The latest edition of Gentleman’s Quarterly — GQ for short — has just hit the stands. On its cover is an in your face photograph of former President Bill Clinton, as he “Leads (Their) Men of the Year Issue”.
“Bill Clinton – Public Citizen” is the fawning Clinton tosh we have all come to expect. It is thirteen magazine pages with small type and large pictures, and authors George Saunders (in word) and Brigitte Lacombe (on camera) could not be any more in thrall to the man from Hot Springs (not Hope).
But there is more than just that to this tale.
This cover glory almost did not come to pass.
The media’s seeking to be in the good graces of the Clintons routinely comes at the expense of their search for the truth.
Flash back to June of this year: GQ was then on the verge of swerving into actual journalism. Atlantic Monthly staff writer Josh Green was on assignment for the “Look Sharp – Live Smart” publication, and he had put his pen to their paper and drafted an expose on in-fighting amongst members of the Hillary Clinton Campaign.
It was finished and ready for press. Unfortunately for Green, Hillary’s husband got wind of it and issued via surrogate Jay Carson an ultimatum: kill the story, or access to his Highness for the Saunders print puffery would be withdrawn and GQ would never again be granted an audience with either member of the royal couple.
With an opportunity to break serious, choice news about internal problems within Team Clinton, Editor Jim Nelson chose instead to create internal problems of his own within GQ by ignoring protests from his underlings and spiking the story.
Saunders and Lacombe, who were packing to go on July safari with Bill for what became the December article, were thusly allowed to finish topping off their three ounce toiletry bottles and head out with the High-Chair President.
The reasons for this decision? For one, Team Clinton, wife but especially husband, are media rock stars. Very few people (Oprah Winfrey is another, much to their recent chagrin) move copy and copies to the great degree that these two.
So true is this that GQ found it inconceivable to have a Men of the Year issue that did not include, indeed build around, Bill. Faced with the prospect of losing out on his newsstand clout, GQ chose to head for the hills when integrity came calling.
Flash back again, this time to January 17th, 1998 when the Monica Lewinsky story broke.
It was Matt Drudge’s to dish only because Newsweek magazine’s editors were sitting on the work of reporter Michael Isikoff, who had the goods on Bill but was denied access to the delivery device.
Even then, with the din raised by the Drudge Report, it was an additional four days before any traditional media outlet (the Washington Post finally chimed in) deigned to go public with the story.
This was not the result of an explicit quid pro quo of media silence for continued access, but a reflexive defensive posture taken by them to rally around their ideological soul mates. Thus a matter of culture, not conspiracy.
These are incredibly dangerous standards to set for the coverage of a candidate or an office holder. The media’s perpetual quest for sanctuary in the Clintons’ good graces comes at the expense of their search for the truth.
We had eight years over which to pore and wonder what was shaded, and what was not told, of Bill and Hillary in the 1990s. And we are already getting a taste of what the next forty-eight or ninety-six months will be like. The greasing of the skids for the Clintons has begun again. Actually, it never stopped.