Congratulations on your latest publicity stunt. You made a lot of noise with your open letter to the president. So, I thought I would write an open letter to you.
Your request for forgiveness from President Clinton was really quite ingenious – insipid, shameful, embarrassing, but ingenious. I guess, with your recent track record as a worst-selling author, you need to be pretty clever just to keep your name in the public eye. It’s tough when the public doesn’t care about you, isn’t it? Lots of pressure. You lie awake at night wondering: Will there ever be another big payday?
You certainly have learned how to manipulate the media to further your own ambitions and ego. Instinctively you knew that a public apology to President Clinton for your reporting the American Spectator “Troopergate” story would make news, bring you more celebrity and increase your popularity in all the right circles.
It sure did all of that. Gosh, David, even Dan Rather mentioned you at the top of the news last night. I wonder why the networks didn’t give even half this much attention to the original “Troopergate” story? Did you ever think about that? I bet you did.
Well, you got your wish. You’re now a media darling – you, the guy they wouldn’t give the time of day when “The Real Anita Hill” was released. Still, I’ve got to wonder, David, is it worth it? I know you have done some demeaning things in your life, but publicly sucking up to Bill Clinton has to be a new low – even for you.
“I wasn’t hot for this story in the interest of good government or serious journalism,” you wrote in your Esquire act of contrition. “I wanted to pop you right between the eyes.”
I’m sure there are good psychological reasons for your political repentance. Did you think about how childish you sound in that letter? Are you stuck in some pre-adult stage of development? Are you crying out to Daddy like some pitiful prodigal son?
But, while unburdening your own tormented soul of its journalistic sins, you cast your sources – specifically, the Arkansas state troopers — in disrepute. Having spent some time with these men, I can tell you they are the salt of the earth. Larry Patterson and Roger Perry, in particular, took great risks to tell the truth about Bill Clinton and got no rewards for it. And you, the guy they helped put on the map, stabbed them in the back. Meanwhile, their colleagues who played ball with Bill received big federal jobs.
I also find it fascinating that you apologize to Clinton for a story you wrote, but you never explain what was wrong with the story besides bad motivations. Is the story not essentially truthful? Did the events described not happen?
I’ll tell you one thing that was wrong with your story. You libeled Paula Jones. I’ll never understand why she didn’t sue you, along with the president, for suggesting that she wanted to be Clinton’s girlfriend.
Nevertheless, you wrote the story. So, I guess you should be the best judge of whether it was bad journalism or not. I’ll take your word for it. But, let me remind you my organization, the Western Journalism Center, bestowed upon you the only journalistic award you have ever received. What was that award for? Presented in Los Angeles in 1994, the award recognized, among other things, your work on the “Troopergate” story.
Let me also remind you that back then, you weren’t living in Georgetown. No, no, not by a long shot. You were a struggling young writer for the American Spectator with one excellent book, “The Real Anita Hill,” under your belt. Only later would you see a big payday — a $1 million contract for “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham.” Lucky for you that money came up front, because the book sure didn’t sell.
Anyway, in 1994, the center gave you, in addition to a very tasteful and elegant trophy commemorating the occasion, a cash award of $2,000. I’ll bet that $2,000 meant something to you back then.
Now, since you no longer wish to be identified with that story and regret ever writing it, I assume you will be most anxious and eager to return the $2,000 award. In fact, I would say that if you have even an ounce of integrity left, you would rush that check to me as quickly as possible.
And, by the way, since you’re handing out apologies, remember the troopers, Paula Jones and, oh yeah, I’ll accept one, too.