It's unbelievable. Once again my friendship with President
Clinton has made me an unwitting player in the biggest news
story in the world. As bad as I felt when the President injured
his knee in a fall at my home last March, this is worse.
When I was first asked whether someone named Monica Lewinsky had
stayed with the President at my home, I was so surprised I
almost laughed. The President had been alone with me; my wife,
Laura; my daughter, Morgan-Leigh; and my son, Gregory. But never
mind the facts, this new angle was too hot for the press to let
go of, and what seemed funny at first became an unnerving
experience for me and my family.
Aggressive newspeople have now peppered me with questions about
Monica Lewinsky for a solid month. Will it ever stop? I keep
telling the truth, but I'm feeling more and more like some
Watergate figure engaged in a terrible cover-up--all because
people love gossip about the President's private life.
I say it has gone too far. The media have crossed the line
between bona fide news and pure gossip. When I came to the U.S.
in the '70s, America had higher journalistic standards than the
London tabloids, but now there seems to be less and less
difference. Nowhere else have I seen such rabid interest in the
private lives of leaders. And nowhere else, perhaps, do so many
reporters invade people's privacy at any time and place, treat
rumors as facts and write stories without substantiating them.
Those stories hurt people, real people. This shameful state of
affairs--shameful to the press, I mean--has hurt me and it has
hurt my family, just as I'm sure it has hurt the Clinton family.
Life in the public eye can wear you down, the way a steady drip
of water can eventually split open a rock. I used to be quite
gregarious, but in recent years I've gotten more cynical, more
guarded, more stone-faced. As a result I often hear that I'm
arrogant. But it's not arrogance you're seeing, it's
Laura and I talk about this all the time. We know we have been
lucky. Success in golf has brought us money, security and great
happiness. But as much as I love the game, this latest episode
has me wondering about the price of success.
Enough is enough. Please join me in putting the next big tabloid
scandal where it belongs: in the trash can.