HEADJOB AS A NATIONAL TRAGEDYMonica Lewinsky comes to bury Roger Ailes, not to praise him:

Just two years after Rupert Murdoch appointed Mr. Ailes to head the new cable news network, my relationship with President Bill Clinton became public. Mr. Ailes, a former Republican political operative, took the story of the affair and the trial that followed and made certain his anchors hammered it ceaselessly, 24 hours a day.

It worked like magic: The story hooked viewers and made them Fox loyalists. For the past 15 years, Fox News has been the No. 1 news station; last year the network made about $2.3 billion.

Some experts have noted that viewers found Fox for the first time because of the crisis. John Moody, a Fox executive editor, reflected on that period: “The Lewinsky saga put us on the news map.” As he put it in another interview: “Monica was a news channel’s dream come true.”

Their dream was my nightmare. My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail — I was the original target of Kenneth Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit and other alleged crimes — or worse, me taking my own life. Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads to best exploit this personal and national tragedy.

“National tragedy”… Maybe Fox hammered it because it was a story; a story, furthermore, that all the mainstream media, which fellated Bill Clinton for eight years as well as Monica did (genuflecting to the Clinton name evermore), would have buried like all the other Clinton scandals before or since. Fox didn’t make you do it.

How about this, instead of blaming Fox for exploiting this “national tragedy” – how about acknowledging it wasn’t very smart, as an intern, to have a “sexual relationship” with the (married) President of the United States – just as it wasn’t very smart, as the (married) President of the United States, to have a “sexual relationship” with an intern half your age? Maybe some personal responsibility and self-reflection is in place?

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