The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, June 20, 2004  

Items in the News
June 20, 2004

The New York Times Still Hates Clinton
What is it about President Bill Clinton that makes so many of the old gray ladies so nasty? This time, it’s Michiko Kakutani, reviewing Clinton’s memoirs, My Life.

Kakutani snarls: “In many ways, the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton’s presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration.”

Later she spews: “For the most part, the self-portrait that emerges from this book is not all that different a Bill Clinton from the one the public has already come to know: tireless, driven, boyish, self-absorbed and optimistic, someone riven by contradictions but adept at compartmentalizing different parts of his life.”

“Optimistic”? Didn’t Kakutani get the memo? The media already have claimed that descriptive for another former president and ladled it upon their distorted memories of his person and his administration ad nauseum.

[Post-publication addendum (June 21): For more on Kakutani’s appalling mendacity, see Media Matters for America: “New York Times’ Kakutani Twice Failed to Note Clintons’ Criticisms of the Times” and “Kakutani Struck Again: She Recycled Anti-Clinton Review.”]

[Post-publication addendum (June 22): See also “Still Smiting Slick Willie,” by Eric Boehlert at Salon. Lengthy pull quote:

[“[P]erhaps it isn’t surprising that Kakutani, without citing any proof, toes the Times’ house line and accuses Clinton of telling “lies about . . . real estate,” a clear reference to the Whitewater scandal. Yet even Ken Starr’s office of independent counsel, and his successor Robert Ray, along with the Republican-run Resolution Trust Co., came to the conclusion that the Clintons never ‘lied’ about Whitewater. Instead, they put nearly $200,000 at risk in the Arkansas vacationland venture and lost $43,000 in the end.

[Kakutani could not be reached for comment about the “lies” she alleges Clinton told. In an e-mail response to Salon, executive editor Bill Keller points out that “the official investigations concluded that there was insufficient evidence to accuse the Clintons of a crime. Deceit is not a crime. I think it’s well within a critic’s right to hold that the Clintons were not entirely forthcoming. The Ray report, for example, said they were prone to statements that were ‘factually inaccurate.’”

[But Gene Lyons, author of the 1996 book Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater, which dissected the Times’ prominent role in Whitewater, says, “Bill Keller should know not every factually inaccurate statement is a lie.” If that were the definition of “lies,” he says, then the Times’ Whitewater coverage has been littered with them.]

All in the Family
Is there a more irritating sub-genre of opinion writing than “observations of a new father,” especially when the father in question writes as dishonestly as this: “You surely know about the 9/11 attacks. What you may not know -- what I hope has already been lost in the mists of history -- is that a considerable amount of attention and passion was directed during the week after your birth toward demonstrating that we in the United States were somehow responsible for them.”?

What will Shayna think reading this 20 years from now, as dad John suggests? Perhaps something along the lines of, “So what were you back then, some kind of crank?”

Meanwhile, Shayna’s Grandpa P. has been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Good Corporate Citizen
Interesting things, one learns from commercials. For example, Whirlpool Corp. donates a new refrigerator and range to every home built by Habitat for Humanity.

A Bit of Dialogue
A bit of dialogue from “Silence of the Lambs” I missed the first time around but caught today: Clarice Starling: “I went to UVa, sir. It’s not a charm school.” It’s not?

That’s All
It’s Sunday; give me a break.

[Note: Items may be added to PP&T after initial publication.]

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