was running against the draft-dodging, pot-smoking horny hick from Arkansas, the establishment media gamely produced a long-ago-disproved charge that Bush had had an affair with an aide named Jennifer Fitzgerald. The rumor had been hotly pursued in the 1980s by a variety of news organizations, but they all came up dry. Ann Devroy, who was working for the Washington Post when the affair rumor first surfaced, said, “I spent two solid months looking into this in the early 1980s and I never found any evidence of it.”40
But in the middle of the 1992 presidential campaign, with a well-known philanderer running for president on the Democratic ticket, the very same mainstream media that was busy sneering at Gennifer Flow-ers's claim that she had had a long-term affair with Clinton—backed up with tape-recorded telephone conversations—suddenly was hot on the trail of Bush's already-disproved “affair.”
The only “evidence” was a quote from former ambassador Louis Fields that came out in a book published that year, although Fields had died six years earlier. Fields allegedly claimed he had arranged for Bush and the putative mistress Fitzgerald to use his guesthouse when they were traveling on official business. One of the dead man's “corroborating witnesses” confirmed that Fields said they had used the guesthouse, but denied that Fields had ever suspected they were having an affair.41 Nonetheless, the Democrats blast-faxed this tidbit from the book to a compliant media.
The resurrected, but still unsubstantiated, rumor was published in thousands of news reports during the campaign, including major frontpage coverage in the Baltimore Sun, USA Today, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and the Boston Herald, and a full-page story in the Philadephia Daily News. New York University professor Mark Crispin Miller wrote in the Baltimore Sun, “The press is obliged to pursue the story because of the way it pursued Clinton. To do otherwise would be unfair.”42 If the press covered Bush's nonexistent affair the way it covered Clinton's actual affair—as Clinton eventually admitted— editorials would be denouncing anyone who mentioned it.
A week before the false Bush affair story was relaunched by the media, the New York Times had issued a blistering editorial lambasting a “snarling press release” from Bush's deputy campaign manager, Mary Matalin, calling it “raw innuendo,” a “broadside,” “surrogate sleaze”— and claiming that the press release “embarrassed President Bush.” What was this foul excrement? Matalin's press release had mentioned Clinton's “bimbo eruptions”—a term coined by Betsey Wright, Clinton's own deputy campaign chairman. The Times went on to praise Bush for being “politically shrewd” when he had attacked an independent ad against Clinton that dared mention Gennifer Flowers.43 “Politically shrewd” is Times-speak for “a Republican who is about to lose.”
CNN reporter Mary Tillotson sprang a question about the alleged affair on President Bush during a presidential press conference with Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Bush was asked about it again in an Oval Office interview with Stone Phillips for NBC's Dateline.44 Bush angrily denied the claimed affair and reporters, who would have loved nothing more than to prove a Bush affair, found nothing to substantiate it.
But for voters without the time or inclination to investigate the details, the story was set: Both Bush and Clinton had been accused of having affairs and both had denied it. The ersatz symmetry was captured in a USA Today editorial titled: “Jennifer, Gennifer.” John Harwood summarized the situation in the Wall Street Journal, saying, “The allegations against both candidates are suspect. Ms. Flowers was paid by a supermarket tabloid to publicize her allegations.” As for President Bush, Harwood said, “the purported source of the allegation against Mr. Bush is dead.” Also, even if he were alive, his evidence was that Bush and his aide had stayed in his guesthouse. Flowers was a somewhat more direct eyewitness to her own affair with Clinton, and she had tapes. But for Harwood, the evidence of both affairs was equally scanty.45 With the benefit of hindsight, does it appear that the press was giving the voters an accurate picture of the two candidates’ alleged affairs?
Clinton was an absolute prince about the rumored Bush affair— while also linking his affair to Bush's—saying, “I didn't like it when it was done to me. And I don't like it when it's done to him. I felt for him. I like him on a personal level.”46 A mere sixteen years later, in 2008, Kurt Andersen told us what Clinton's real reaction was to the press coverage of Bush's alleged affair. (It's great how people like Andersen and Todd Purdum waited until 2008—when Hillary Clinton was challenging the angel Obama—to tell us the truth about Bill Clinton.)
Andersen said Clinton was introduced to a reporter from Spy magazine during the 1992 Democratic National Convention at a New York restaurant. Spy had just run a cover story with the bold headline “1,000 Reasons Not to Vote for George Bush—No. 1: He Cheats on His Wife,” written by rabid Clinton defender Joe Conason, or as liberal Mickey Kaus dubs him, “distinguished chronicler of George H. W Bush's alleged marital infidelity.”47 Andersen reports, “The future president smiled, popped to his feet, and ushered the reporter off for a private chat…. ‘I want to thank you guys,’ Clinton told the man from Spy, ‘for leveling the playing field with that piece you did on Bush's girlfriends.’ But were there more women? he asked repeatedly in the course of a several-minutes-long chat.”48
It's always the same with Democrats: The candidate gallantly forswears “negative campaigning,” while the press does all the dirty work for him, generating phony scandals for Republicans while burying real scandals of the Democrats.
But they are the victims of Karl Rove.
THE MEDIA's FAVORITE EXCUSE FOR COVERING THE PRIVATE lives of conservatives is “hypocrisy,” a one-way ratchet that apparently demands constant vigilance over the personal foibles of conservatives and a total blackout on much worse behavior by liberals. By peremptorily disavowing personal principles, liberals can never be accused of hypocrisy for not living up to the principles they cheerfully reject. Admittedly, everyone knows liberals have no moral scruples, but that's not what Democrats say when they are posing for the voters. President Clinton walked to and from church every Sunday carrying a ten-pound Bible for the cameras—and then returned from church on Palm Sunday 1996 to use a cigar as a sexual aid on Monica Lewinsky.
Why didn't this raise an issue of hypocrisy for the media about the Bible-toting churchgoer? How about his flashing Paula Jones when he was the governor of Arkansas? Former Arkansas state employee Jones held a press conference in 1994 claiming that, in 1991, Governor Clinton had pulled a smooth Cary Grant move on her, dropping his pants and asking her to “kiss it.” The establishment media ignored her for more than two years. If Clinton were not a pro-“choice” liberal, I think that would have qualified as “hypocrisy.” The Stalinist self-censorship only began to lift when legal reporter Stuart Taylor wrote a cover story for the November 1996 American Lawyer magazine, which took Jones's claims seriously and chastised the press for ignoring her.
How about John Edwards's hypocrisy? His entire political life was based on saccharine stories about seeing the light flickering while his old man learned math by watching TV.49 People had to take showers after watching Edwards deliver one of his hokey speeches about being the son of a mill worker. I can't imagine anyone watching him speak and not retching. Then in 2008, he based his entire presidential campaign on his selfless dedication to a cancer-stricken wife. Meanwhile, in order to pass the time between giving $50,000 speeches on poverty, Edwards was cheating on the cancer-stricken wife. No practicing journalist with the establishment media would be able to pinpoint the hypocrisy in that.
But as soon as pro-life, pro-gun, pro-drilling American woman Sarah Palin materialized on the Republican ticket, the press suddenly took a keen interest in hypocrisy again. Or at least their version of “hypocrisy,” by which liberals mean they have spotted a conservative— or better, a Christian.
In an essay posted on
Claiming that the Republican Party said Palin “speaks for all women” because she “has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies,” Doniger (O’Flaherty) proclaimed that Palin “does not speak for women; she has no sympathy for the problems of other women, particularly working class women.” I gather Doniger (O’Flaherty) speaks for women— especially working-class women—from her perch at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where she spells “God” with a small g and her university bio describes her “interests” as focusing on “two basic areas, Hinduism and mythology.” By way of comparison, Palin's husband is in the United Steel Workers union, her sister and brother-in-law own a gas station, she married her high school sweetheart, and she has five children. Doniger (O’Flaherty)'s classes, the bio continues, cover “cross-cultural expanses” including gender, psychology, dreams, evil, horses, sex, and women.51 At Newsweek and the Washington Post, that's working-class.
TO: Wendy Doniger (O’Flaherty)
FROM: Newsweek Fact-Checking Dept.
RE: Palin hypocrisy article
Confirm Sarah Palin is female despite being anti-choice.
Confirm G.O.P. ever said Palin “speaks for all women.”
Five babies not usually considered “lots and lots?;” better to use “lots.”
Womyn is misspelled women.
No other errors noted.
Katha Pollitt of the all-American Nation magazine blamed Palin for tricking the media into spreading ugly rumors about her children, giving Palin an opening to triumphantly announce her daughter's embarrassing pregnancy to the world. Just as Doniger (O’Flaherty) had said Palin was hypocritical for “outing her pregnant daughter in front of millions of people,” Pollitt said, “It takes chutzpah for a mother to thrust her pregnant teen into the world's harshest spotlight and then demand the world respect the girl's privacy.”52
What were liberals saying Palin should have done to shield her daughter's pregnancy from the press short of turning down McCain's offer to be his running mate. Oh, wait—now I see! Liberals think Palin should have refused the vice presidential nomination for the good of her family, which would have had the incidental effect of eliminating a great campaign asset for McCain. Once again, the Obama plan for victory was to force the other side to scratch.
Pretending they are doing something other than furthering the left-wing agenda, the media make up new rules for each case as they go along. If Palin was to blame for “outing her pregnant daughter in front of millions of people,” then was Bill Clinton to blame for outing his sex toy, Monica Lewinsky, in front of millions of people? No. Again, establishment journalists would be stumped at the comparison. The rules keep changing to accommodate new circumstances. The one constant is that only conservatives will have their personal affairs paraded before the public by an indignant media claiming to expose conservative “hypocrisy.”
Palin was a “hypocrite” because she was a Christian.
Love, The Mainstream Media.
Conservatives are adjudged guilty for sending inappropriate e-mails or foot-tapping in bathroom stalls. Those acts of base sexual perversion are enough to be driven from civilized society by the media if you're a conservative. Contrarily, Democrats are as pure as the driven snow—unless they sign a written confession. As long as Clinton said he did not have sex with “that woman,” there were only tawdry allegations from tacky people. Until John Edwards appeared on TV to announce that he had been cheating on his wife, his assignations with a former campaign staffer were off limits. Even when the evidence is overwhelming, headlines about a Democrat's scandal will announce, “Records Prove Accusations False, Aides Say.”
Winning the Quote of the Year Award from the Media Research Center, the Chicago Tribune ran the following correction on September 5, 1996—long after Gennifer Flowers, the Arkansas state troopers, and Paula Jones had given detailed accounts of Bill Clinton's legion infidelities (and the more honorable Dick Morris had already resigned over his infidelity): “In her Wednesday Commentary page column, Linda Bowles stated that President Clinton and the former campaign adviser Dick Morris both were ‘guilty of callous unfaithfulness to their wives and children.’ Neither man has admitted to being or been proven to have been unfaithful. The Tribune regrets the error.”53
THE 2006 SENATE RACE BETWEEN REPUBLICAN SENATOR GEORGE Allen and his Democratic opponent, James Webb, produced a potpourri of both alleged and actual ethnic slights, but you've only heard about the one from the Republican.
At one of his campaign speeches, Allen jokingly introduced a “tracker” from the campaign of his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, to the audience. Trackers are little Nazi block-watchers, who follow a candidate around, recording everything he says—and everything his audience says—so the selectively edited videos can be posted online for ridicule. Democrats think they are living in Nazi Germany if the government monitors phone calls from this country to al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan, but they have no problem with liberals constantly intruding on peoples’ enjoyment of public events with intimidating video surveillance.
Needless to say, it can be kind of a buzz-kill at a campaign event to have some sulking kid in the crowd filming everything. Allen also probably wanted to alert audience members that they were being filmed by a hostile cameraman and that if they asked a stupid question, they might end up as YouTube jokes. So Allen cheerfully introduced the Nazi block-watcher to the audience, getting in some swipes at Webb for being at a Hollywood fundraiser at the same time.
My friends, we're going to run this campaign on positive, instructive ideas and it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something.
This fella here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca or whatever his name is, he's with my opponent, he's following us around everywhere.
And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia and he's having it on film and it's great to have you here, and you show it to [my] opponent. Because he's never been there and probably will never come.
So it's good to have you here, rather than living inside the Beltway or—his opponent actually, right now, is with a bunch of Hollywood movie moguls. We care about fact, not fiction.
So welcome. Let's give a welcome to macaca here. Welcome to America, and the real world of Virginia.
Now my friends, we're in the midst of a war on terror….
On the basis of that, the Nazi block-watcher, S. R. Sidarth, claimed to be a victim of a hate crime. As he told the Washington Post, “I think [Senator Allen] was doing it because he could, and I was the only person of color there, and it was useful for him in inciting his audience,”54 adding that he was “disgusted” that Allen “would use my race in a political context.”55 (Using race is only appropriate in a college-application/affirmative action context.)
How self-absorbed do you have to be to think that you were singled out for being a “person of color” when you also happened to be the only person in the audience doing opposition research for the rival candidate? The son of a wealthy banker, Sidarth had grown up in an affluent Fairfax suburb, where he attended good schools and at the time was a student at the prestigious University of Virginia. The Allen event was in Breaks, Virginia, a town on the Kentucky border with a median household income of $23,431.56
Sidarth was probably the wealthiest person in the audience—the audience that he was there to humiliate. At least when the Cossacks rode in to rape and pillage, they didn't simultaneously cry that they were the ones being victimized. Today's privileged elites go to distant rural towns to ridicule ordinary Americans and then run back to the Washington Post to whimper that they have been mortally offended.
Notwithstanding reporters’ obsessive interest in Allen's “macaca” line, I note that the NAACP could not have cared less about the matter. When Allen spoke to the NAACP a few weeks before the election, he didn't get a single question about the “macaca” remark burning up the pages of the Post. Allen was, however, invited to become a lifetime member of the NAACP, which he did.58
Allen made his “macaca” remark on August 11, 2006—or two months after Democratic senator Joe Biden told a questioner of Indian descent at a town hall in New Hampshire, “You cannot go into a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking.” Biden's line was treated, as it should have been, as a buffoonish comment from a harmless fool. Indeed, Biden's repeated gaffes didn't even prevent him from being chosen as Barack Obama's running mate in 2008. Remarks that would be political death for a Republican are said to demonstrate “authenticity” in a Democrat, as an article in the New York Times put it. Biden's idiocies proved he “doesn't take himself too seriously.”59