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Reporters oustide the White House on Jan. 22
(Frank Johnston/The Washington Post)


Related Links
_ For more pictures of the current feeding frenzy, see our Photo Gallery

_ A look back at Congressional Sex Scandals


Media Frenzies
In Our Time

Summaries by Larry J. Sabato
Special to
March 27, 1998

'50s | '60s | '70s | '80s | '90s

Does the media feeding frenzy over President Clinton's alleged sexual and truthtelling problems feel somehow familiar?

On dozens of occasions in the past four decades, the news media have gone after a wounded politician like sharks. The wounds may be self-inflicted, and the politicians may richly deserve their fates, but it is the journalists who take center stage, creating the news as much as reporting it, altering both the layout of the political landscape and the contours of our government.

In "Feeding Frenzy: How Attack Journalism Has Transformed American Politics" (Free Press, 1991 and 1993), political analyst and University of Virginia government professor Larry J. Sabato provided a case-by-case account of some notable frenzies in the last half-century (summaries of frenzies from the 1996 presidential campaign were written exclusively for

1950s & '60s:

_ Richard Nixon's 'Secret Fund' (1952)
_ George Romney's 'Brainwashing' (1967)
_ Spiro Agnew's 'Fat Jap' Flap (1968)
_ Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick (1969)


_ Edmund Muskie's New Hampshire 'Cry' (1972)
_ Thomas Eagleton's Mental Health (1972)
_ Watergate (1973-1974)
_ Congressman Wilbur Mills and Stripper Fanne Foxe (1974)
_ Jimmy Carter's 'Lust in the Heart' Playboy Interview (1976)
_ Gerald Ford's 'Free Poland' Gaffe (1976)
_ Jimmy Carter's 'Killer Rabbit' (1979)


_ Billygate (1980)
_ Debategate (1983)
_ Gary Hart(pence) (1984)
_ Jesse Jackson's 'Hymietown' Remark (1984)
_ Geraldine Ferraro's Family Finances (1984)
_ Jack Kemp's Purported Homosexuality (1985-86)
_ Gary Hart and Donna Rice (1987)
_ The Iran-Contra Affair (1986-1987)
_ Judge Douglas Ginsburg's Marijuana Use (1987)
_ Joseph Biden's Plagiarism; Michael Dukakis's 'Attack Video' (1988)
_ Pat Robertson's Checkered Past (1988)
_ Dukakis's Mental Health (1988)
_ Quayle Season (1988)
_ Chuck Robb and the Cocaine Parties (1987-1988)
_ John Tower's Nomination for Secretary of Defense (1989)
_ Speaker Jim Wright's Downfall (1989)
_ Speaker Tom Foley's Rocky Rise (1989)
_ Barney Frank and the Male Prostitute (1989)
_ Mayor Marion Barry's Escapades (1983-1990)


_ Senator Charles S. Robb and Tai Collins (1991)
_ Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers (1992)
_ Dodging the Draft and Bill Clinton's 'Red Scare' (1992)
_ 'Perot-noia' (1992)
_ Dan Quayle v. Murphy Brown (1992)
_ Dan Quayle's 'Potatoe' Incident (1992)
_ Senator Robert Packwood Accused of Sexual Harassment (1992)
_ Dick Morris (1996)
_ Bob Dole's Affair (1996)

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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