Al Gore's Chutzpah Helpers

There's something truly bizarre about political reporters whining that the presidential race being winnowed down to just Bush and Gore with eight months to go. These are the same people whose only question for Bill Bradley in the last month was: so when are you getting out? These are the same people who never gave any conservative Republican challenger a chance in this race.

One Newsweek reporter said "his hair hurt" just thinking about the boring race to come. This is the same reporter who told Don Imus that Steve Forbes should quit after New Hampshire, suggesting: "It's too bad that he wasn't the guy who fell off the platform at the pancake flipping thing."

Yes, it's strange. But not quite as ridiculous as the sight of these reporters now letting Al Gore get away with saying he's the Great White Hope for campaign finance "reform." The freshest conventional wisdom from the national media instructs us that both candidates need those John McCain voters and their supposed passion for new campaign finance laws. Gore, the network pollsters have announced, is more "trusted" on campaign laws than Bush.

Has America lost its collective mind? Not really. In truth, this bizarre result shouldn't be a surprise, since the Big Three networks and the news magazines have spent years refusing to cover Gore's atrocious record on the laws he's proposing we make stricter.

The latest opportunity for inaction came when the Los Angeles Times published a synopsis of top Justice Department fundraising investigator Charles LaBella's memo to Janet Reno asking for an independent counsel to investigate the Chinese attempts to buy the 1996 election for Clinton and Gore. Times reporters William Rempel and Alan Miller revealed that LaBella found an "intellectually dishonest double standard" in Reno's decision to appoint independent counsels for Clinton cabinet members, but not for higher-ups. LaBella cited Bill and Hillary, Al Gore, and Harold Ickes as potential targets getting special treatment.

Was it newsworthy that a top official at the Justice Department was a) naming some of the top officials of the land (including the President) as possible law-breakers while b) accusing the Attorney General of a coverup?

Nope. The network blackout was near total, and the pro-Gore, pro-"reform" chatter still keeps coming. NBC reporter Claire Shipman mentioned LaBella's bombshell for a handful of seconds before boldly promoting Gore's Clintonesque chutzpah: "Gore and his advisors now believe that it can actually be a winning issue for them and a critical overture to John McCain's voters." ABC's Terry Moran avoided LaBella entirely while talking of Gore's hope to "inoculate himself by admitting...that he has made mistakes and now he says he speaks with the conviction of a convert on the need for reform."

To imagine the depths of absurdity of our cover-up cooperators, let's apply the same rules of conduct to Iran-Contra. In this scenario, Attorney General Ed Meese does not yield to calls for an independent counsel, and Ronald Reagan creates no Tower Commission to get the facts out. No, Meese declares that the Justice Department is nonpartisan enough that they can investigate the President internally, and to help, Meese brings in a U.S. Attorney from San Diego.

The White House then dismisses newspaper revelations of missiles to Iran and Contra funding as "old news," while President Reagan declares that he is foregoing the "politics of personal destruction" and devoting his full attention "to the job he was hired to do, which is improve the lives of the American people."

The Democratic House and newly Democratic Senate are not happy with this, and decide to create a joint committee hearing to get facts on the table. But the networks refuse to air the hearings live, and when the evening news rolls around, the networks stick to celebrity murders because they didn't bother to send a crew to the hearing.

It gets better. Eventually, Ed Meese's San Diego hard-charger demands that an independent counsel be named to probe President Reagan, Vice President Bush, and other important figures, and sends Meese a long 120-page memo making his case. The FBI Director tells Meese that he concurs. But Meese not only refuses to name an independent counsel, he even refuses to release the San Diego man's memo despite insistent demands from congressional investigators.

As if this isn't implausible enough, now imagine a news media giving the Reagan administration this kind of latitude to cover up for itself . Imagine the media allowing Meese to bury a memo for a year and a half without a peep of protest. Imagine the media actually promoting George Bush saying he would make the need to curb clandestine National Security Council operations his most important cause.

I should stop now with this scenario before I'm completely bowled over with laughter.