Amateur psychoanalysis of public figures is one of the most annoying excesses of modern journalism. Media bigwigs would no doubt claim that the heinous beast, the Twenty-Four Hour News Cycle, requires eschewing the hard facts in favor of putting the news in "perspective." But in a commercial environment where news producers assume tedious concepts like executive privilege or articles of impeachment spell death by remote control, it is simply easier - and more fun - to carry forward the trite human-interest angles of the story.
Hence the ongoing media love letters to Hillary Rodham Clinton we are witnessing - at the expense of the truth. With the President's counterfeit confession, the media finally have assumed (at least temporarily) a skepticism toward the President's words. But in a burst of supportive psychoanalysis, anything the White House claimed was Hillary's fuzzy degree of knowledge concerning this scandal was presented as the gospel truth. We are asked to believe this woman, so brilliant, so focused, so knowledgeable - so disgraced by a husband implicated in so many extramarital affairs, including the overwhelming evidence of a sordid affair with Monica Lewinsky - learned the truth only days before his failed August 17 speech.
It stretches the bounds of logic past the breaking point.
But a number of journalists lined up with the sliver of self-deluders (11
percent of the public according to a Newsweek poll) who bought the White
House line. On the talk show "Inside Washington," Newsweek's own
Evan Thomas claimed "I couldn't believe it when I first read that she
didn't hear about it till Thursday. It seemed improbable to me because she's
so smart and because she's been here before. But I am beginning to believe it
now. I mean, our reporting indicates that she, it sounds implausible, but
marriages are complicated things and she may have just willfully decided she
didn't need to hear it straight from Clinton and Clinton may have held out to
the last minute before telling her."
It's precisely the years and years of journalistic tributes to Hillary's dazzling brilliance and tough-as-nails scandal-battling demeanor that make this spin so unbelievable. On August 14, the Friday before Clinton testified NBC's Andrea Mitchell tossed bouquets to the First Lady: "Politician, strategist, lawyer, protector - in a marriage that friends say is based on brutal honesty and unconditional love." Mitchell asserted: "Close friends say she knew everything from Day One and still went on NBC in January to deny all." But instead of disparaging a lying First Lady, Mitchell worried: "So how does she cope? What other wife would tolerate so much embarrassment? Two clues to Hillary Clinton's character: friends say she is deeply religious and incredibly angry, blaming Ken Starr, not her husband." (Is it a "deeply religious" activity to lie to millions of Americans?)
As Clinton's testimony ended on August 17, CBS's Bill Plante argued: "Friends of Mrs. Clinton say that she probably didn't know back then whether Lewinsky's story was true. Now, however, sources say the First Lady is aware her husband is changing his story." Flick channels, and Mitchell was revising her account: "Friends say the Clintons had a difficult, frosty, private talk over the weekend when she learned the real details of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky...Friends say she's known all along something happened, but no details, so chose to believe her husband's early denials." So much for the marriage based on "brutal honesty and unconditional love."
NBC anchor Tom Brokaw promoted the notion of a clueless Hillary the night after the speech. He began the newscast by asking "how does the President repair his relationship with his wife and daughter after lying to them for so long?" That question was acceptable in January. Asking it in August gives credence to the myth of ignorance.
Why should we - how can we - believe all these reports on the Clinton marriage, presented solely by anonymous sources and devoid of anything resembling factual evidence? If the private details of this train wreck of a marriage is none of our business, then why do the media and the White House keep exploiting it to gain sympathy points?
On January 27, Hillary Clinton went on national television, denied her husband's guilt, and defamed conservatives everywhere with her shrill and ugly charge of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." Today we are being asked by these media elitists to believe that those statements were not the cool, calculated words of a seasoned political strategist, but the expressions of a loyal-but-ignorant spouse. On both counts she was wrong: she was either seconding a lie knowingly or forwarding a falsehood of her own without checking.
Where are the apologies? Where is even the suggestion she needs to apologize?