A little more than a week ago, on a day I had no classes, I rolled out of bed and switched on the television, to see “team coverage” of the Starr report. Much like my day, this coverage contained no class.
Flipping between the major news channels, I saw reports being filed mere blocks from our seemingly isolated Foggy Bottom campus. The media’s sluggers: Sam Donaldson, Wolf Blitzer, Tim Curry and ilk filed reports on the White House lawn, mere blocks away from the J Street cafe.
The GW Hatchet’s reporters have admirably stayed away from political reporting, realizing, perhaps, the vast resources they do not posses makes competing with The Washington Post almost idiotic.
However, with megabytes of information newly released in the body of the Starr report, some commentary is necessary. We have seen today the explosion of media and television, which, in my unscientific estimation, even has eclipsed coverage of Princess Diana’s death last year. This entire affair is the first time any major news organization has had more than a nugget or two of information.
Friday, they all received complete copies of a pornographic “report” and did what any major news organization would: read excerpts. From coverage of the “accidental meetings” in White House hallways to the alleged “cigar incident,” journalists have managed to further stretch the limits of decency that were previously set.
Ironically, President Clinton’s “V-Chip,” which blocks adult content from display on TV sets used by children, may have actually blocked parts of the reports filed about his encounters with Monica Lewinsky.
For Washington, the question is whether Bill Clinton has perjured himself and whether he is a candidate for impeachment. For GW, the question is whether this has had a tangible effect on the community. The obvious answer is no, we are still living on the same world, on the same streets and next to the same neighbors.
However, we need to look deeper. In our lives, the presidency may not play much of a daily role, but its requirements have forever changed. For every presidential election the future holds, you can be reasonably sure that someone somewhere will ask the candidates if they have ever been a party to sexual misconduct, or even go so far as to request a sexual history.
Is this what we want the presidency to be? Do we want to know every intimate detail of our leaders’ lives? Do we have the right to know every intimate detail of our leaders’ lives?
Politics and religion are two things that can draw lines between friends like no other topics. Has the media found a way to discuss these issues by combining them with Bill Clinton’s sex life, a topic on which everyone seems to have a discourse? Does it take the integration of sex with news to make us tune into the news?
Perhaps the answers to these questions can never be found, because the tastes and attitudes of society are constantly shifting.
However, we can safely look at television, and the Starr report and see what “news,” “politics” and even the presidency has become. Are we to follow the same path? It takes a conscious choice to do otherwise.
-The writer is a freshman undecided on a major.