White House Adultery? Nobody in the Press Wants to Know
by L. Brent Bozell III
December 24, 1996
Long-time Friend of Bill David Watkins has told a tale no one wants to hear. No one in the establishment media, that is. As transcribed by Rebecca Borders in the latest issue of The American Spectator, Watkins declares the President and First Lady are having affairs in the White House. Complete media silence is the reaction. What's their excuse this time?
Watkins' claims of an affair between Hillary Clinton and the late Vince Foster rest on personal conversations his wife Ileene had with Foster intimates and as well her accounts documenting how Mrs. Clinton was shunned by the Foster family at the funeral. Harrumph, say the media. Nothing but second-hand stuff then. No evidence. No story.
But the allegation of an affair between President Clinton and presidential aide Marsha Scott is another matter. Not merely did Mrs. Watkins hear of the affair directly from Ms. Scott. On the night of Foster's death, the Spectator discovered, White House logs show Scott arrived in the residential quarters of the White House at 12:50 pm with other presidential aides; the others left around 1:30, but not Scott. When asked when she went home that night, Scott gave congressional investigators this answer: "It's a blur." First-hand evidence of a present-day scandal. So why the silence?
Is it because Watkins is a disgruntled employee? Watkins is far more than just that. He was tight enough in the Clinton inner circle that they paid off a sexual-harassment claim made against him during the 1992 campaign, partially with federal matching funds (yet another scandalous story completely ignored by the supposedly feminist networks). Anita Hill was also a disgruntled employee, passed over for promotions by Clarence Thomas. Did that prevent the media from swarming all over her unsubstantiated allegations? The same might be charged of the sexual accusers of Newt Gingrich, John Tower, and George Bush.
High-minded media ethics just aren't consulted when the targets are liberal enemies. The New York Times ran Kitty Kelley's stories of a Frank Sinatra-Nancy Reagan affair without asking Maureen Dowd to check any sources, and had Fox Butterfield snooping in Patricia Bowman's windows in an attempt to smear William Kennedy Smith's accuser. Tower was savaged by CBS, whose source was discharged for mental imbalance. When writer Susan Trento claimed Bush had an affair, she appeared on two network morning show appearances, although she had no evidence to provide.
Maybe it's because the media don't care about extramarital adventures anymore? Try again. In August 1995, Vanity Fair writer Gail Sheehy peddled allegations of affairs by Newt Gingrich. CNN reported the allegations before the magazine hit the stands. "CBS This Morning," the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio all followed within ten days. CNN's "Reliable Sources" moderator Bernard Kalb went so far as to demand coverage: "Is there a double standard at work?...When President Clinton was hit by stories about alleged sexual escapades and so forth, I'm thinking of Paula Jones and so forth, the media circled around like buzzards." No, Bernie, not really. The media ignored the story for three months until the President hired a lawyer.
Kalb should now be asking: Will we see morning shows putting on Watkins to tell us what he knows? Will any assignment editors even ponder investigating the story? Of the networks, only CBS made perfunctory inquiries into the Spectator story before ignoring it like everyone else.
The cold, hard facts are that the 89-percent pro-Clinton media don't want to ask Clinton the questions, and they don't want to know the answers, if for no other reason than they will look very foolish indeed. Here's why they should ask. What do these revelations do to five years of public relations puffery of the Clinton marriage? Have reporters like Time's Margaret Carlson been constructing elaborate lies - or are they just dupes? On one Valentine's Day, she wrote in Time and Vanity Fair: "They exchange gifts and touch each other more in two hours that the Bushes did in four years." What to say now? Will the producers of "60 Minutes" make up for foisting a false portrait of ended adultery in 1992?
Two years ago, when the Spectator brought forth the ugly truth of troopers used by Clinton as pimps, Michael Kinsley cast many aspersions before declaring: "It would bother me greatly if Clinton was still messing around after the '60 Minutes' interview - let alone after the election. That would reveal a brutal willingness to deceive the public - way beyond the normal politicians' cynicism - as well as a frightening lack of self-control."
For Kinsley and Co. in the establishment press, a lack of self-control is not the problem. Control is something they mastered long ago. And now, with the boss in trouble again, they're showing just how good they are at damage control, too.