Volume 94, Issue 91

Wednesday, March 14, 2001


Letters to the Editor

Media have themselves to blame for Clinton frenzy

Better bar scene in seven easy steps

Grump talks trash about darn kids and their drinkin'

Media have themselves to blame for Clinton frenzy

By Chad Finkelstein
Opinions Intern

Last summer, Survivor created an intense hysteria that engrossed the entire continent. As each castaway was ejected from the tropical island, major newspapers ensured front-page spots to cover the story. Popularity grew and the media coverage was heightened so that every day, more speculation about the final outcome was published.

When the final episode aired and pictures of the contestants adorned most publications, the stinging feedback commenced. Articles about the insipidness of the public's viewing tastes replaced those that once valorized the program. The media created a behemoth and then blamed viewers for the attention it received.

Recently, ex-President Bill Clinton has been subjected to the same treatment. Since he left office in January, his post-presidency ventures have been watched under close surveillance and scrutinized on a consistent basis.

He has been criticized for not being able to let go of the spotlight now that his time in office is over. The irony of course, is that Clinton – like Survivor – did not ask for the attention the media has provided, but rather has become a victim of it.

This trend became apparent in a recent Time magazine cover story, which contained an article entitled "How Can We Miss You If You Never Go Away?"

What aren't people understanding? Clinton is going away. In fact, he's gone.

But the media has chronicled every move he has made since leaving office, chastising each of them with the subtlety of an overwhelming fart in a crowded elevator.

They blame him, accuse him, criticize him. I don't think he's asking for the attention. Chances are, Bill Clinton is not calling up Time magazine to let them know that he bought an office in New York City's prestigious Harlem area. But the media followed him, then blamed him for taking the thunder away from Dubya.

Granted, the whole Marc Rich pardon incident was a graceless screw-up. Allowing constitutional forgiveness to a corporate fugitive is not the quietest exit with which a president may leave office. But aside from that, this was a guy who brought the most character to the White House in this half of the century (OK fine, the Dan Quayle potato mishap was pretty good, too). He balanced a budget and had the entire globe eating out of his hand, as we all strapped ourselves to the television to find out how a president imports and exports cigars.

So now his tenure is done, and frankly, I think he went out with style. After his staff removed all the "W" keys from the White House computers, he galloped into the sunset with the media as close behind him as it could get.

Bill got an office in Harlem – ooohh. Bill signed a multi-million dollar deal to write his memoirs – aaahh. Is this newsworthy?

The only reason Slick Willy is plastered on so many magazine covers and front pages is because, even out of office, he's got more character than Bush ever had. So Bush counterattacks by bombing Iraq? It worked better when I saw it the first time... in Wag the Dog.

So Time magazine asks, "How Can We Miss You If You Never Go Away?" Really? Maybe the media needs to go away for a while and see if that answers the question.

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