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Media Elite: The Wind Beneath Bill's Wings

Media Elite: The Wind Beneath Bill's Wings
by L. Brent Bozell III
February 17, 1998

It seems like it was a lifetime ago when the Beautiful People of Hollywood descended on Washington to celebrate Bill Clinton's first inaugural. They were there by the dozens, musicians and actors alike, dancing and singing that they couldn't stop thinkin' about tomorrow. And then, by and large, they disappeared. Seemingly no cause, no issue surrounding their man could excite them enough to publicly proclaim their allegiance to him.

Until Clinton got caught with his pants down.

At the February 5 White House dinner for British prime minister Tony Blair, glamour couple Barbra Streisand and James Brolin each spoke to the Washington Post in support of their boy Bill. "I wish the people who do these illegal leaks and the media who exploit them would show similar respect for the right to privacy and the presumption of innocence," Streisand remarked. "After that, it's no one's business what anyone does behind closed doors." Note that she virtually concedes that a sexual dalliance with Miss Monica did take place. Note also that Streisand finds it irrelevant that if true, Clinton lied through his teeth to the American people - including her - about it.

So what? And so what that charges of perjury are swirling everywhere? Brolin thinks it's more important that Clinton is "the most fun president we've ever had - I think we can all agree about that... The fact is, the job is getting done and he's enjoying himself."

For pro-Bill gushing, East Coast division, Tina Brown, editor of the New Yorker, laps the field. Brown also attended the Blair dinner and reported on it in the February 16 issue of her magazine. Herewith some gooey excerpts: "Close your eyes and enter this parallel universe, where the squalor and rancor of the trivia cops are temporarily shut out. Now see your President, tall and absurdly debonair, as he dances with a radiant blonde, his wife."

Unfortunately, Ms. Brown isn't finished: "His glamour is undersung. For those of us who had dismissed him as a garrulous, blow-dried, lip-biting occupant of the oval orifice [sic], this comes as a slight shock. Forget for a minute all the Beltway halitosis breathed upon his image. Forget the dog-in-the-manger, neo-puritanism of the op-ed tumbrel drivers, and see him instead as his guests do: a man in a dinner jacket with more heat than any star in the room (or, for that matter, at the multiplex)... His newly cropped, iron-filing hair and the intensity of his blue eyes project a kind of avid inclusiveness that encircles every jaded celebrity he passes. He is vividly in the present tense and dares you to join him there."

Whew. Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner, in a brief piece in the March 5 edition of his magazine, boosted the president by bashing the media. "The press coverage [of Fellategate] has brought journalism to a new low," charged Wenner. "Never has so much been reported with so few confirmed facts. Sources go unexamined for bias or motive; allegations substitute for truth... Falling ratings, along with the Internet and cable competition, have pushed the mainstream media's news cycle into hyperdrive, churning rumor and fact without distinguishing between the two."

The likes of Mr. Wenner know better, really they do. 1) The primary reason the relevant facts are unconfirmed is that the White House is stonewalling, in and of itself yet another Clinton lie. 2) If by "sources... unexamined for bias or motive" he means the likes of Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg, Wenner should find a new line of work. 3) False allegations might "substitute" for truth; accurate ones don't. Given what we do know, it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that not only are the allegations true (and, therefore, that Clinton is lying) but there is also more to the story yet to be uncovered. And 4) Clinton receives tabloid coverage because he leads a tabloid life. It's that simple.

Mercifully for the rest of us, there was one celebrity who actually made sense: "What I think most of the public is sick of in general in politics, and from [Clinton] in particular, is invoking the doctrine of relative filth, which is, 'I'm not so bad, as long as I can find somebody else who's doing the same thing, or worse'... He's a very talented man who cares deeply about what he believes in, but I do think that he has an obligation... to do more than just lawyer the truth." Thank you, Tom Selleck.