ABC Wants You To Think This Photo Wasn't Staged

ABC can't be so naive as to believe it wasn't a carefully calculated publicity stunt.  Surely the good folks at Good Morning America know it was anything but an invasion of privacy--that the Clintons wanted the world to see the image of a blissfully happy married couple tripping the sand fantastic. And yet .  . .

GMA devoted a segment this morning to a collective tongue clicking in concern that the Obamas' privacy is being invaded by photographs taken during their current vacation in Hawaii. To lend historicial perspective, other instances of photograhic invasions of presidential privacy were aired, including the image displayed here.  According to ABC's Yungi de Nies, who narrated the segment, the photographic invasion of vacation time was "something the Clintons had to get used to.  They were spotted dancing in the sand on one vacation."  "Spotted"?  I suppose. In the same sense streakers are "spotted" running across football fields.

View video here.

Let's let Kate O'Beirne, in a 2005 column in the National Review, tell the real story behind the Clintons' careful mise-en-scène:

A single memorable photograph from Hillary's years in the public spotlight illustrates the intimidating determination that marks her political ambitions. It was early January of 1998, and her husband was preparing for his deposition in Paula Jones's sexual-harassment suit. During their New Year's vacation in the Virgin Islands, the presidential couple were "caught" dancing together on the beach. In Bill's arms, Hillary gazed lovingly at her affectionate husband, her 50-year-old body revealed in all its bathing-suited glory. Most middle-aged women dread leaving a dressing room in a bathing suit, yet Hillary readily posed for a photo bound to grace front pages around the world. It was a perfect façade of normal matrimony, and succeeded brilliantly in distracting attention from the Jones suit. I remember thinking, "Wow, it's true that she will do absolutely anything for the sake of political survival." In the months ahead, after Monica Lewinsky had been exposed as Bill's latest paramour, Hillary would endure even greater public indignities. But she stuck with her husband—and, in the end, she had her reward: a seat in the Senate.

At the time, people well knew what the photo was all about.  But that doesn't prevent ABC, almost 11 years later, from rewriting history for purposes of portraying the image of a loving Clinton couple whose privacy the press violated. Please.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.