Politics & Policy

End the Whitewash

Americans need and deserve the whole Hillary history.

From the moment Hillary Clinton walked onto the national stage, the media hailed her as a woman on the verge of history, a feminist trailblazer, a pioneer of women’s liberation, like a female Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in Guccis. If her husband was elected president, she would be the first First Lady to have an “independent” career of her own. The many liberals and feminists now in the press corps could visualize one of their own as a White House spouse, chafing at the demand to glue on a plastic smile and pretend she lived for the annual Easter Egg Roll, choosing instead to use her honorary office to strike blows for “social justice.” Empathy for Hillary’s pioneer plight oozed between every sentence of many Woodstock generation media accounts.

It’s a pattern we have seen repeated again and again in the 15-plus years since.

When it comes to Hillary Clinton, the national media have flagrantly abandoned their duty as a supposedly independent, dispassionate press. They have shamelessly served as cheerleaders for Mrs. Clinton from the moment she emerged on the national scene in 1992, with Time’s Margaret Carlson describing her as “an amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.” Liberal reporters — and, truth be told, female liberal reporters especially — have hailed her as a feminist role model, a brilliant intellect, a politician of striking compassion, an inspiring leader, and more.

What makes the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton even more deplorable are the recurring examples of noncoverage. Over and over they have refused to cover Mrs. Clinton’s staggering number of personal, political, and financial scandals, ignored her leftist political agenda, and dramatically downplayed her significant political failures. Plain and simple, they have whitewashed her record to turn her into the formidable presidential candidate we’re all assured she is.

Of course, Hillary’s supporters, in and out of the media, love to tell us that no one has been has been more investigated or scrutinized than Hillary Clinton. But that claim is not just wrong, it is utterly absurd.

We need to take a step back to discuss what constitutes a “news” story in the first place. A news story on a political scandal involves a few stages. First there is the allegation, which, if it carries a whiff of credibility, leads to the second step — investigation. A thorough investigation, examining all the angles while seeking independent confirmation of charges, is complete only when it has reached the third stage of the process — resolution, where the theoretical, the hypothesis, is proven or disproven and there is now fact, truth.

That is how the investigative process should work. But in the case of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the liberal media have consistently refused to cover credible allegations, even when other media sources were uncovering one scandalous action after another. In fact, not one Hillary scandal has ever reached the final step of resolution, with every question answered, the complete story told. Instead, the so-called mainstream have ignored charges against Mrs. Clinton, and reported credible allegations only when they could no longer be ignored. Even when the media have reported on certain allegations, they’ve stopped well short of resolution, bailing out before the answers might damage Hillary’s reputation.

In most cases the only serious investigation following an allegation has focused not on Hillary but on her critics, constantly calling into question her accusers’ integrity and honesty. Every disagreement with her ideological agenda is presented as an episode in discrimination, carried out by those who are made uncomfortable by strong women. Every attempt to address her scandalous behavior is presented as an exercise in the politics of character assassination. In the court of Hillary media coverage, the plaintiff always becomes the accused.

When Hillary’s defenders — and Senator Clinton herself — become outraged at her “attackers,” they are expressing an anger common on the left these days: anger at the fact that they no longer have a monopoly on the news in this country. To be sure, the liberal media still dominate the airwaves and the presses, meaning that they retain extraordinary influence over how we see the world. But the “alternative media” — cable television, talk radio, news websites, and blogs — have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, precisely at the time that Hillary Clinton emerged as a national figure. Many of these outlets have stepped in where the traditional media have abandoned their duty to explore serious questions about our political leaders. For having the temerity to seek the truth, they are blasted as “Clinton haters” and “persecutors” straight out of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Even in the face of these relentless attacks, the upstart alternative media, and some intrepid government investigators, have done important work in trying to get at the truth. It also needs to be recognized that several times some in the establishment media have dipped their toes in the investigative waters and reported their initial findings before abandoning the search. Were it not for their efforts, the American people never would have learned of virtually any of the scandals surrounding and involving Hillary Clinton.

Yet despite those efforts, though, the truth about Mrs. Clinton remains hidden from most Americans — because the still-powerful liberal media have buried the stories or exercised damage control on behalf of Hillary when they could no longer dismiss a topic altogether.

Team Hillary are always quick to dismiss any mention of the candidate’s ugly record as “old news.” The “objective” news media, still obsessed with George W. Bush’s 1971 National Guard record, will agree, simply yawn — oh, we’ve heard it all before. But in fact we haven’t heard it before, because the liberal media have made sure the real story was never reported.

That is why it is so essential to chronicle Mrs. Clinton’s years on the national scene — not to rehash “old news,” but to expose the flaws, failures, and scandals for which the press corps have never held Hillary accountable. As you’ll see, even on the campaign trail for Bill Clinton in 1992, she was the same scandal-plagued, domineering, and, yes, deceitful figure we recognize today. The ugly character traits, as well as the liberal ideology and poor political judgment, have been there from the beginning. But a servile press corps will never tell you that.

Without question, no political figure in America today has benefited more from a water-carrying media than Hillary Rodham Clinton. The flattery and damage control only continue as Hillary ramps up her presidential campaign. If the media refuse to seek out the truth, we must step in to fill the role they have abandoned. It’s not about “attacking.” It’s about letting the American people have the full story so they can judge for themselves whether this media phenomenon is fit to be president.

— L. Brent Bozell III is the founder and president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is MRC’s Director of Media Analysis. They are the co-authors of the book Whitewash: What the Media Won’t Tell You About Hillary Clinton, But Conservatives Will, from which this is excerpted.


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