Coming soon to The New York Times? Globe reports Bush marriage breakup

››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

In Patrick Healy's recent front-page New York Times article on the state of the Clintons' marriage, Healy noted that a "tabloid photograph" of former President Bill Clinton "was enough to fuel coverage in the gossip pages." Media Matters does not endorse the decision by elite media figures to take their cues from tabloids, but if they do so, we expect them to be consistent. As it happens, the cover of the May 29 edition of the Globe magazine contains a headline about another high-profile political couple: "BUSH MARRIAGE BREAKUP! EXCLUSIVE! SEPARATE LIVES IN THE WHITE HOUSE."

In his May 23 front-page article in The New York Times, staff writer Patrick Healy asserted that "[w]hen the subject of Bill and Hillary Clinton comes up for many prominent Democrats these days, Topic A is the state of their marriage" and how it "might affect Mrs. Clinton's possible bid for the presidency in 2008." Healy offered no specific reasons for this purported interest among "prominent Democrats" aside from the amount of time the Clintons spent apart, a mention of a decade-old affair, and a reference to year-old "concern[]" over a "tabloid photograph showing Mr. Clinton leaving B.L.T. Steak in Midtown Manhattan late one night after dining with a group that included Belinda Stronach, a Canadian politician." Healy continued: "The two were among roughly a dozen people at a dinner, but it still was enough to fuel coverage in the gossip pages."

It was also enough to fuel a front-page New York Times article, and the rapt attention of the Washington press corps, as Media Matters has documented.

Healy did not identify the "tabloid" in question, but he seems to be referring to the Globe magazine, which in the spring of 2005 ran a headline about Clinton and Stronach that read "Bill caught with blonde AGAIN! New divorce battle with Hillary."

Media Matters does not endorse the decision by The New York Times, NBC's Tim Russert, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, The Washington Post's David Broder, and countless other elite media figures to take their cues from tabloids like the Globe, or to pry into the personal lives of political figures. But if they are going to do so, we expect them to be consistent.

As it happens, the cover of the May 29 edition of the Globe contains another sensational headline about another high-profile political couple:

BUSH MARRIAGE BREAKUP!

EXCLUSIVE!

SEPARATE LIVES IN THE WHITE HOUSE

  • Nasty fights
  • Booze problems
  • Laura urges counseling

On Pages 20 and 21, the Globe announces "Bush and Laura's 29-year marriage FALLS APART," adding: "They barely talk to each other," "[t]hey argue when they do speak," and "[s]he's afraid he'll hit the bottle." Quotes in the article attributed to "a longtime friend" include the assertion that "[w]hen the cameras aren't on, they have nothing to do with one another," and that "[f]or all practical purposes, they've broken up." The "family friend" continues: "After their last fight over booze, they just stopped talking -- period." The Globe's report that Laura Bush is concerned that President Bush may "hit the bottle" is reminiscent of a September 21, 2005, National Enquirer article about "Bush's booze crisis," which reported: "Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again."

Media Matters wonders when we can expect The New York Times to assign a reporter to tally the number of nights the Bushes spend together and to conduct 50 interviews with Republicans to assess their interest in the state of the Bush marriage, or in President Bush's reported relapse -- and when it will run a 2,000-word front-page article on the topic. If it does so, we wonder if Broder will refer to the article as "anything but unsympathetic" to the Bushes.

Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Government Paid Propaganda, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.