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The Media's Favorite Marriage

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 24, 2006; 11:21 AM

In a moment, everything you ever wanted to know about Charlie Gibson becoming the ABC anchor, and maybe more.

But first I want to talk about the Clintons' marriage.

Or the coverage of the Clintons' marriage.

Or, more precisely, whether the Clintons' marriage should be covered, or at least whether it should be covered in a zillion-word front-page piece in the New York Times -- complete with statistics on how many weekends they've spent together (51 of the last 73).

The bloggers, mostly liberal bloggers, are ripping this piece. Too tabloidy. Really about sex. Using Hillary's likely 2008 run as an excuse to dredge up all the old speculation about the state of the most frequently dissected marriage of the last century.

Allow me to dissent.

Of course the Clintons' marriage is news--and the story makes clear that they've both thought about how to package it for the public. There is even a joint statement from their two press secretaries, like some SALT-talks communique.

If Hillary hadn't been married to Bill, would she now be a United States senator, let alone the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination?

If Bill hadn't fooled around with Monica, leading Hillary to blame the vast right-wing conspiracy only to discover that the accusations were right, would she have sold millions of copies of her book?

Will at least some Americans worry about the role that Bill would play in a second Clinton presidency?

Will all Americans, or at least those with a pulse, continue to gossip about their marriage if she runs?

This is not to take away from Hillary Rodham Clinton's career or her abilities as an independent person. But if you are potentially running to be not just the first woman president but the first woman to follow her husband into the job, and his tenure was rocked by a sex scandal that led to his impeachment, how exactly do journalists conclude the subject is out of bounds?


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