Blame it on the MEDIA!

March 28, 1994|By Art Buchwald

EVERY time there is a big story in Washington, the political participants blame the MEDIA. Words such as "press frenzy" and "yellow journalism" pop up all over the place. Those involved seem to believe that their problems would just disappear if only reporters would shut up.

The question then arises:

What branch of the MEDIA are we talking about?

Who specifically is to blame for attacks on the integrity of all these public officials who chose to serve their country at great financial sacrifice?

Are we cussing out the print or electronic culprits -- the National Enquirer or Rush Limbaugh?

This is not the first time the MEDIA have come under fire. Before Whitewater there was the Bluewater Scandal. It seems that the Coca-Cola machine in the White House basement was several dollars short whenever a particular assistant secretary of the Treasury emptied it. At first, members of Congress, who had cheated on stamps at the House post office, were the prime suspects. But then the suspicion arose that someone in the White House had done it to finance Bill Clinton's 1996 campaign.

Word was immediately passed on to the president's damage-control team.

The president was not implicated, but there was fear that once the MEDIA got hold of it, it could turn into another Tonya Harding scandal.

"The MEDIA are overplaying this story," an aide declared in the White House situation room.

"What MEDIA?" asked his colleague.

"The print MEDIA, the electronic MEDIA, Howard Stern, George Will, Ted Koppel, 'Hard Copy'? Give me a hint."

"We can't name names. If we did we would have to include People magazine, Vanity Fair and the Congressional Record. We must target all of them, or at least imply that the MEDIA are solely to blame for Bluewater. That way we'll prevent any damage to the the president."

The president's legal adviser said, "The first thing we have to do is find out what the Coca-Cola machine knew and when it knew it. Then we leak to the MEDIA that the press is a puppet of the Republican Party. After the leak we deny that our people were involved in Bluewater, and we call for an investigation to determine which White House staffer gave the information to Diane Sawyer."

"That's a good idea," chirped a White House intern.

"Oh, shut up," another staffer growled. Then added, "Should we consider shredding the Coca-Cola machine?"

"Not unless a senatorial committee subpoenas it. The MEDIA will probably find out about the machine, and then the president, of course, will have to apologize for the actions of his staff."

"Let's keep the president out of this."

"How can we if Larry King insists that the president appear on his show?"

"We'll have to let him go on."

"But isn't Larry part of the MEDIA?"

"We'll use Larry to attack the MEDIA."

"How?"

"By making telephone calls to his show from the CIA."

The damage control worked, and Bluewater was never heard from again.

Now people were able to turn their attention to Whitewater, which, while not in the same class, came pretty close.

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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