Earlier this year, former New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote a trash-talking article in New York Magazine begging conservatives to dig back into the Clinton scandals of the 1990s. Hillary Clinton is preparing to run for president again, and he thinks it will help. Rich delighted in "how inexorably the Clintons will seduce the GOP into another orgy of self-destruction" by focusing on Whitewater or Bill Clinton's sexual harassments, making Hillary look again like "a victim of drive-by character assassination."
While every Clinton scandal is automatically "old news," even when it's fresh news, somehow Watergate never fades as a liberal-media fascination center. It's erupting again with the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation over Watergate.
NPR's "The Diane Rehm Show" devoted an entire hour to Nixon aide John Dean promoting yet another book on the immoral depths of Watergate, even though the George W. Bush years inspired him to write a book called "Worse Than Watergate."
CBS's "Sunday Morning" promoted liberal Jimmy Carter-adoring historian Douglas Brinkley unloading another book on horrors he's recently discovered in the Nixon audiotapes: "There's a bigotry about people in the Third World. There's a lot of sort of barnyard cursing, unpleasant amount of backstabbing, duplicitous paranoia going on." Brinkley said, "you can come away respecting his intellect while disliking the lack of moral fiber in the man."
With the Clintons, they are always lauded for their intellect and almost never judged lacking in moral fiber.
Brinkley's co-author Luke Nichter told CBS that Nixon was a monster: "And what's clear is that Nixon is making decisions about the Vietnam War that really don't have a lot to do with Vietnam. Bombing the bejezus out of Vietnam, killing South Vietnamese, killing North Vietnamese, putting our own soldiers and South Vietnamese in harm's way simply to show the Chinese we're tough, to show the Soviets we mean business."
The networks largely ignored a newly discovered audiotape that reveals how just 10 hours before the first plane hit the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11, Bill Clinton boasted to a business group in Australia that he had a chance to kill Osama bin Laden but passed because it would have meant killing hundreds of innocent civilians. So bin Laden killed 3,000 of ours. How was this not news? But Clinton can spout off like this and know the media will cover for him, and no one will dare to suggest he was just blowing smoke, because he didn't have the guts to risk his approval rating for anything that mattered.
In The New York Times, liberal historian Robert Dallek praised John Dean's 746-page Watergate book as a contribution to understanding how "Watergate has become a synonym for the incomparable abuses of power" of Nixon. Everything else paled to "an attempt to shape a presidential election by other than constitutional means." Nixon's means were clearly unethical, but what makes it bizarre is how the popular will was not frustrated in 1972. Nixon was going to trounce George McGovern, anyway. But the liberal media types can't stomach that idea.
The Washington Post ran four Nixon-slamming articles in the Sunday paper, best summarized by columnist Ruth Marcus concluding, "Forty years after he slunk out of office, Richard M. Nixon retains the capacity to astonish and disgust." But when it came to Hillary Clinton's failure to take any responsibility for keeping the consulate secure in Benghazi, Libya - "What difference does it make?" - Marcus insisted Hillary's excuses were neither astonishing nor disgusting. She insisted the job of secretary of state is "not to figure out what the security of an outpost is."
The media are still obsessing over Nixon in 2014, even as they routinely ignore the Nixonian contempt of Congress demonstrated by President Barack Obama, not to mention the abuses of the IRS to punish tea party conservative groups, something Nixon in his most dangerous moments wouldn't contemplate.
It might be their growing concern over the latest presidential poll. In a Quinnipiac University survey at the beginning of July, Obama had replaced Nixon as the worst president since World War II: 33 percent for Obama, to only 13 percent who picked Nixon. The Nixon-hating media and their coterie of historians continue to exaggerate the horrors of Republicans, and absolve and whitewash the Democrats. Most people aren't buying what they're selling anymore.