A very enjoyable read indeed is Jack Shafer’s “Bill Clinton, Press Critic.”
Since when do individual stories have to be “balanced”? I blame the “fair and balanced” Fox News Channel for popularizing the idea that reporters must strive for some sort of Platonic equilibrium or they’re not producing proper journalism. Such comprehensive coverage is neither possible nor desirable (“Mr. Hitler, who was responsible for the unnecessary deaths of millions, loved children”), and the testimonies of the 1.3 million people whose lives President Clinton has “helped save” don’t really have any bearing on Purdum’s thesis that Clinton’s post-presidential personal behavior, personal associations, and financial dealings all suggest conduct not becoming the spouse of a U.S. senator who is running for president.
The Clinton letter races to irrelevancy after that, demanding that readers know about “Vanity Fair’s Troubling Ethical History.” Yes, the magazine’s been sued for libel, but that falls several thousand miles short of “Troubling Ethical History.” Yes, Vanity Fair Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter has capitalized “on his position at Vanity Fair to explore consulting and investment deals,” but what does that have to do with the Clinton piece?
Shafer is too gentlemanly to pounce on that last bit, but modern science cannot quantify the gall it takes for Bill Clinton to criticize somebody for trying to cash in on the cachet of his old job.