June 23, 2004

OT: Something To Think About [4:47 pm]

From Eschaton: Clinton on the Press

From his book:

I was genuinely confused by the mainstream press coverage of Whitewater…One day, after one of our budget meetings in October, I asked Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming to stay a moment to talk. Simpson was a conservative Republican, but we had a pretty good relationship because of the friendship we had in common with his governor, Mike Sullivan. I asked Alan if he thought Hillary and I had done anything wrong in Whitewater. ‘Of course not,’ he said. ‘That’s not what this is about. This is about making the public think you did something wrong. Anybody who looked at the evidence would see that you didn’t.’ Simpson laughed at how willing the ‘elitist’ press was to swallow anything negative about small, rural places like Wyoming or Arkansas and made an interesting observation: ‘You know, before you were elected, we Republicans believed the press was liberal. Now we have a more sophisticated view. They are liberal in a way. Most of them voted for you, but they think more like your right-wing critics do, and that’s much more important.’ When I asked him to explain, he said, ‘Democrats like you and Sullivan get into government to help people. The right-wing extremists don’t think government can do much to improve on human nature, but they like power. So does the press. And since you’re President, they both get power the same way, by hurting you.’ I appreciated Simpson’s candor and I thought about what he said for months. For a long time, whenever I was angry about the Whitewater press coverage I would tell people about Simpson’s analysis. When I finally just accepted his insight as accurate, it was liberating, and it cleared my head for the fight.

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