Accuracy in Media

When disgraced Congressman Gary Condit failed to clear the air about his relationship with intern Chandra Levy in an interview with Connie Chung, Democratic consultant Bob Beckel said Condit’s career was finished. Beckel said, “There were one or two nails in his coffin before last night, and as far as I’m concerned, he took the hammer and put them in. He’s gone.”

Beckel has been pounding nails into his own coffin lately. He got caught hiring a prostitute who tried to blackmail him. She serviced Beckel, who bragged about his high-powered consulting business, and she decided to shake him down. She wanted $50,000 to keep quiet about a sex-for-hire arrangement with Beckel. He wanted the police to charge the prostitute for blackmail but keep his name out of it. But when his involvement in the case was publicized, he lost a lucrative consulting contract and a job as a paid commentator on CNN. Embarrassed and humiliated, he’s threatening to sue the police for letting his name emerge in the case.

This is Beckel’s second major humiliation. He managed Walter Mondale’s 1984 Democratic presidential campaign so brilliantly that Ronald Reagan won 49 states. We don’t want to exploit Beckel’s personal travails, but there’s a certain matter of a double standard here. Remember that it was Bob Beckel who began what was called “a quiet intelligence-gathering operation” after Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore lost the 2000 election. It was described as “a last-ditch Gore strategy in the Electoral College.” He was checking into the background of Republican electors, with an eye toward persuading them to vote for Gore in the electoral college. A few GOP defections could have made Gore president. Beckel defended his operation, saying, “It is information gathering on my part, using my own network.”

Beckel claimed he was working independently, “on an ad-hoc basis,” and hadn’t contacted any electors directly. “I wouldn’t do that without first informing the Gore campaign,” he said. The Gore campaign said it was not seeking to sway GOP electors. What Beckel appeared to be doing was gathering information on those electors in order to pressure or persuade them to vote for Gore. That didn’t look good. When somebody did something similar against Beckel, he filed a police complaint. Beckel wants potential blackmail investigated in HIS case.

Beckel was an ardent advocate for President Bill Clinton when he looked the American people in the eye and said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never! These allegations are false … ” After Clinton was exposed as a liar, Beckel admitted that he had been a fool for believing him.

On CNN’s “Crossfire,” Beckel said, “I feel terrible being a fool made of by the president of the United States … I’m old enough to do it, and don’t care anymore. I would say to the Democrats on this, when it comes to Clinton, take the equivalent of the Fifth Amendment, and stay away from it.” One would have thought that Beckel would have learned a lesson from Clinton about keeping illicit sex a deep dark secret.

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