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10 December 1998

Smile-a-while: Quinn the Eskimo

Synopsis: Sally Quinn must be living in the far distant north, she seems so out of touch and so snowblind.

Commentary by Sally Quinn
Meet the Press, NBC, 12/7/98

The analysts had been deconstructing hard, working away on those 81 Answers, critiquing CelebCorps’ Days of Rage over Clinton’s vile horrid responses. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/30/98-12/8/98, for the fruit of the analysts’ labors.)

But while they pondered the pundits’ pique, they missed the chance to review other happenings. And so the analysts asked if they might have some fun with a few of the things they’d missed out on.

All work and no play? Folks, it makes dull savants. That’s wisdom to which we’re subscribers. And so we’re permitting the analysts to present minor mishaps--amusing events of the past several weeks. We might all enjoy a few muffled laughs before we vote on Vile Clinton next Thursday.

And the wily tacticians agreed, to a man, to kick things off with this Sally Quinn excerpt, in which the silver-coiffed queen appeared with Big Tim to sketch out her insider feelings. Quinn had explained Established Folks’ feelings about Horrid Clinton in a Post piece last month. Now we’d all revisit the can’t-put-it-down topic, in a round-table with Bill Safire and Charles Peters.

“Everybody took this very personally,” Quinn started, explaining the press corps’ puzzling pique. (Wasn’t the press corps supposedly trained to avoid just this sort of reaction?) But after Peters had attacked the corps’ love of scandal, and scored the corps for its Clinton “obsession,” the cool-mannered Quinn, her gorge now rising, spoke back, and she made us all smile:

QUINN: Charlie makes the point that the [Clinton] speech was on August 17 and he also talks about how the media has been so obsessed with this story. But in January of last year--now it’s almost one year--President Clinton could have told the truth and avoided all of this media obsession, quote obsession, and hysteria simply by saying, “I did it,” and it would have been ended at that point...

The weary analysts visibly roused as they heard the familiar refrain: if Vile had simply Told The Truth, none of this mess would have happened. In January, of course, Sam Donaldson had said Vile would be gone in a week, if the Post’s January 21 story was true; and it’s now received wisdom that Dick Morris took a poll, and found the public wouldn’t accept Vile’s alleged lying (in the Jones deposition). But, as we’ve pointed out before, the press corps simply loves to claim that Clinton lies for no reason at all; and so Quinn went on with her comforting tale. The Vile One could have ended this mess at any time he had chosen:

QUINN (continuing): would have ended at that point. Right now Charlie’s got a cover story on his [Washington Monthly] magazine, and he’s sitting here on Meet the Press talking about it. One year later. All of that could have been avoided and every single person I interviewed for this story talked about the recklessness...

We were a little surprised by that remark, since Quinn had earlier scorned Peters’ claim that the press corps seemed to think as one. But she continued on to make her point about Vile’s bizarre puzzling conduct:

QUINN (continuing): ...talked about the recklessness. When he says, “I want to get back to the business the American people elected me to do,” he could have done that any time since last January by simply telling the truth...

Quinn, of course, in best media fashion, presumes she’d recognize “the truth” if he told it. But think about what Quinn tells us. According to Quinn, if Clinton had said, back in March, that he’d had sex with that intern and lied under oath, the Republican Party and the national press would have gone right back to global warming. The claim, of course, is absurd on face--no sentient being could begin to believe it--but it remains a bit of Pundit Dogma, just worshipped in insider circles. It was repeated again and again by programmed pundits in the wake of Vile’s August 17 speech; and here was Quinn, some four months later, again repeating a treasured tale that is plainly, absurdly untrue:

QUINN: All I’m saying is there would not have been an obsession by the media, there would not have been the media covering this story if there had been no story to cover.

Yep, we can almost see the headlines now, if Vile had simply told the truth:

Clinton had sex with intern,
lied under oath, he explains

Nothing to look at, say GOP--
Gingrich to media: Move on!

Understand: we don’t fault the scribes because they would have covered an admission by Clinton in March. Republican reaction would of course have been huge. The story would have demanded massive coverage.

We only fault Quinn, and those of her tribe, for pretending that Bill could have ended it all. The claim is nonsensical--absurd on its face. So, what does it mean when our insider crowd will just swear to absurd silly stories?

Visit our incomparable archives: Again, the absurd notion that Clinton could have Ended It All was repeatedly presented, by programmed pundits, in the week after August 17. Does it take them ten minutes to write these columns? Must they all say the exact same thing? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/20/98, for our contemporaneous review of the cock-eyed cacophany.