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Clinton’s Shame

Once upon a time, “Fox News” meant class and competition

By Paul R. Katz

The dignity of television news was dealt a terrible blow this past Sunday when one of its most sterling outlets, the Fox News Channel, was forced to air some of the most unkind, hurtful, and––dare I say it––agitated commentary ever to see airtime. Ordinarily calm, even-handed, and intellectually honest, Fox was thrust unwittingly into the unfamiliar realm of the angry political diatribe when a guest lost his calm and flaunted his nasty, baseless feelings before the entire nation. Who was this guest who so compromised Fox’s reputation for candid honesty and unfaltering decency? None other than former President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton.

Perhaps some readers will be unsurprised by Clinton’s conduct. After all, he hails from the time before Republicans brought class and dignity back to Washington. Even while president, his demeanor never suggested the sort of rugged reliability and upstanding moral constitution to which we have now grown accustomed to seeing in our leadership. However prominent his shortcomings may have been, though, I refused to believe Clinton capable of such downright bawdiness as he displayed this past Sabbath morning. Sure, he might misbehave in the Oval Office, but surely Clinton would respect the gravitas of the Fox News Sunday studio.

Sadly, though, the former president proved himself lacking in both dignity and restraint. In response to host Chris Wallace’s brief and nonpartisan 48-second question accusing Clinton of ignoring al-Qaeda, Clinton set out on a rampage, exposing viewers young and old to lunatic rantings like “no no no” and “let me finish,” and explicitly terming Wallace’s balanced inquisitions a “hit job” (perhaps the most graphic two-word “job” ever performed on the former president).

Fox chief Roger Ailes was, like most decent Americans, taken aback by Clinton’s “wild overreaction.” Ailes took a charitable view of the incident, characterizing it as “an assault on all journalists.” Yes, Clinton had wiles enough to center his attack on Fox News, striking at the head and heart of the journalistic profession in one swift blow. But Clinton’s remarks characterize a wider assault, not only on journalism but also on the intelligence of the entire American people. Rather than attempting to excuse his gross failures in office, Clinton tried instead to argue that he actually had fought terrorism while in office.

Pathetically culling up obscure and discredited sources like former terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke and the 9/11 Commission, Clinton tried to pull a fast one on the American people by suggesting that he––a non-Republican––might have actually been tough about national security. Thankfully the Fox News viewing public wasn’t about to be led like sheep from a truth so obvious it hardly bears reprinting here: No Democrat cares about––let alone is capable of––protecting the American people. And to have done a better job at it than President Bush did prior to September 11th? Why, any thinking person need only look at Clinton’s record to see how uniquely ineffective a president he was.

After all, did Clinton kill Osama bin Laden? No! Did he eliminate al-Qaeda once and for all? No! Could he even do a little successful nation-building in an infrastructure-poor terrorism-connected country to which he had committed U.S. troops? No! He alone could do none of these things, not even one! That any president could fail at these critical missions and still claim success in the War on Terror is hypocritical almost to the point of comedy.

Clinton could use a few pointers from our current administration before he sullies television news with another of his ignorant rants. At the very least, he should take his dishonest and––worse––indecorous antics to a more appropriate forum, The New York Times perhaps. His kind isn’t welcome on Fox News.

Paul R. Katz ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, is a history and literature concentrator in Mather House.

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