Clinton In Crisis: Have you heard about the cigar?

A DAY ON TV
FRIDAY in the US was a TV day to live in infamy - like taking your Ford Escort to Silverstone, you were going to find out what this baby could really do. By the time I got the kids out of the house on the West Coast, Clinton had had his prayer meeting (reallyreallyreally sorry) and MSNBC was split-screening. Newt Gingrich was calling the vote in the House of Reps while Bill/Hill were in church.

In the House, the Yea/Nays began to flicker on the scoreboard. In church, Bill/Hill didn't do the have-you-heard-this-one laughing routine from the night before. Then Newt called it: 363-63 - rip the tape off those boxes, and throw the dirt on the Net. The Starr Report was going straight to dot com.

Not that TV was finished. For seven months, CNN and MSNBC have been devoted to the scandal. Just as during OJ some lawyers went from a busy practice to getting their own TV show, so there are smart kids out of the Ivys with tongues like razors who have slipped from being journalists to CNN correspondents to having their own programme debut next week. What do they say? They talk till the knife comes down and they say how wretched it is to have to be doing this. Plus, have you heard the one about Monica and the cigar?

It's 10.01am Pacific time, and thank God the kids are gone. The key thing about this scandal has been a whole generation of 6-11 coming of age so they say "suck" and wink at you like Saigon whores. The Pres is out by now, ahead of Starr, with a rebuttal piece of 75 pages - someone on CNN calls it a "prebuttal", which sounds like something from the Paula Jones hearing's non-definition of non-sex.

Things are happening all over: there's an inset panel on the screen that gives the Dow. At 8.30am it's down 240. By 10.30, it's up 101 - at last those Internet stocks are bull again!

On and on, all day long, with relays of handsome anchors and whipsaw experts. There's voxpop on the streets of LA. There are senators on the steps of the Capitol. There's Jesse Jackson, incoherent. There's Tim Russert in the studio with, "Do you really want to remove someone from the presidency for lying about sex?" You half expect another inset panel - an ECG - leap with the wow of "Yes!" We do, we do. Resign, Bill - so you can be on TV all the time.

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