TCS Daily

Time Tripps Up

By Sidney Goldberg - December 31, 2002 12:00 AM

Over a week has passed since Time's cover eulogized three whistle blowers as Persons of the Year. To date, there has been no press commentary to the effect that there are whistle blowers and then there are whistle blowers. Some whistle blowers, apparently, are to be destroyed because they revealed the truth.

The magazine chose the three women this way: "For believing - really believing - that the truth is one thing that must not be moved off the books, and for stepping in to make sure that it wasn't, they have been chosen by Time as its Persons of the Year for 2002."

Somewhere in the ten pages devoted to whistle-blowers Time might have mentioned Linda Tripp, if only in passing, who blew the whistle on a man, President Clinton, who in the course of a few years stood accused of every sex offense from groping to rape.
But for blowing the whistle on Clinton for "ministering" to Monica Lewinsky in the White House, Linda Tripp was condemned by millions of Americans, and was attacked viciously by Clinton's courtiers. At one point, the polls showed she was the most hated woman in America. Her career was deliberately destroyed because she told the truth.

One reason for the attacks on Linda was that she betrayed a friend, Monica Lewinsky. Of course she did, which made her act all the more courageous. When David Kaczynski told police that his own brother, Theodore Kaczynski, was the Unabomber, he received universal praise for overcoming family loyalty in the interests of society. When police officers break through the "blue wall of silence" and "rat out" their corrupt buddies on the force, they win praise from all, turning on colleagues they have bonded with, sometimes buddies who had saved their lives in shoot-outs.
In Linda's case, her disloyalty to Monica and her outrage over the President's behavior were seen as so egregious that she was regarded as totally lacking in character, and that her inner ugliness was so great that it justified attacks on her outward appearance. Normally, the PC media would never mention that a congressman is fat or that a woman executive is homely - but Linda was fair game to the press and especially to the late-night talk-show comics, who ridiculed her girth, heavy head, and lumbering gait. John Goodman, dressed up in full Linda Tripp regalia, had great fun at her expense and everybody had a good, if cruel, laugh.

Of course, the rationale for this condemnation of Linda was that President Clinton's infractions were merely sexual, and that a man is almost expected to lie in order to protect the reputation of the woman. Does anyone believe that the President lied in order to protect Monica's reputation? Or did he lie to protect his own reputation? I think the latter deserves more credence.

But it is not the perjury that is so offensive. The sexual escapade itself - even if no law was broken - carries greater moral iniquity than the perjury. Ask yourself - and please, be truthful with yourself - if these "inappropriate" sexual acts had been performed by President Nixon would those who pass off Clinton's acts as peccadilloes be passing them off as part of Nixon's private life and not fodder for impeachment?
Linda Tripp got a raw deal. Her life has been ravaged because she blew the whistle. She has had to face economic ruin. She was "accused" of wanting to write a book about her experiences. Everyone else involved in this affair (except Linda and my wife, Lucianne Goldberg) has written a book, which of course is normally not a criminal offense, let alone an ambition that invites opprobrium.

So let Time trumpet the virtues of the three women whistle-blowers. But it would have been nice if it had made, in passing, a small salute to a woman who sacrificed all for exposing the truth and served the country well.
Sidney Goldberg is a New York media consultant who for many years was Senior Vice President of United Media for Syndication. United Media syndicates and licenses Peanuts, Dilbert, and many other graphic and text properties.

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