Originally created 06/08/01

Press corps complicity



The political community is abuzz with the Vanity Fair story that the antipathy between former President Bill Clinton and his vice president predates Al Gore's failed presidential bid.

According to contributing editor Marjorie Williams, the two men disliked each other from Day One. That's one thing we agree with them both on - we didn't much care for either of them.

Williams continues on, saying the popular image of them, dating back to the 1992 campaign, being as close as two peas in a pod simply wasn't true.

Moreover, the close professional relationship the nation's two highest elected officials reportedly had was, if not untrue, at least exaggerated.

If Williams' account is accurate, it raises serious questions about the Washington press corps and others who report on governance and politics in the nation's capital:

How could they have gotten it so wrong for so long? Nothing is supposed to escape the ever-present, all-knowing media elites who cover the White House, yet they not only failed to pick up on the animosity between Clinton and Gore, they reported for most of the eight years the men were in office that the relationship was tight and friendly.

Either the media's best and brightest were lying all that time or they were incompetent. In any event, they've damaged the credibility of their profession.

Then again, it may be Williams who's bending the truth, at least to some degree. She says the strains between the two men were exacerbated in the wake of the president's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment. Yet it was Gore who stood with Clinton and other hyper-partisan Democrats on the Capitol steps after impeachment was over and proclaimed his boss one of the 20th century's greatest presidents.

Such high praise went way beyond the call of duty, especially if Gore was disgusted by the Lewinsky affair. Those remarks also tied him to the president's hip throughout the 2000 campaign, giving resonance to George W. Bush's vow to restore dignity and honor to the White House.

Had Gore made a clear moral separation from the Lewinsky and other sordid Clinton scandals, including the president's lying under oath, he would almost certainly be president today.