On Saturday, Hillary Clinton told a friendly audience in Little Rock, Arkansas celebrating the 25th anniversary of her husband Bill's first presidential election victory that "one of the reasons he probably survived" and won is that Fox News didn't exist in 1992. Fox should send Mrs. Clinton a note thanking her for the compliment.
Mrs. Clinton made her comment about Fox late in "A Conversation with President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton," moderated by longtime Clinton apparatchik James Carville, the 1992 campaign's lead strategist.
Here is the relevant snip from Mrs. Clinton's appearance with her husband Bill, who, at least as seen below, seemed quite disinterested in the proceedings:
Transcript (bolds are mine):
(not in video above)
HILLARY CLINTON: But we also had a clearer channel for communications (in 1992).
(seen in video above)
Unfortunately, our body politic's immune system has been impaired, because there has been a concerted effort starting with the creation of the Fox network — it wasn't there when Bill first ran (in 1992). It's one of the reasons he probably survived.
(not in video above)
It was there when he ran the second time.
It and all of its associated media outlets who are by no means delivering news, they're delivering partisan advocacy positions, irrespective of the truth, the facts, the evidence.
And I think we've got to stand up, regardless of what party, regardless of our ideological beliefs. A democracy depends upon an informed citizenry that has access to accurate information. And I will tell you that (audience applauds) there is no such thing as an alternative fact. It does not exist, in politics or in nature.
And it was astonishing to me the things people believed about me in this campaign.
Mrs. Clinton went on to blame "Russia" for "weaponizing information" and creating "phony news," and wrapped up her complaint by saying that "We cannot let our politics be turned into a fiction that benefits a very small minority of Americans."
Despite Mrs. Clinton's contention, the term "alternative facts" does exist in the real world as a legal term. It describes "inconsistent sets of facts put forth by the same party in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives."
As to Fox, it indeed debuted in 1996 with an announced mission to provide a "fair and balanced" approach. Within five years, it became the nation's number one cable news network. Mrs. Clinton's gratuitous smear is a deliberate misreading of television history. Fox News rocketed to the top so quickly because viewers could tell that it was staying true to its mission in its hard-news reporting while giving its primetime viewers valid perspectives long since marginalized at other news outlets. Though its ratings lead over rivals MSNBC and CNN is not what it was several years ago, Fox still significantly outdraws the other two networks' in total daily viewership.
As to what the 1992 campaign would have looked like had Fox News been around, let's look at a few pieces of indisputably "accurate information" the then-tightly controlled establishment press mishandled or failed to adequately cover. If Fox had been around, things would clearly have worked out differently.
Most obviously, there was Bill Clinton's 12-year extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers.
In a sickening post-Super Bowl softball interview with Steve Kroft on CBS's 60 Minutes, both Bill and Hillary denied the affair. Mrs. Clinton did her infamous "I'm not sitting here – some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette" routine — while she did exactly that.
At the end of that interview, Clinton, when asked by Kroft if he had succeeded in putting the matter behind him, said:
That's up to the American people and to some extent up to the press. This will test the character of the press. It is not only my character that has been tested.
Bill Clinton, with CBS's implicit backing, was telling the establishment press to move on — and they did, even though Flowers had "tapes of phone conversations" with Bill Clinton "discussing with her how to respond when questioned by reporters," including telling her "to deny that he aided her in obtaining a state job," Media-monitoring outfits which tried to give the tapes visibility were shut out.
In January 1998, in a deposition connected with the Paula Jones case, Bill Clinton "acknowledged he had a sexual relationship with Gennifer Flowers during his tenure as Arkansas governor."
It's quite plausible to believe that if Fox News had been around, the 1992 electorate would have learned the truth in time for the primaries and general election instead of waiting six years to learn that they had been played. How it might have changed votes is anyone's guess; Hillary Clinton seems to believe it "probably" would have doomed him.
Similar analyses could be presented concerning several other 1992 campaign press downplays and cover-ups, including but not limited to how Bill Clinton managed to dodge the Vietnam War-era draft in the name of preserving his "political viability within the system"; his time as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England, which included demonstrating on foreign soil against the Vietnam War; and his never satisfactorily explained tour of the Soviet Union during that time, which was a period when "students didn’t just wander in and out of there."
More than bias was involved in the press's fawning fandom for Clinton, as the Media Research Center's July 1992 Media Watch issue explained:
HOPING HE WINS
In recent months two New Republic Senior Editors, both veterans of Newsweek, have described the depth of Bill Clinton's support in the news media.
... "Almost none is due to calculations about Clinton being `electable'....and none at all is due to belief in Clinton's denials in the Flowers business, because no one believes these denials. ..."
In the May 11 issue, Mickey Kaus suggested why many hope Clinton wins: "Many pro-Clinton journalists can reasonably hope for something more than glamorous candlelight dinners in the Clinton White House. They can hope for jobs in the Clinton White House. The air is thick with undisclosed ambition ... let's just say that the positions of press secretary and speechwriter to President Clinton will be among the more hotly contested job opportunities to come along since 9,000 people lined up for a few hotel jobs in Chicago last winter."
There you have it. The overwhelmingly Democrat-supporting press didn't care about the truth in 1992, and many of its journalists, after 12 years of Republican rule, were salivating at the opportunity to finally have access to a well-paying government job and the perks which accompany it.
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Since Mrs. Clinton is seemingly so interested in people having "access to accurate information," one wonders how the aforementioned accurate information didn't come out in what she plainly sees as the good old days when there was "a clearer channel for communications."
The answer is that a great deal of "accurate information" unfavorable to her husband never got through the media filter. Thank goodness Fox News and so many outlets are here to at least partially offset that today.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.