Clinton Scandal Essay, Research Paper
The Media and Its Role in the Clinton-Lewinsky ScandalWhen the Framers of the Constitution specified freedom of the press, they envisioned that this would nurture and guide the development of a thriving, healthy democracy. They envisioned a democracy that centers on a core set of beliefs: liberty, equality, self-government, individualism, diversity, and unity. These beliefs are part of today s political culture. Americans have always cherished, but at the same time they have deplored the excess of the media in the exercise of that freedom.During the recent Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the press has both contributed to the health of our democracy and it has also been detrimental to our democracy and its institutions. However, the press has been far more detrimental to our democracy than it has been helpful in light of this scandal. People learn more from television coverage of an event than they learn from any other source. However, it takes a great deal of information for the average person to absorb a specific issue. People are presented with too much information from numerous media outlets. They tend not to grab the story until the event continues to make the news for an extended period of time. People make more informed decisions about an issue when they are presented to them regularly. The news challenges people to think critically and to form opinions based on their understanding of an issue. People can actively select and personalize information they get from the news. Individuals are presented with many views so they can make their own judgments. People construct meaning from the news. Information people gain from the news can be incorporated into their everyday lives. They gain a personal frame of reference that allows them to make informed decisions about issues. Most important of all, the news allows individuals to keep in contact with society, to find their own places in it, and to be fully aware of the world around them. If people ignore what they hear and see on TV about political figures, people will become isolated and unable to form public opinion. The news opens whole new venues of information and ways of thinking so people can get involved in the political process. News still matters because it informs us and keeps us abreast of issues affecting our lives and our country. The press has covered the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal with great detail and effort. There isn t a day on TV when one does not hear any new information regarding the scandal. The press is giving what the people want. Our country thrives on sensationalism. Americans like feeding frenzies. They thrive on the news. People get pleasure watching the news. It is an outlet for entertainment. Americans love to follow interesting drama behind big stories. Clinton s taped grand jury testimony was a hit for the media. Over 22.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the grand jury testimony. The public has been given much information about the Clinton-Lewinsky matter. This overload of information keeps people informed of the actions of the president. The public has every right to know what kind of person is running the country. The United States is a democratic society. Its citizens elected Bill Clinton. They have the capacity through public opinion to impeach him. If the President of the United States has abused power granted to him by the Constitution, the public has a right to know and the press has De Benedicts 3 the duty to report it to them. The release of the Starr report and Clinton s taped grand jury testimony gives the American people the opportunity to judge for themselves as to whether the president has committed impeachable offenses. This allows them to draw reasonable conclusions about the actions of the president. The American press thrives on sensationalism. There is never a dull day with the press. Once they find a story, they can never let go of it especially if it involves a politician or famous actor or actress. The press loses its focus on the important issues that can affect our lives, not in the short term but long term. The press has been focusing on the Clinton scandal too much. The press has failed to inform the public about the financial crisis in China, the possible collapse of Russia, and about own economy. The American public only gets what the press gives it. The media is drowning the public with a flood of trivial and meaningless stories. The media has damaged public dialogue by pushing too far into the private lives of elected officials. They have no business intruding into people s private lives. The press has undermined the American presidency. The Clinton crisis wouldn t have happened in the way it did but for the intrusive technologies of the multi-media revolution. There is no escape from prying cameras, tape recordings, video links, the internet, and e-mail, which has unleashed a subculture of intimate communication unknown a decade ago. This intrusion would not be occurring if the president were an ordinary citizen. With a few exceptions, the media has done everything possible to broadcast every last ounce of scandal out of Starr investigation of Clinton. The press will dig up all accusations about someone s past, whether the reports are just or unjust. De Benedicts 4 The media has been on a Clinton witch-hunt since day one. The media has unlimited power to print anything it desires. We live in a world of no privacy. It is a disgrace that once-reputable media organizations have lowered themselves to tabloid-type reporting. Our present day political culture has widely accepted mores and is flexible in what it says and does. The news media has degenerated into a haven for breaking salacious news. Unless there is a reaction to the way things are going future generations may look back on the Clinton crisis as the last president who enjoyed a reasonable degree of privacy. The institution of the presidency has been diminished because of the press handling of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Our credibility with other countries has been lost. Trust has been lost with our country and other foreign dignitaries because of this scandal. Other countries are laughing at us. They see a country fixed on sex and nothing else. The United States is a world power and we should be leading by example, instead the media s treatment of the Clinton scandal has undermined our democracy and has caused many rifts among Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Bill Clinton is one of the hardest working presidents ever. He has more than earned his salary. If he needs to grow up so does the media. The effect they have on the image of this country is disastrous. Whatever happened to Walter Cronkite and reputable investigative news reporting? The media s focus on sex has tarnished the scandal. The media does not focus on the facts. The press is giving our popular culture a lack of information, and misinformation. The media doesn t serve its audience. They pander to them. It picks and De Benedicts 5 chooses material to show the public. The media gives the public what it thinks it wants and will do anything to boost its ratings. Public opinion becomes biased because of what the press presents to it. People are greatly influenced by what they see on TV. By giving people only one side they feel powerless. The public then becomes cynical of the press and in turn they become uninvolved in the political process mainly by not voting. The condition of America is the most compelling news story today. Our political system is in a crisis. We are part of a breakdown of community and are solely living on the premise of individualism partly because of the media. Good journalism requires us to stand up and take a stand and say enough already. We need to have a basic degree of standards to follow. The media is probably the most powerful institution in America. It dictates what people see and read and is the primary source of dialogue in our country. I personally think the entire Clinton-Lewinsky scandal is demoralizing our country and is destroying what the Framers had in mind for a healthy democracy. The president made broadcast history when he was being grilled on national TV about the salacious details of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The press has taken every single part of the scandal and shredded it to parts. The press has reported all of Clinton s doings with absolutely no sense of fairness and has turned the entire scandal into a witch-hunt. It seems to me that the sex lives of public figures have become legitimate targets of inquiry for the media. These which put America s long tradition of civil liberties to the test. The release of Clinton s videotaped testimony before the Starr grand jury and the release of the Starr report provided a remarkable opportunity for the American people to De Benedicts 6 judge whether the president had committed impeachable offenses. However, I believe this was unnecessary. The president did not give us anything new we have not heard already over and over again from media pundits. The media is only presenting one side of the issue. The media rarely reports any of the parts of Clinton s grand jury testimony and the Starr report that exonerates him from any wrongdoing. Why is the media so fixed on this scandal? We need not go back far to see another extraordinary event in the history of the media, the O.J. Simpson trial, to find an answer. Once the press started covering the case, it couldn t get enough of it for over a year. Every day the top news story would be concerning the trial. So the press handling of the Clinton scandal doesn t surprise me at all. It only confirms the press rush to get the story no matter at what cost to the individuals involved. Clinton has been an excellent president. He has reduced the deficit, cut crime, lowered unemployment, balanced the budget, and the lost goes on. Our economy is the strongest in the world. People are happy and content with their lives. However, much more can be done. Social security needs to be saved. Taxes need to be cut. Education needs to be improved. Instead of focusing on the real issues of the nation, we are focusing all of our time and energy on scandal. The American people have had enough of it. It is time to get back to the business of the country. President Clinton recently called Congress a do nothing Congress. I totally agree. So many pressing issues need to be addressed and dialogue needs to be started. However, both Congress and the media have different agendas. It is time for the American people to stand up and say enough is enough. De Benedicts 7 The failures of the press have contributed to the continuous attention on the scandal. Everywhere from news radio to late night talk shows, someone has something to say about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. The press has destroyed the president s image. It is destroying the president s family. Implications of this scandal go far beyond the president. What do you think it is doing to his daughter Chelsea? She hears the jokes and the ridicule about her father. She must be in a terrible psychological state. His wife, Hilary, is being put through torture. What is going through her mind after hearing all of the salacious reports from the media? It is a sad commentary. The president s image will never be restored to where it was before the scandal. The press has destroyed a good man, father, and husband. This can only happen in America, the land of the free and home of the intrusive media.