Two time honored beliefs about the media were dented by our impeachment year: the right-wing notion that the press has a “liberal bias” and the left-wing theory that the media control public consciousness. Thanks to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, both now require fundamental rethinking.
For the right, the epitome of the “liberal press” is the New York Times, which endorsed Clinton in both elections, preferring him to George Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996, and has supported most of his policy initiatives. Yet in the Monica Lewinsky matter, when Starr’s abuse of power posed a far greater threat to liberal principles than anything the president did, the New York Times repeatedly devoted its editorial page to scathing denunciations of the president—more scathing than anything it had previously published about presidents Reagan and Bush. An example: “Until it was measured by Kenneth Starr, no citizen—indeed, perhaps no member of his own family—could have grasped the completeness of President Clinton’s mendacity or the magnitude of his recklessness.” (September 12)...
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