I just watched Ron Howard’s Frost Vs. Nixon, and it got me to thinking why hasn’t there been a similar interview of Bill Clinton in a no-holds barred interview covering Clinton’s malfeasance. Why hasn’t a journalist, similar to a David Frost stepped forward to put Clinton’s feet to the fire?
During the Chris Wallace VS. Clinton interview, Wallace asked Clinton a seemingly benign question about capturing Osama bin Laden. Clinton went off to a point where his face turned beat red. As a non-journalist, even I could see Clinton was ready to pop. Even I could see the man had a great deal to hide, and he was ticked off at Wallace for even nearing the precipice of whatever troubled Clinton over the years.
Clinton claimed that he had been ambushed by the question. This makes me think that he and his handlers have carefully avoided a Frost like moment. He wouldn’t do such an interview. He learned from the Frost/Nixon interview that there’s nothing to be gained from coming clean. Either that, or as hard as it is to believe, no journalist wants to put him through such an interview. As Ron Howard’s Frost Nixon movie depicts, there was a blood lust on the part of liberals to savage Nixon and expose him for all that they thought he was. The same emotional lust, I dare say, does not exist for Clinton on the part of journalists.
Clinton political advisor Dick Morris would later say that Clinton got so angry at Wallace, because the answer to the question, in part, involved Clinton’s obsession with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton also did not want the negative publicity an action against bin Laden could have had on his presidency.
Regardless of the reasons why, you would’ve thought that some journalist would’ve sniffed a huge story out of a follow up interview in which the journalist pressed Clinton on the issue in the manner Frost did Nixon. Wallace, it seems, was caught unaware when Clinton screamed at him. Wallace’s intention was to give Clinton a venue to answer some of the questions that were out there regarding Clinton’s role in the ‘hold your fire’ order on bin Laden.
The questions about illegal activity occurring in the Nixon and Clinton whitehouse are legion and similar in many ways, but the media and Hollywood are still obsessed with the Nixon era foibles that occurred nearly forty years ago. Ron Howard stated that he believed that Nixon’s misuse of power was similar to George W. Bush’s, and he stated that that was why the Frost interview held relevance. Howard said this without a hint of irony or any allusions to the Clinton administration’s unlawful activities or misuses of power.
I believe that the reason there hasn’t been a Frost style interview with Clinton has to do with a quote from Ron Howard’s Frost VS. Nixon in which one of the reporters claims that he would be ostracized from the journalistic community if they failed to nail Nixon in this interview. Perhaps the opposite could be said of the reporter that nailed Clinton. Respect from your peers is mighty in any profession, but in the journalistic community it must be larger than fame and glory.