The Past Is Prologue
"Better late than never" isn't always true, but public candor from people and institutions that have misled us for many years can be refreshing -- and sometimes even liberating.
Prodded by recent events -- including publication of "The Clinton Tapes," historian Taylor Branch's fascinating account of his contemporaneous private conversations with President Bill Clinton; the unwholesome reappearance of healthcare reform nemesis Betsy McCaughey; and perhaps even the death of retired New York Times Op-Ed columnist William Safire -- certain media myth-makers of the Clinton era have suddenly uttered startling acknowledgments and even a grudging confession or two.
As for the responsible parties at the Times, the Post, Newsweek and all the others, like Friedman and Thomas, who feel residual guilt over the Clinton scandals, there is still time to confront the past honestly. Fessing up is hard to do. But at a moment when the New York Times and the Washington Post again seem eager to grovel to the far right, it is worth recalling where that same impulse led during the Clinton years.
But they can always show contrition fifteen years down the road. It continues to pay well.