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“During our lifetimes we commit certain irrevocable acts, acts that
impose irreparable injury, acts that become our or another’s
Rubicon. Injury to the psyche is no different from injury to the
physical body. We can slap someone on the back, and the sting of it
is lost in seconds. Or we can slap a loved one in the face and the
injury will be long and painful in healing and will leave scars
forever. When we lie to another, the injury is irreparable. When we
maim another verbally, the injury is irrevocable and the destruction
of trust irreversible. The act may be forgiven, and the injury may
heal, but the injury can never be repaired nor its scars erased.”
Gerry Spence (How To Argue and Win Every Time, 1995, St. Martin’s
Press, p.235)

It is most telling that this quote from Gerry Spence, the famous
courtroom cowboy, comes from his pointers about arguing with friends and
lovers. For the relationship between U.S. President Bill Clinton and
reporters of the pervasive mainline press has from its birth been a
relationship between lovers, each eager to overlook the other’s faults
for the pleasure of the beloved’s company.

Bill Clinton’s candidacy was first resuscitated by Sixty Minutes. It was
there, in America’s living rooms, that the Gennifer Flowers affair was
put to bed. Since then, the press has applied mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation to the president on numerous occasions: The deaths of
Vincent Foster and Ron Brown, obstruction of justice in Whitewater,
payoffs to Webster Hubbell, abuse of power and due process in the Travel
Office firings, and the amassing of 1,400 FBI background files on
political opponents. Most recently it was Paula Jones’ sexual harassment
lawsuit.

But prostitution is an unhealthy lifestyle, a lesson many reporters may
finally come to understand. In sworn testimony given by the President in
the Paula Jones affair he allowed that he did, after all, carry on a
twelve-year clandestine affair with Ms. Flowers. Why did the president
change his story? The deposition, taken under order from U.S. District
Court Judge Susan Webber Wright, had to be sworn to and was expected
to be sealed from the press and the public.

Slap! One can almost see the flushed red imprint of the President’s hand
across the faces of adoring reporters. Slap while agonizing in their
pain, reporters are dealt another swift blow: Monica Lewinsky. Young
Miss Lewinsky was fresh out of college and not yet twenty- one at the
time her parents pulled the necessary strings to send their daughter to
the White House as a volunteer intern. By the time she became twenty-
one, she had lost her innocence in a variety of ways.

Ms. Lewinsky made her allegations not publicly, but in a private
conversation with Linda Tripp, a Pentagon official. But Ms. Tripp knew
the ways of the White House having once worked there. “I saw what
happens when you go against them [the White House]. They smear you. They
crush the dissidents. And the White House has a lot of people at the
Department of Justice.” Ms. Tripp took out some insurance against
character assassination in the form of tape recordings. Soon the FBI had
wired Ms. Tripp to make their own recordings. Negotiations for Ms.
Lewinsky’s testimony are now under way between her lawyers and Whitewater
special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Also in Mr. Starr’s hands: The
president’s sworn deposition in the Paula Jones affair, acknowledging
that Ms. Flowers was, indeed, his lover for twelve years in Arkansas.

Much like a battered, live-in lover, the mainline press has reacted
predictably: They have lashed out at Ms. Lewinsky and Mr. Starr. Ask the
cops who handle domestic violence cases. They’ll tell you: both parties
turn on them. Prostituting themselves even further, mainline reporters
have begun quoting sources willing to disparage Ms. Lewinsky but only
on condition of anonymity. How courageous. Even the First Lady rushed to
deliver a below-the-belt blow to reporters covering the affair: she
called them part of a right-wing conspiracy.

The question for mainline reporters and the American public is simple:
Why is anyone surprised about any of this? It has become standard
operating procedure for the Clinton Administration. Almost four years
ago I wrote:

“…with less than eighteen months in the White House, now President
Bill Clinton, his wife, and his top aides have been implicated in
bribery (federal jobs in place of hush money), conspiracy to
obstruct justice (aides removed evidence relevant to Vincent
Foster’s death), evidence-tampering (Hillary Clinton’s law firm
shredded Whitewater documents), witness-tampering and intimidation
(aide Betsey Wright visited trooper Ferguson about bimbogate;
certain `bimbos’ had `their pretty little legs’ threatened by thugs
if they came forward). The list grows daily.” ["Forty- Something,"
Conservative Consensus, 27 May 1994]

Two years ago I suggested how the Clinton Administration would end. Here
are the closing sentences from that essay:

“During the investigation into Watergate, perhaps Hillary Clinton
herself can remember Alexander Butterfield’s meek and lowly “yes”
response to the question about whether recordings might have been
made of conversations held in the White House. That response sealed
the fate of the Nixon White House.

“The Apostle Paul spoke to just such a situation as this, in the days
when Rome ruled the world:

`God has chosen the world’s foolish things to put to shame the
learned; and God has chosen the weak in the world to shame the
strong. God also has chosen the world’s insignificant and despised
people and nobodies in order to bring to nothing those who amount to
something, so that nobody may boast in the presence of God.’

“Someone in the Clinton administration is getting ready to turn.”
["The First Liar," Conservative Consensus, 31 Jan. 1996]

Like a battered lover, the mainline press in America is in denial. And
while the press agonizes, two unanswered questions loom large: How much
pain and abuse are reporters yet willing to endure before they flee this
destructive relationship? For only then will they regain some measure of
self-respect. And when they finally do what they must, will the public
return that respect?

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