Accuracy in Media

Now that a stroke victim with dementia has been trotted forward as Deep Throat, the liberal media have been patting themselves on the back for bringing down President Richard Nixon. But as one of our readers, Creag Banta, noted, “As long as reporting on Watergate ends with Nixon’s resignation and does not include boat people and killing fields, the true fear driving Nixon’s actions, the story is incomplete and inaccurate.”

The National Legal and Policy Center has made the same point: “Richard Nixon’s forced resignation weakened the nation while it was at war in Vietnam. The 1974 elections resulted in a Congress which cut off aid to South Vietnam, unleashing a Communist bloodbath in Southeast Asia which claimed millions of lives.”

These are the facts about the impact of Watergate. Blaming Nixon for Watergate does not mean the Communist bloodbath did not occur. But will the liberals take responsibility for that?

This is relevant today because it appears that the liberals are laying the groundwork for another Watergate. This time, of course, the target is George W. Bush. Rep. John Conyers, one of the most far-left members of Congress, has been making sounds about filing impeachment charges against Bush. Since ABC news reporter Terry Moran said that members of the White House press corps hate Bush, we can anticipate this campaign getting some attention in the press. An impeachment drive would not succeed but it would help to weaken Bush and the presidency at a time of war.

Nixon was forced out of office for corrupt practices which occurred under other administrations: Victor Lasky’s classic book, It Didn’t Start With Watergate, set the record straight on that score. Other scandals that received far less attention included:  FDR’s Pearl Harbor cover-up, blaming Admiral Kimmel for the disaster; the stolen presidential election of 1960 that put John F. Kennedy in the White House; Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s bugging of the phones of Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Clinton administration abuse of the IRS and FBI to go after their political “enemies.”

In regard to Clinton, as noted by Peter Flaherty of the National Legal and Policy Center noted, “Far more serious abuses took place in the Clinton administration, yet Clinton finished his term.” One reason for that, as noted by Stephen Jones during a Watergate symposium last February, is that Nixon had a sense of shame for the mistakes that he made. By contrast, Clinton had no sense of shame.

Flaherty, in a column posted on his web site compares the Nixon and Clinton cases, finding:

  • “Clinton personally committed felonies by lying under oath in a civil deposition and to a grand jury. Nixon faced three Articles of Impeachment which held him responsible for the acts of subordinates of which he had no advance knowledge.”

  • “One Article of Impeachment against Nixon was that he lied to the American people. Nixon was never accused of lying under oath. Clinton lied repeatedly to the American people. He was the first President in history to be accused of lying under oath.”

  • “Nixon aides went to prison for viewing the contents of a handful of FBI files. Clinton staffers pawed through hundreds. Evidence suggests that the First Lady may have initiated and/or orchestrated file invasions. Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon got caught leaking Linda Tripp’s personnel file.”

  • “abuses [were] far more extensive under Clinton, from the White House ordering the FBI to put out a press release accusing the innocent Billy Dale of crimes, to the IRS audits of dozens of conservative organizations.”

  • “Nixon’s assertion of Executive Privilege led to charges of an “Imperial Presidency,” but Clinton trumps Nixon on this one. First, Clinton asserted an attorney-client privilege to prevent government lawyers from handing over notes made in meetings with Hillary. Then Clinton fought for two years all the way to the Supreme Court (where he lost 9-0) to claim he was immune from the Paula Jones civil lawsuit. At one point, Clinton’s lawyers even claimed that as Commander-in-Chief, Clinton was on ‘active military duty’ and could not be sued.”

But there’s more to compare and contrast.

Nixon inherited the war in Vietnam and was trying to resolve it. Clinton

started wars in Bosnia and Kosovo without Congressional authorization.

In a recent article on,  Evan Sayet wrote about how liberals have treated the Clinton wars in the Balkans, in contrast to how they have treated President Bush and the war in Iraq.

If liberals and Democrats truly believed it was “wrong” to remove the leader of a sovereign nation, he wrote, “they would have been marching in the streets screaming ‘No Blood For Sex’ when the previous president launched wars against Bosnia and Kosovo to remove from power the sovereign leader, Slobodan Milosevic.” That’s a reference to Clinton’s involvement in the Balkans being a diversion from Clinton’s sex scandal.

Sayet added, “And if their protestations were based on their true ‘values,’ the left would have been chanting ‘Clinton is Hitler’ when he went to war without Congressional approval or UN sanction in order to defeat nations that were not only not an ‘imminent’ threat to America but were no threat to America at all.”

Sayet went on, “Milosevic had never had-much less ever used-weapons of mass destruction, he was not aiding or abetting global terrorist organizations, nor did he have rape and torture chambers throughout his nation as did Saddam Hussein. In fact, even the ‘ethnic cleansing’ he was accused of-ginned up and exaggerated in the way that Newsweek, CNN and the New York Times routinely do-was minor in comparison to the then-ongoing genocide of the Marsh Arabs and the massacre of the Kurds, the murder of Shiites, and even the horrific execution of his fellow Sunnis by the Iraqi dictator.”

For the rest of Sayet’s excellent column, please go to:

Sayet’s point is right on target. Clinton could have been impeached for taking the country to war under false pretenses and without congressional approval. Indeed, his intervention in Kosovo was rejected by Congress, and Clinton proceeded with the war anyway.

The argument against Bush is that he lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But the claims about Iraq were made in good faith, based on the same evidence available to Congress when members of the House and Senate backed the war as a last resort. Saddam Hussein, who had used WMD in the past, had an elaborate deception scheme in place, designed to confuse his friends and enemies about the nature of his weapons program. Saddam was the deceiver, not Bush. If anything, Bush was too cautious, as he waited six months for the U.N. to consider enforcing its own resolutions demanding Iraqi disarmament. That may have been the time period during which the WMD were moved.

Bush is vulnerable to the charge of failing to clean house in the intelligence community before the war. Eventually, CIA director George Tenet, a Clinton holdover, resigned. He had told Bush that finding WMD in Iraq was a “slam dunk.”

That’s the real scandal-one that Bush inherited.

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