Since New York Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned yesterday, many conservatives I know are wondering why he had to resign when Bill Clinton engaged in far more egregious action during his Presidency and got away with it.
I believe the totally different media environment that exists now contributed greatly to the different results. Back in 1998 when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke during the Clinton Administration, Fox News was still in its infancy and was not the media force it is today. The Drudge Report had just started and didn’t have the credibility it has today. In fact, it was Drudge breaking the Lewinsky story that gave the now famous Internet site its first big dose of credibility. In addition, there were no big independent Internet news sites, like the one operated by Andrew Brietbart, to examine and report on the stories the liberal main stream media wants to avoid.
For those of you who have forgotten, in 1998 several reporters, including the very liberal reporter Michael Isikoff, had much of the information on the Lewinsky scandal before Drudge did, but they hid the information until it broke on Drudge. Then, they had no choice but to report what they had already known for weeks.
None of this is surprising for those of us who have followed the news media for decades. Many reporters from Ben Bradlee on have known about the philandering of politicians who they favor, but they kept quiet about it because they didn’t want to hurt their political careers. Remember that the National Enquirer had all the information about John Edwards’s scandal long before the main stream media wanted to even admit Edwards had a problem.
Now the news media dynamic has changed considerably, but the Weiner scandal still indicates how far many in the main stream media will try to minimize any scandal that involves a liberal Democrat. When Andrew Brietbart first broke the Weiner story, many in the main stream media, especially at MSNBC, did their best to discredit Breitbart. It was only when the avalanche of evidence about Weiner was revealed that the main stream media had to acknowledge the New York Congressman’s culpability.
My guess is if back in 1998, Fox News and the Drudge Report were the media giants there are now, Bill Clinton would have had a far more difficult time staying in office. Add an Andrew Brietbart to the mix digging for the information the Clinton-loving main stream media would be trying to avoid, and I figure Clinton might not have served out his final term. Yes, there is a good case to be made that what Clinton did was far worse than what Weiner has done, but thanks to Fox News and Internet news sites, we now have a far more balanced news media.