Friday, November 11, 2011

The best take on the whole Herman Cain accusations so far

Over at Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It, I found a link to this article by Elizabeth Scalia.  She pretty much says all there is to say.  If you're like me, and a growing number of folks, you'll admit there's something fishy about the way the media is handling Cain's crisis.  Yes, if he's guilty I think he should be punished, legally and politically.  It appears most in the media do as well. In fact, it appears some are wondering if the very presence of the accusations don't preclude him from office.  Just because he's been accused. And that's the problem. 

Now, to the Wayback machine, and we visit that little time in America's recent past (or ancient history based on the historical awareness that seems to be fostered by the Internet Age).  It was a time when our own president, Bill Clinton, had been accused repeatedly of sexually harassing a string of women.  During the course of investigating this, and looking to provide evidence that Clinton may not be the most reliable source when it comes to his honesty about sexual behavior, Ken Starr (remember him? Four Years and Forty Million Dollars Starr?) found that Clinton had lied under oath when asked about a sexual encounter in the White House.  This revelation came by way of a taped confession by a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. 

I feel the need to write all of this because to hear the media go after Cain, you'd think this never happened.  Anyway, when the news broke that Clinton was caught in a lie about an affair in the Oval Office, and one that he had lied about under oath in order to cover up allegations of sexual harassment, everything hit the fan.  The coverage, which has been debated and discussed somewhat in recent days across the blogosphere and in some Right Wing media outlets, happened in four basic phases:

Phase 1: The first hours after the story broke.  Almost everyone assumed that if it was true, Clinton was gone.  Not just because he had the affair, not just because he had the affair as president IN THE WHITE HOUSE, but because he had lied under oath.  When the late Peter Jennings dropped the I-word, most thought the jig was up.

Phase 2: Hillary Clinton appeared on the Today Show, and gave the press their marching orders.  It was all part of a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.  Granted, the Right had accused Clinton of everything under the sun, from being a Communist to being a Martian, so it wasn't hard to believe this was just one more accusation (even if some of the accusations appeared to have a grain of truth to them).  But either way, from this point on the MSM covered the story as if it were the Right's to prove.  More than that, they went after the Right, the Conservative Movement, and the Republicans with a vengeance.  We were also given story after story, interview after interview, in which architects, ex-Secret Service members, presidential staffers, former Intern, scholars, scientists, janitors, delivery truck drivers, and anyone under the sun assured us that it was physically impossible for a president to have done what he was accused of doing.  At the same time, suspicions fell upon Miss Lewinsky, encouraged by Clinton's Hunter-Killer team whose job it was to take out any who stood in Clinton's way.  Suggestions that she was just some crazed women like Paula Jones and all the others, began to emerge.

Phase 3: The Dress.  Perhaps because she didn't want to go down the road of others who got in Clinton's way, Lewinsky's mother presents to the world The Dress.   At that point, you would have thought it was over.  Realizing that Clinton had 1) lied under oath, 2) lied to the American public repeatedly, 3) falsely accused his accusers (both Lewinsky and the Republicans), and 4) had the affair during work hours while supposedly worrying about pesky fellows with weird names like Osama bin Laden, most assumed this was it.  Because the MSM realized they had been played like fools, their outrage was deafening.  For days and weeks, they went after Clinton.  Further anger arose at Clinton's elusive lawyering, his appeals to defining complex terms like 'is', and his general assumption that ignoring job duties, lying, committing perjury, and slandering honest accusers was no big deal.  What mattered was that he had given America the greatest economy in the history of the universe, and we needed to focus on what really mattered.  After all, his campaign was the one that first told us there are no morals, just money (as in 'It's the economy, stupid!)

Phase 4: The MSM realizes what this means.  The media had been under scrutiny for some time regarding our friend Mr. Clinton.  Going into the 90s, most Americans still believed the media was a source of relatively unbiased truth finding.  The 1992 election, in which the MSM showed a disproportionate amount of positive attention to the Clinton campaign, even though he was not the incumbent, suggested some bias was afoot.  Later, in the mid-90s during the Government Shutdown, it was hard not to see that the media was quick to blame only the Republicans for the failure of both they and Clinton to come to an agreement.  Their tendency to accept the Clinton Administration's narrative was beginning to suggest that the media felt it was their job to get Clinton elected, and keep him there.  And why not?  Most media folk by that time were liberal Baby Boomers, and Clinton appeared to be everything they espoused.  Gone was that crusty old WWII generation.  In was the newer, hipper, joint-smoking, sax-playing generation that would set it right. 

So it wasn't really that much of a shock when the tides of the media narrative began to change.  As movement toward impeachment began to pick up steam, folks in the media - perhaps because they realized what was at stake - changed how everything was being discussed.  For some reason, the Republicans continued to be portrayed as the bad guys.  Ken Starr, Linda Tripp, and others associated with the accusations were all but mauled by the media, popular culture, Saturday Night Live, you name it.

But that still left us with a president who had done everything mentioned.  A president who was still accused of sexual harassment - the worst charge imaginable through the 80s and 90s, one that almost destroyed a Supreme Court Justice's nomination.  What to do? 

The answer was simple.  It. Didn't. Matter.  It was all about sex, so who cared.  Most presidents had affairs we were told.  In fact, most men have affairs.  It didn't matter.  It was just about sex.  The word 'Sex' had been used, so that made it personal, private, irrelevant.  Let Clinton and his ever present family whenever he was seen in public, work things out.  It didn't matter.  Character?  Morals?  Values?  Bah.  Look at France.  Look at England.  They think we're nuts (even if the English were trying to use Prince Charles's dalliances as a reason to eliminate the Royal Family).  It didn't matter.  We needed to get to reality.  He had given us the greatest economy in the world (with critics concerned about the growing level of debt behind it all relegated to the VRWC), so we needed to grow up.  Who cares about such relative things?  Who cares about old puritanical values?  What president is perfect anyway?  Who cares?  The media said it.  Experts interviewed assured us it didn't matter.  Feminist leaders conveniently moved on and suggested Clinton's stances on unlimited pro-abortion rights were what counted.  And America, apparently, bought it.

That was the bargain that 66% of Americans accepted in order to keep the status quo.  A status quo that wasn't true.  Troubles were already brewing.  A subversive plot to hijack jet airliners and fly them into key structures and kill thousands was already underway, and undetected.  Signs that the economy was weaker than presented were beginning to show.  Our place in the post-Cold War had not been adequately established, as other competing powers were beginning to sit up and take notice.  And yet, we were told that everything was fine.  Things like sexual harassment apparently weren't that big after all.  Morals, character, values, truth, perjury didn't matter.  As long as we thought everything was fine, just look the other way, insist the emperor's clothes look quite nice, and all will be well.

The results have, of course, been devastating  on so many levels I can't get into them all.  It should be obvious to anyone with a brain.  But beyond all this is the blatant joke of the media's objectivity.  Anyone who can come out of watching their shock, their righteous indignation, their obsession with the gravity of the charges against Cain after having lived through the late 90s, and still think that the Media is all about Truth, is a person most apt to believe that babies are delivered by storks and the moon is made of cheese.  It is a person quite willing to live in a world of unreality for the sake of immediate and personal gain.  And I hope and pray a growing number of people realize this, since a country filled with 66% of that type of a person, doesn't stand much of a chance in the 21st century, or any century for that matter.

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