MARK JUDGE: All About the Narrative.
Of course, [former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie] spends a lot of time on Watergate, which turned the Post staff into movie stars and the Post from a small local paper to a rich international one. The reporting of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein drove Richard Nixon from office, an event that made journalism seem like a sexy and dangerous profession and that filled newsrooms with generations of elite liberals and hard-core leftists.
However, the person who comes off the worst in All About the Story is not Nixon, but Hillary Clinton. Downie’s dislike for Clinton is palpable. When in 1994 the paper began “pursuing significant questions about the relationship the Clintons had with the failed Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan Association in Little Rock, Arkansas, when Bill was governor,” Downie and the first lady had a tense meeting at the White House. Clinton was irritated that the Post was reporting on the federal investigation into the Clintons and their deals in Little Rock, yet she refused to turn over any documents related to the case. Downie would not back down. Clinton then switched the subject to the various women who were claiming to have had affairs with her husband—a kind of preemptive strike against their credibility. (She would also dispatch George Stephanopoulos to have lunch with Downie and try to kill the stories.) After the meeting, Clinton began to spread rumors that Downie was out to get them and that he was jealous of Ben Bradlee. Despite being criticized by other journalists and liberal activists, Downie defends his coverage: “I strongly believe that we did what we should have done in holding the Clintons accountable for their behavior. Even as I write this, I believe that there remain significant unresolved questions about the veracity of both Clintons.”
Well, not everything; its sister magazine Newsweek, then owned by the Post, couldn’t be bothered to break the story on Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Or as Mark Steyn wrote in 2018: “It was twenty years ago today/Slick Willie taught the intern to play!”
The drama of January 1998 put certain words and phrases in the public discourse for the next two years, including “impeachment”, “vast right-wing conspiracy”, “the meaning of ‘is’”, and “completion”, which President Clinton was said by Monica in the Starr Report not to reach.
Yes, it was twenty years ago today/Slick Willie taught the intern to play! In a sense, the Clintons have never reached completion — which is why, two decades on, the news is full of Uranium One, Hillary-commissioned dirty dossiers and Huma’s emails — not to mention the exposure of Harvey Weinstein and other Clinton buddies for availing themselves of the same interns-with-benefits approach to the workplace. We may run some old pieces from the Dawning of the Age of Incompletion in the weeks ahead. But, if you’re wondering what we were talking about before Monica, the answer is Paula – who became near totally eclipsed by Miss Lewinsky.
The Age of Incompletion also kicked off the age of new media, beginning with a young man with a DIY Website named Matt Drudge, who published the Lewinsky story that then-Washington Post-owned Newsweek had spiked, because – say it with me:
The bill came due eventually, though — the Post sold Newsweek for a dollar in 2010, only for the Graham family to see its newspaper acquired three years later by Jeff Bezos, reportedly for about the same amount of money he paid for the first three seasons of his Grand Tour car TV series on Amazon Prime.
(As to what’s happened in the last few years to Matt Drudge, that’s an entirely different story, one that appears not to have a satisfactory answer. A year ago, Steve linked to an article headlined, “Matt Drudge confirms he still runs Drudge Report.” As he wrote in response, “Could Have Fooled Me.”